…and soon you’ll need it just to keep up with the competition!

On Monday May 9th I heard my Professor from 2003, Dr Martin Seligman, speak in London. As many of you will know, Marty Seligman is one of the world’s leading psychologists and the renowned founder of positive psychology. He was there to update 1,000 of us on recent developments.

He told us many ways in which positive psychology is roaring ahead across the world. In Universities, in schools, in businesses, in the Military, and in the community positive psychology is improving the wellbeing, health and achievements of millions of people.

The main thrust of Positive Psychology is wellbeing, the name Dr Seligman coined to describe what humans seek when they’re not being coerced or threatened. He defines it as PERMA which stands for:

Positive emotion: happiness, joy, rapture, contentment and the like
Engagement: “being at one with the music” he said on Monday, flow, total immersion in what’s occupying your attention
Relationships: loving and being loved, healthy relationships in all facets of our lives
Meaning: a higher purpose to life, serving something bigger than ourselves
Accomplishment: achievement, growth

Here are some of the highlights from Dr Seligman’s presentation:

  • Thousands of schools worldwide are now implementing wellbeing focused curricula such as the Penn Resilience Programme. The results achieved by the more than one million students following these curricula are incontrovertible: positive psychology in schools is reducing depression, increasing wellbeing, and improving grades
    • 20% of high school children will experience depression in their school career so this is a major contribution to the lives of individuals and the success of nations
  • Since 2009 when 30,000 drill sergeants in the US Army were trained in teaching PERMA, results have been dramatic. Substance abuse, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and panic symptoms amongst troops have all been HALVED
  • PERMA turns out to be a major prevention factor in cardiovascular disease and death
  • Ten PERMA based interventions have now been proven to lower depression and increase happiness. These results come from randomly assigned double blind clinical trials, the most exacting test

It turns out that 19% of adults in the UK experience depression, half of them combined with anxiety (British Psychological Society). 10% of us will experience it in our lifetimes (Mental Health Foundation). Perhaps most chillingly 6.6% of people will experience a major debilitating depressive episode in any given year. (NIMH).

We’ve known for a long time that depression reduces effectiveness in the workplace, increases sickness absence, destroys motivation, drives learned helplessness (so solutions seem impossible), and limits creativity. PERMA based interventions are now proven to reduce depression, and so reduce or eliminate these negative effects.

Furthermore, wellbeing / PERMA has a material positive impact on an organisation’s success by increasing effectiveness, reducing sickness absence, lifting motivation and engagement, driving resilience, improving relationships and influencing skills, and boosting creativity and solution skills.

PERMA is out there, and your competitors will hear about it soon if they haven’t already. So, make sure you’re one of the early adopters because all the evidence points to businesses who pick up on this quickly being real winners.

At New Impetus International, we have a number of solutions which can help you maximise the benefits of wellbeing in your business, please get in touch if you would like to explore this further.