Flourishing – through a sense of fulfilment in life

Flourishing – through a sense of fulfilment in life

Asha Raghavan

Counsellor & Practicing Psychotherapist


Flourishing brings to my mind abundance – lush ripe fields of wheat, carefree children frolicking in the sand, an old couple dancing to music with not a care in the world. To thrive or flourish in life, then means  a state of being positive and contented.

Let’s start with looking at how you relate to these statements and how would you score yourself on these parameters? Here are 8 statements of the Flourishing scale rated on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 8 (strongly agree).

1.     I lead a purposeful and meaningful life.

2.    My social relationships are supportive and rewarding.

3.    I am engaged and interested in my daily activities.

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4.    I actively contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of others.

5.    I am competent and capable in the activities that are important to me.

6.    I am a good person and live a good life.

7.    I am optimistic about my future.

8.    People respect me.

(Reference- Diener et al -New measures of well-being: Flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 39, 247-266. )

Add up your values for the total score. 8 represents lowest possible flourishing while 64 is highest possible flourishing.

Well, so where do you stand?

What is Flourishing?

Flourishing is living the good life -moving beyond happiness and well-being. The good life could mean different things to different people, for some it may mean  financial success, for others it may be simple contentment, for some it may mean a booming business and to some it may mean learning new skills.

 It is indeed  anything that makes you happy  and allows  you to feel inner joy and happiness. Finding fulfilment in our lives, working and accomplishing meaningful and worthwhile tasks, connecting with others at a deeper  level; isn’t that in essence, the good life?

How does Flourishing reflect in our lives? 

You are happy and satisfied and you feel a sense of purpose in your life. Personal  growth is considered an important part of evolving, growing and changing to be better versions of oneself. There is an internal locus of control within you that helps you determine your fate, rather than be a victim of your fate.

In essence, a journey toward the actualization of your potential!

While Flourishing may sound like a very generic term, breaking it down reveals the major components of goodness, generativity, growth and of course resilience.

  • Resilience – displayed in our ability to survive and still grow after hardship.
  • Generativity – manifested in our  need to nurture and contribute to the future generation.
  • Goodness – reflected in our happiness, positivity, contentment and effective performance
  • Growth – signified through the use of our personal assets to realize our own potential.

Martin Seligman, who propounded this concept  proposed five factors which he called the PERMA model  to help explain what contributes to a sense of flourishing; tending to each of these states bring life satisfaction.

  1. Positive Emotions
  2. Engagement
  3. Relationships
  4. Meaning
  5. Accomplishments

How would this apply to your everyday  life?

  1. Positive Emotions – Being optimistic about what life holds for you, always looking for that silver lining and making the best of every opportunity.
  2. Engagement – A high level of conscientiousness, the childlike curiosity in exploring life, commitment and accountability to every project you take on.
  3. Relationships – Building meaningful relationships and maintaining them; going that extra mile to nourish your relationships and sense of connectedness with your environment.
  4. Meaning – Understanding your life’s purpose, a deeper understanding of who you are and what you would want in life. Aligning your  vision for yourself with the values you hold close to you .
  5. Accomplishments – Setting goals, chunking them down and celebrating every success, sharing that with your near and dear ones and seeking strokes and support when you feel the need for it. An innate yearning to learn and grow as a person.

It is  not necessarily just a one-time experience but a state of being to exist in.

Flourishing is also a state of Autonomy

This brings to mind Eric Berne’s description in Transactional Analysis of the state of autonomy that we aspire to gain for ourselves. It is a space where as an adult I determine my destiny, take responsibility for my actions and how I feel; throw out patterns and beliefs that are not working for me in the here and now.

Flourishing compares to this state of autonomy, a space of working towards self-actualization. Beyond our jobs and responsibilities, truly life is about making meaning of it and living  it to the fullest with the resources available to us .

The  pandemic has taught us of the fragility of our existence, perhaps a reminder that flourishing is indeed the way to live our lives!

So get cracking and make new friends, deepen your existing relationships. Plan fun and exciting events in your lives- explore, travel, take that plunge and savour those moments. Schedule occasions to simply sit back and soak in life’s pleasures. Do things that are fulfilling and meaningful and aligned with your values.

 Live, laugh learn and love – all the while staying authentic to yourself!

This article is the third one in a series of three that Asha Raghavan has written. The first two can be read by clicking here Savouring, Languishing .

Asha Raghavan is on the Counsellors & Therapists panel at InfinumGrowth and available for online consultations.

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Renee Davis
Renee Davis
1 year ago

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