Pathways to Wellness

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Flourishing

There are different ways of describing, or defining, flourishing, including:

  • “To flourish is to be able to enjoy life, cope with life’s difficulties, to believe in others, to
    feel you have a place in the world and to believe that you have something you can give
    to others.” (from www.handsonscotland.ca)
  • To feel good and function well
  • The experience of pleasure combined with meaning and purpose
  • To live within an optimal range of human functioning that is characterized by goodness,
    growth, productivity, contribution, and resilience

People who are flourishing:

  • Generally feel satisfied with and interested in life, are generally happy
  • Like most aspects of themselves, know and use their strengths and talents
  • Have warm, trusting and reciprocal relationships, view other people positively and with
    respect, and enjoy a sense of belonging to a family, group, or community
  • Are able and confident to express ideas, manage the tasks of daily living, cope with life’s
    difficulties and challenges
  • Have a sense of purpose and make contributions to one’s family, group, or community

Have you noticed that some people really seem to have their lives together? Even when faced with life's challenging situations, they are positive, satisfied with life and involved in the community. Are they just lucky, or are they doing something differently?

Martin Seligman, an American psychologist, has identified 5 pillars that characterize a flourishing life.  You aren't born with them, and you don't come by them through fame and fortune.  They are things that you can become more aware of, practice, and do more of. 

In other words, flourishing is within your reach and control.  So what are these 5 pillars and how can you make them a regular part of your life?

You can use the letters PERMA to remember the 5 pillars of flourishing:

P stands for Positive Emotions like joy, curiousity, awe, and gratitude.  

It's not that we should only feel positive emotions, and never feel sadness, hurt, or disappointment.  We wouldn't be human if we didn't experience the full range of emotions - positive and negative.  Instead it's about learning how to generate more positive emotions to counterbalance the negative. The 10 core positive emotions are: joy, gratitude, peace, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
To learn more about positive emotions, go to 3 good things and the 3:1 ratio.

E is for Engagement, or flow. 

This is a more difficult concept, but one that most of us have experienced at least on occasion.  It's when you are so absorbed in something that time stops, hours feel like seconds, and "you are one with the music".  To learn more, go to Flow.

R is for good Relationships.  

Although some of us are shy and others gregarious, we are all social beings.  If you think about it, the times when you are the happiest almost always involve other people.  There is one sure fire way to deepen relationships: celebrate another person’s success or good fortune.  To learn more about this, go to Time to Celebrate

M is for Meaning.  

Simply put, meaning is about serving a greater purpose -- something bigger than your own needs and happiness.  Positive emotions and fun are important, but they tend to be short-lived.  Living with purpose is not fleeting and it’s not just a moment in time.  It endures and keeps us from getting bogged down in the day-to-day hassles of life.  To learn more, go to Living with purpose

A is for Accomplishment

Setting goals and working hard to accomplish them is the final element of a flourishing life.  You can probably figure out why.  Setting goals keeps us oriented to the future and forward moving.  Accomplishments also remind us that we can take steps to get more of what we want out of life.   In Small steps, Big rewards, you'll find lots of tips on how to set and accomplish small goals.  But don't limit yourself to small goals, think big, use similar strategies, and go for it!

Additional Resources

BOOKS
The following books are available through Yukon Public Libraries and the Yukon College Library.

Positive Psychology
Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness and inner strength. Author: Corliss, J.

The How of Happiness
A new approach to getting the life you want.
Author: Lyubomirsky, S.

Positivity
Top-notch research reveals the upward spiral that will change your life. Author: Fredrickson, B.

Raising Happiness
10 simple steps for more joyful kids and happier parents. Author: Carter, C.

WEBSITES
Greater Good Science Centre: www.greatergood.berkeley.edu

Learn more