Ask a group of random people what they define as their idea of living a good life and you’ll most certainly hear the answer of “experiencing happiness”. Indeed, the desire for happiness is the thread that ties us all together.

But remembering the wisdom of Viktor Frankl, if we want to experience true happiness, we need to dedicate our lives to something bigger than ourselves and let the happiness ensue, rather than being pursued.

In other words, a good life isn’t about maintaining a constant state of happiness (in fact, if that is your primary goal, your motives are probably a little selfish). Rather, a good life is about becoming all that you’re capable of becoming and making the world a better place as a result.

It’s what Martin Seligman calls flourishing.

But what does it actually mean to flourish? According to a quick dictionary search, to flourish means to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way.

The challenge with all this is that sometimes, this growth doesn’t look or feel very sexy.

So how do we go about doing so?

Back to our friend, Mr. Seligman. Known as the godfather of Positive Psychology and author of Flourish, he tells us there are five key ingredients we need if we want to live a good life.

And, they fit into the handy little acronym PERMA (love me a good acronym).

Let’s take a look.

PERMA: The 5-Word Formula to Flourish

Positive Emotion.

Despite the fact that we don’t need to (and can’t) be happy all the times, maintaining a positive disposition as your default state is crucial for living a good life. There’s a big difference between being happy and being positive.


It’s going to be difficult to flourish if you keep doing stuff you don’t love, or you keep drifting away from the task at hand. Cultivate periods of flow by matching your ability to the task at hand and fully engage in the moment (whether that’s work, play or family).


There’s no denying the importance of deep, meaningful relationships. It’s how we’re wired. This is the one I personally need to work on the most due to a combination of working completely remotely/online and recently letting go of a lot of toxic relationships. Bottom line: don’t try to go through life alone.


Flourishing requires that we live with a sense of purpose in everything that we do. Get clear on what impact you want to make in your life and use that as your compass each day. Feel free to dive into my many articles on purpose!


Finally, part of living a good life is found in the process of pushing ourselves as we work towards challenging goals. Set a compelling vision for your life. Come up with 1-3 big goals for the next 90 days. And then enjoy flourishing as you hit them (or don’t)!

Over to you: Which one of the 5 can you improve on? And what tiny action can you take today to move forward?


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