P, Positive Emotions! What are they and why do they belong in "PERMA". A positive emotion is something sought by all human beings for the sake of just having them. Who doesn't like it when a laugh turns into a cackle? Or, the elation of riding a roller coaster? Positive emotions: joy, peacefulness, contentment, happiness, elation, pride, hopefulness, connectedness, are all emotions regardless of age, gender, race, or nationality, we strive to achieve. It is even written in the United Stated Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Notice those famous words, do not tell us how to pursue happiness. How can we improve positive emotions? Are Positive emotions all that we need for true Well-Being?
A life where the pleasure of the senses is sought above all other things, seems rampant in American culture. However, there is an inherent flaw in pure hedonism both from a scientific stand-point and also from a sociological standpoint. The human nervous system, the system that enables us to feel the sensations of happiness, is much like a thermometer. If you set your home thermometer to 72 degrees, the temperature of your home may fluctuate a couple of degrees above or below its setting, but when it gets to hot or go cold, it clicks on to return you to 72 degree's. When it comes to happiness or even sadness, that what our nervous system does , it returns us to our set point. This is why the pure pursuit of hedonic happiness only leads to failure. Some of the happiness Guru's like Robert Emmons from UC Davis, argues that the happiness set-point can be adjusted. We will learn about that more in later blog posts.
From a sociological/cultural point of view, without the other letters of "PERMA" the happniess from the plessure of the sense fails because it has a tendency to breed selfishness. Selfishness impairs, indeed it becomes almost like a learning disaility for skills and ways of thinking that allow us to cultivate other aspects of :PERMA". Personally, some aspects of the theories of Max Weber, specifically structural functional theory, makes sense. Often his theories are described much like a puzzle. Every person has a different shape, but when you fit all those shapes together, it forms a beautiful picture. This means that through the diversity our talents and individual experience, we are united in our commonalities. In a purely hedonistic pursuit, if all people in a given society pursued the selfish lifestyle, a life-style of seeking pleasure for the senses, no one would have well-being.
Note: This Post is only a draft, some edits are needed