People, Kids, Dogs And Warm Summer Days: Flourishing with PERMA

The Author

E. Alana James

E. Alana James

Dr E Alana James is reinventing herself again! Coming full circle to the first love of her life - art - and bringing back to her images all the lessons of her life as author, researcher, academic and wife. Concerned mostly with the idea of images as vehicles for expression of the truth of our inner and outer life experience.

Would you agree that people seem to flourish more in the summer? Don’t you just love to celebrate warmth, friendship, and the sheer joy of being alive at this time of year? Living in Ireland, as I do, I have found that I have become a sun worshiper, as we often seek out those things that we enjoy, over which we have no control, and it seems that here the sun is more out of control than anywhere.

In fairness, I appreciate sunshine more now that I live in a place where it is rare, than when I lived in Colorado where it was in evidence 300 days a year or more. This is the second article in a series focused on what it takes to lead a life where we flourish, something that perhaps it is easier to feel on warm summer days.

I just finished drinking a cup of coffee looking down from the 2nd (in Ireland it would be the first) floor window of our home as a group of kids wrote signs saying “Go David” and the like, in support of a young lad, 12 years old, about to participate in his first triathlon. He is certainly flourishing and the other children are showing their support. While very unusual, in fact a first, for a lad in his age group to compete, he is confident and secure as are all his family and friends around him.

We all have different things we find pleasurable…

For me there are two main joys to summer: walking our dogs on the hill above our house and taking a barbeque to the beach. Early mornings add a lusciousness to the walk on the hill, which, even though it is over familiar ground, brings new lovely moments each day. One morning it will be the sunrise, another morning it is the colors of the blooms on the blackberry plants, another it is the sight of the tall grasses and then, later, the smell of it right after it is harvested.

While in the middle of writing this I took an hour off to sit with neighbors as we cheered David on as he ran in the triathlon mentioned earlier. The gathering was very pleasant as we chatted about this or that, waiting for the three brief moments where he came within range and we could cheer him on. While this year it was sunny enough and dry, I suspect we would have been there even if it had been slogging down rain.

In a similar fashion, I would be walking my dogs in the rain – some mornings or evenings with the three of us (myself and our two black labs) all in our rain gear. Of course, the water and being bundled up do nothing to deter the dogs.

Why do I tell you these stories, hoping to provoke your own memories of kids, dogs and summer events? Because I want to tie them to pleasure, engagement, positive relationship, meaning, and accomplishment (PERMA) – and the Theory of Wellbeing by Martin Seligman. Perhaps it is easier to feel our wellbeing at this time of year as we notice experiencing and flourishing, in life.

The points I want to leave you with are that while triathlons aren’t my thing, being a member of this community is. That while there was some pleasure in hanging out with neighbors and a small amount of natural engagement, it was more about positive relationships and the meaning was about community and cheering on the accomplishment of someone else. Relative to each other the five attributes of PERMA rise and fall. What are your PERMA events this summer and how are they stacking up to help you lead a flourishing life?