Flourishing

“Analyzing recent emotional intelligence assessment data from Six Seconds’ SEI assessment, we tested the link between EQ and wellbeing among 56,866 people from 131 countries. We found three competencies are most predictive of wellbeing; all three have to do with taking ownership. For example, one key competency is “Engage Intrinsic Motivation.” […] People with higher scores on wellbeing are around twice as strong in this competency.
The ancient Greeks called it Eudaimonia, a burning ember of “good genius” that marks the best in human aspiration (more). In Japanese, a similar term is “Genki” — an internal force of health. The Japanese character 元気 “genki” has roots in the Chinese characters for “first” and “energy” or “spirit,” the force that permeates all life (more). Positive Psychology guru Martin Seligman describes it as Flourishing. Whatever the word, many of us want more. Where do we get it?” – Daniel Goleman on Wellbeing

What is it to flourish?

Flourishing is a state of self-replicating joy on a daily basis, where life brings a natural sense of meaning and purpose. When the variables of our life– our environment, our own minds, our job and relationships — align gracefully, empowering a sense of meaning and purpose in our repeated activities, life seems to flow with ease. It is when habituated gratitude, a natural sense of curiosity and awe, and automatic mindfulness are all playing their roles. Flourishing is when we are engaged in a “Unified Flow Experience” as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his landmark book.
Most probably, a life of flourishing is speckled by good communication in relationships, a flexible idea of right and wrong, a blissful work life, and other enablers of meaning and purpose.

Martin Seligman, visionary and elder in the positive psychology research movement, has a recent book about Flourishing. Click the photo to the right to find the book. There is also a helpful commentary on it by the folks at the Greater Good Science Center HERE.

According to Seligman, there are five main factors to measure a sense of flourishing, given in his “PERMA” model:
Positive Emotions
This is comfort, happiness, smiling, being cheerful, being merry. As stated throughout our happiness section, this type of happiness (our “Type #1“) is over-attended, culturally. Seligman believes we have about 15% leverage on this factor and it is mostly genetically determined.
Engagement
This is about when time stops for you. Engagement is when we experience flow. This is another one of the happiness types in our model (Type #2). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s landmark book is a comprehensive analysis of this “PERMA factor” or “Happiness Type”.
Relationships
Good relationships are a skill. We can learn it, and teach it to our children. Here on our site, there are incredible tools and resources for learning relationship skills, including Clean Communication, Gratitude, Forgiveness, 100% Responsibility, and Right/Wrong.
Meaning
This is “Belonging to and serving something you think is bigger than yourself,” according to Seligman. When it comes to meaning, the self can easily be a hindrance, and thrives in creating meaning by acting through Love, Expression, Service, and Discovery. In our model, these are the four cornerstones of meaning and purpose, and represent “Happiness Type #4“. We believe this type is vastly under-representing and under-appreciated in the world. It is the focus of much of this website.
Accomplishments
Achievement, mastery, confidence, self discipline, grit…this factor is easy to measure, as researchers can look to test scores, income, etc. Seligman notes that “Self discipline is about twice as important as IQ for measures of success.”
The purpose of Martin Seligman’s book is to provide a new model of “well-being,” a term meant to evoke a comprehensively optimal, best-lived life. The model gives us a new, holistic lens on living well, incorporating not only happiness (Positive Emotions) but these other elements too.
In comparison with this site, our focus is on meaning and purpose, as we believe it is both the most under-considered and most foundational aspect of living well.
Within our model of ‘happiness’ (used loosely/colloquially) we look at 4 “types“. There are some parallels between this model and Seligman’s PERMA model: Type #1 is like Positive Emotions, Type #2 is Engagement, and Meaning is Type #4. We believe Type #4 begets the other types and provides the highest return on well-being. We also draw on Perspective (Type #3) as an important factor in living well.

Links

The below links are primarily about the how of flourishing. Specifically, they are focused on the purpose aspect of flourishing, as is the focus of much of this site.

Just as effective from a productivity standpoint, this article will give you a few well-researched tips for daily habit-forming that begets a life of flourishing.
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To experience a deep sense of flow or ‘flourishing’, your days will need to align with your deepest goals.
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A funny article about how not all dreams make sense to pursue, from the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck,” Mark Manson.
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A helpful definition and practical tips for flourishing, from positivepsychologyprogram.com:
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When people’s projects flourish, especially while bringing purpose to others’ lives, they deserve recognition, says encore.org, who awards the Purpose Prize to individuals whose stories of service inspire us.
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Observing the role of creativity, especially passion and intention, in lasting life changes.
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The Flourishing Scale is a quick quiz from GGSC to measure self-perceived success in purpose, self-esteem, relationships, and optimism.
See the Flourishing Scale

Videos

Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling

In praise of “Multipotentialites,” Emilie Wapnick calls into question our assumptions about having one career.

Jay Shetty – How to Find Your Purpose

Jay Shetty, a rebel-turned-monk-turned-entrepreneur, talks about practical wisdom and finding purpose.

Jay Shetty – How to Find and Pursue Your Passion

Another video from this inspiring speaker, this one is an interactive workshop in which the Bliss Map is dissected.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” – Carl Rogers

Examples of Flourishing Lives

These people are not meant for comparison. Rather, they are exemplary references for what Flourishing may look like.