PERMA+H = Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning & Accomplishments + Health

Not long ago I came across the PERMA+H model. I didnt know what it was at the time but its interesting so I thought I’d share what I know about it now and some resources you might find useful if you haven’t already come across this.

It was last year, early one morning, I was in a ute full of sleepy staff with a trailer on the back. It was a typical start to an outdoor ed programme. Dawn at the logistics base, coffee, catching up with folks, checking vehicles, loading food and then off. This time we were heading to Myall Lakes which is a fair old drive so we all settled in for the haul, we had ourselves a little old convoy (but we’re not allowed to call them that….shhhsssssshh..)

While we cruising up the highway Dave, the Course Coordinator in a vehicle further up the line, pinged everyone with an email in preparation for the programme briefing later. It said this:

The school are embracing positive education in their school and as part of this all year levels have completed an online survey as path of discovery regarding their ‘signature strengths’. These tie in closely with PERMA+H model that is taught in the school.

Here is also a couple of links to a talk by Martin Seligman a founder of the Positive Psychology movement and creator of the PERMA Model.

I would also like you all to sign up and do the Character Strengths online survey on your travel day. Throughout your time with the students I would like to hear that you have used the language of positive psychology and Character Strengths that is familiar to staff and students on the programs. ( I did mine last week and found the results quite interesting and now plan to do it on the same day every year to see if I really am becoming a grumpy old man)

I hadn’t heard the acronym before so didnt really know what it was or meant (thats why I’ve put it in the title right at the top), well we had 3 or 4 hours so we carried on solving the world of climbing ethics.

A bit later I watched the 2 videos and took the questionaire plus I scanned through some resources Georgia had dug up while we were talking climbing. The videos are about 5 minutes and 25 minutes, the questionaire will take 10 minutes or so so grab yourself a brew and buckle in its a bit of a long one but I think its interesting enough to be worth it

Before the videos and questionaire I think its worth noting my experience with using this as a structure for reviews with the students on the programme:

The problem I initially came across was that the students I was working with HATED the jargon used in the school around this model. Teenagers are having what they see as useless nonsense rammed down their throats 24-7 – quadratic equations, Shakespeare blah blah blah “when are we ever going to use this rubbish in our lives” I hear them cry 😜

However when I spoke to them honestly and without jargon they engaged really well with the concepts and I’ve had continued success with it since with 14/15 year olds.

Ok lets get into it…..

First of all this 5 minute video Professor Martin Seligman outlines the meaning of PERMA as an acronym for psychological wellbeing. (note the +H had been added on later to represent Health which we all know is an important factor in wellbeing)

Next in this 24 minute video Martin Seligman talks about positive psychology as a field of study and as it works one-on-one with each patient and each practitioner. As it moves beyond a focus on disease, what can modern psychology help us to become?

Next up its survey time

So have you got your results? I’ll post mine below in a sec, first off this is what the website says about Character Strengths:

Character Strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave. Scientists have identified 24 character strengths that you have the capacity to express. By taking the VIA Survey you will discover your unique character strengths profile. Knowing and applying your highest character strengths is the key to you being your best self.

So here are my top 5 character strengths according to the results of the survey

1 – Love of learning

Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.


2 – Leadership 

Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen.


3 – Honesty 

Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.


4 – Curiosity 

Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.


5 – Creativity 

Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.


So that will be plenty to get you started. Hopefully you’ve found it both interesting and useful.

Its a good source of material to use as a basis for reviewing sessions especially if students have done the survey. I found students really engaged very positively with me when I discussed with them very openly with what each section of PERMA+H meant to me and my top 5 character strengths

Lastly as an added bonus below are the resources Georgia found for us.

One thought on “PERMA+H = Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning & Accomplishments + Health

Add yours

  1. Hi Ian, great article. I am fascinated and it brings me hope for the world to hear that these concepts are being taught to students in school. Thanks for sharing

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