The Art of Flourishing
“Flourishing goes beyond happiness, or satisfaction with life. True, people who flourish are happy. But that's not the half of it. Beyond feeling good, they're also doing good-adding value to the world.” Barbara Fredrickson
The term Flourishing was coined by positive psychology and combines several components of well-being into a holistic concept.
Research shows that flourishing is valuable not only because it feels good, but also because it has positive effects on the world - it's been linked to more satisfying relationships, higher levels of cooperation, prosocial behavior, and myriad health benefits, among others.
What is Flourishing?
“To flourish is to find fulfillment in our lives, accomplishing meaningful and worthwhile tasks, and connecting with others at a deeper level—in essence, living the “good life.” – Martin Seligman
Can we learn to grow or develop skills that lead to this "good life"?
The answer is a clear, yes! Flourishing is not something you either have or don't have, nor is it static, but something you can actively promote.
This is where the PERMA-V model provides wonderful guidance. It is an evidence-based approach to improving holistic well-being and reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.
Using this model as a framework, we can understand Flourishing as the process of engaging in each area:
Positive Emotions: Feelings such as joy, love, interest and satisfaction have an expanding effect on our thinking and actions. They enable us to open up to creative, flexible and new ways of thinking and acting. All of these are closely related to resilience and well-being. Emotions are contagious and promote the development of sustainable relationships.
Engagement: Engagement occurs when we use our skills and strengths to meet a challenge. When we are engaged, we focus our attention on a task and are fully committed to it.
Relationships: Relationships are fundamental to well-being. The experiences that contribute to well-being are often enhanced by our relationships, such as great joy, meaning, laughter, a sense of belonging, and pride in accomplishment. Relationships with others can add meaning and significance to life.
Meaning: We can deepen our lives and well-being immeasurably by cultivating relationships with others, identifying and working toward meaningful purpose, telling stories about our place in the world, and contributing in ways that go beyond ourselves.
Achievement: It is a basic human need to grow, to achieve goals and to make progress in life.
Vitality: Research shows that vitality is essential to our well-being. Sleep, nutrition and exercise have a significant impact on all other elements of well-being.
The bigger picture: Collective Flourishing
Activities in these areas can significantly improve mental health and strengthen social solidarity.
When we take care of our Flourishing, we have the necessary capacity to join with others, change structures and advance collective Flourishing.
As long as part of the earth's population still has to live at subsistence level, the path to collective well-being is not only a question of consciousness, but also depends on the systems and structures of our society. For collective flourishing, we need, among other things, safe, affordable housing, living wages or an unconditional basic income, solutions to systemic racism, access to affordable, quality food, and holistic health care, including mental health care.
In the words of activist Lilla Watson: "If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together..“