Flourishing is “a state where people experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning, and positive social functioning, most of the time, living “within an optimal range of human functioning.” It is a descriptor and measure of positive mental health and overall life well-being, and includes multiple components and concepts, such as cultivating strengths, subjective well-being, “goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience.” Flourishing is the opposite of both pathology and languishing, which are described as living a life that feels hollow and empty. It is a central concept in positive psychology, developed by Corey Keyes and Barbara Fredrickson.
It is a state of blooming, to develop to its full potential, according to Maslow, to self actualize one’s self-worth, self-potential. It is an important component of well being.
The ability to flourish is defined as the ability for a person to grow as a human being through good times and through life struggles. It is an individual journey. How one gets there is connected by the holistic recognition that happiness and flourishing are connected to elements such as finding individual meaning through relationships, courage, leisure time, what we love to do in life, building creativity, love, and connections. Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness through meeting goals, being connected with life passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life.
Appreciably, in the research of this area in Positive Psychology, the work of Felicia Huppert and Timothy So highlighted and crafted the core features and explanations associated with flourishing. The authors defined flourishing as a product of characteristics a person possesses or recognizes as resources. The criteria included a model of specific core features that must be present and 3 of six additional features that complete the recipe. The core features include:
· positive emotions
· engagement, interest
The additional features include (three of six must be present):
· and positive relationships
While the core list might seem like benchmark thresholds, we must mention again that these can only be evaluated and defined by the individual. For example, some people are overtly happy and this shows through energy and enthusiasm; a bubbly person if you will, while others may happily fade into the background enjoying the moments from the bleachers. Given the different ways of being in the world, both can equally evaluate their life on the positive emotional side.
The additional six features (where just three are needed) add to the recipe of flourishing and are features defined by how we recognize and use resources, and process information that generates favorable or positive outcomes through motivation, behaviors, revaluation, and adjustment.
The idea of flourishing is not something someone either has or does not have, it is an action-based process of knowing that to flourish one must engage in practices that develop momentum in flourishing. While it is debated that Albert Einstein actually coined the phrase “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, it is certainly seen a fitting phrase for understanding how one comes to flourish in life. If a person feels stuck or a lack of positive momentum in their life, then the action is needed to move the train out of the station. As it just so happens, flourish, in the verb sense of meaning is acknowledged as the state of growing and thriving, or being in such a state. In all instances, something must happen for the state to be realized. Whether it is to reach out and make positive human connections, or to develop a sense of self-love, it is the process of un-sticking one’s self from a current state and taking action to grow as a human being.