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The 5 types of Happiness, and how to reach this state

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Happiness is one of those topics that interests everyone and that is why psychology has paid a lot of attention to this phenomenon. There are different theories that have tried to explain this construct and there are many investigations that have tried to provide relevant data that allow us to understand its complexity.

One of the best known authors is Martin Seligman, which states that there are five types of happiness. In this article we will talk about his model and what are its most outstanding characteristics.

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Who is Martin Seligman

Dr. Martin Seligman, is an American psychologist and writer considered one of the founders of Positive Psychology. He was born on August 12, 1942 in Albany, New York. For many years he has been the director of the clinical training program at the University of Pennsylvania. His work revolves around topics such as learned helplessness, positive psychology, depression, psychological resistance, optimism, and pessimism.

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It was in 1998 when this character decided to change the trend of psychology that focused mainly on the negative emotions and how to manage them so that people's well-being and emotional health experience a gets better. Seligman has devoted himself to investigating the implications of positive thinking and emotions and scientifically check the most effective self-help methods.

  • Related article: "Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology: discovering the keys to success"

Seligman PERMA model

And it is that the well-being of people cannot be studied without taking happiness into account. The author thinks that happiness has five components that are present in those individuals who are happier. With this idea he created the “PERMA” model which, according to its acronym in English, means:

  • Positive emotions (positive emotions or pleasant life)
  • Engagement (Commitment or committed life)
  • Relationships
  • Meanings (Meaning or meaningful life)
  • Accomplishment (Success or sense of achievement)

Components and types of happiness

Seligman's theory has five components or levels that indicate the types of happiness. The goal of his theory is to measure and encourage personal growth and well-being. These are the levels of your model:

1. Positive emotions or pleasant life

At the most basic level of happiness, the person experiences this through emotions. It has to do with the amount of emotions we experience during the day. A pleasant life consists of having more pleasant experiences during the day than unpleasant ones. The author thinks that people can learn a series of techniques to increase the duration and intensity of their pleasures.

These positive experiences can be: doing sports, enjoying a good meal, reading, etc. The positive of an experience depends on each person.

  • Related article: "Differences between emotions and feelings"

2. Commitment or committed life

If in the previous case the pleasures would be rather external, in this case the internal ones are incorporated. It is what is known as "State of flow", in which the person connects with hers own desires. We create engagement when we are fully present, aware, and creating opportunities for flow that lead to higher levels of well-being.

Seligmann describes engagement as "stopping in time and losing self-awareness during an absorbing activity." Happiness is developing a large number of optimal “flow” experiences through the use of personal strengths.

3. Relations

Relationships with others are also a great source of happiness, so to be happy it is necessary to dedicate time to them, because it increases the feeling of support and the perception of well-being. This has to do with all relationships: friends, family, partners... In fact, social support is closely related to well-being, and even some research claims that they help reduce stress and discomfort. On the other hand, loneliness is associated with an increased risk of dying.

4. Meaning or meaningful life

Seligman describes this level as something bigger than ourselves. The meaning is the purpose for which we perceive that we exist, that is, what fills us and what we decide to fight for. They are our most desired goals. Finding meaning about yourself is not always easy, but it is necessary to be happy. The search for meaning and self-realization is one of the principles of positive psychology.

5. Success or sense of accomplishment

People can live positive emotions, commit ourselves in different situations, feel the state of flow, we can have relationships that enrich us and find meaning in our lifetime.

We can have goals that motivate us and help us develop positively, but the highest level of Happiness is what we achieve when we have set objectives and goals from the heart and have raised. So we feel competent and we know that we did what we wanted and we did it well. Achieving goals, especially those linked to our values, increases well-being over a relatively long period of time.

What Science Says About Happiness

And it is that as it has been said, there are many investigations carried out around this subject. Who doesn't want to be happy? Happiness is something we all pursue.

Over the years, scientists have found different activities, behaviors, attitudes, and gestures that can make us happier. But... what are the keys to happiness? Some of the most important findings are the following:

Spend more time with family and friends

As Seligman states, there is much research that has shown that spend time with loved ones makes us happier.

Travel a lot

Knowing the world and traveling is enriching not only because it opens our minds, but because it makes us feel good. Researchers, however, have found that It is not the trips themselves that make us happy, but planning them.

Live the present

Living by expectations, often unrealistic, does not favor our well-being. Instead, live in the present allows us to experience life to the fullest and it makes us happier


Gratitude is another of the basic principles of happiness. So whenever you can, thank your loved ones for everything they do for you.

Go out to the street

Something as simple as going outside is positive because increases serotonin levels in the brain, the neurotransmitter related to happiness.

These are just a few examples of what science says about happiness. If you want to know more, you can read this article: "The 10 keys to being happy, according to science

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