I stumbled across a piece of research today in Hefferon & Boniwell’s university text ‘Positive Psychology’ that suggests:

  • 18% of people meet the criteria of flourishing
  • 65% are moderately mentally healthy
  • 17% are languishing.

Now, regardless of the finer details of the study and its results, what I’m most interested in are the people who meet the criteria of flourishing and what we can learn from them.

Are you flourishing?

There are a number of ways to define what it means to be flourishing, however, in this post I’m going to use the criteria set out by the founder of applied positive psychology Martin Seligman so that you can make a quick assessment on the degree to which you’re currently flourishing in your life.

Seligman’s first element of a flourishing life is to have Positive emotions more often than you have negative emotions. So the question to ask yourself is this… to what extent do you believe on most days that you are more emotionally positive about your past, present and future personal and business lifestyle?

The second element that Seligman refers to is Engagement. This is about how connected and absorbed you are in the various life roles you have to the extent you are often just ‘in flow’ and positively engrossed in what you’re doing. So the question to ask yourself is this… to what extent do you believe on most days that you are more ‘in flow’ or engaged in your various life roles… and which life roles (personal and business) are you more ‘in flow’ more often?

The third element is Relationships. This is the degree of trust you have in your life – self trust, trust in others and others trusting in you. So the question is this… to what extent do you have trust relationships in your personal and business life?

The fourth element that Seligman refers to is Meaning. This is your sense of having a higher purpose in your personal and business life. So the question is this… to what extent in your personal and business life are you living a life with a higher meaning and sense that you’re contributing to something beyond just your own wants and desires?

The final element in what Seligman refers to as PERMA, (the acronym for the five elements of well-being and flourishing) is Achievement. This is about a sense of pride in what you’re achieving in your personal and business life. So the final question in this post is this… to what extent do you have a sense of achievement in your personal and business life?

Don’t Learn From What’s Normal or Average!

What we all can learn from applied positive psychology studies is not so much what the ‘average’ person is thinking, feeling and doing in their lives, but what those who are the ‘outliers’ are doing – the ones who have higher levels of well-being, and report living more happy, flourishing and prosperous lives.

I trust that these posts are helping you to learn what you too can do to think, feel and do more regularly to enable you to live a more happy, flourishing and prosperous personal and work life.