If you’re anything like me, or most people for that matter, you may think once I accomplish this then I will be happy and fulfilled. This concept of crossing a certain threshold resulting in feelings of achievement, happiness and overall fulfillment is not a new concept but it is one that often leaves us feeling even more empty than before. This is where flourishing comes in – to flourish you are not focusing on achieving the next thing and crossing the threshold. Flourishing is finding – and creating – a life that gives you fulfillment on a daily basis despite outside factors (yes, from time to time outside factors can affect our ability to flourish).
To flourish moves past the simpleness of happiness or wellbeing but rather encompasses a wide range of positive psychological constructs and offers a more holistic approach. Dr Martin Seligman, the “founding father” of flourishing has explained the five aspects that create the PERMA model. This model was developed to explain what contributes to a sense of flourishing and they are:
Meaning and purpose
Simply put, the PERMA model encapsulates the five areas of focus to create a flourishing life. This looks like increasing our positive emotions, engaging with the world and work/hobbies, developing deep and meaningful relationships, find meaning and purpose in our lives and achieving our goals through cultivating and applying our strengths and talents.
When looking at these five categories we each will have to define them for ourselves. For example, one person’s definition of accomplishments may be completely different from another's, but there is no right or wrong definition. This is where self reflection and self work comes into play in order to understand what fulfillment looks and feels like to you. Are you now thinking, “okay great, but where do I start to define flourishing for myself??”. In order to know what area you want or need to focus on, let’s begin with rating each area to understand where we are at – and how we feel ourselves flourishing in each.
This week, take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions:
In general, to what extent do you feel content? (1 = not at all, 10 = completely)
How often do you lose track of time while doing something you enjoy? (1 = 0, 10 = always)
To what extent do you receive help and support from others when you need it? (1 = not at all, 10 = completely)
Meaning and Purpose
To what extent do you feel that what you do in your life is valuable and worthwhile? (1 = not at all, 10 = completely)
How much of the time do you feel you are making progress towards accomplishing your goals? (1 = never, 10 = always)
Once you’ve answered these take some time to reflect on the areas that are a lower rating and ask yourself why you think that is. Are you not focusing on investing time or energy in that area? Do you feel lost of stuck when trying to flourish in that area? This is the perfect time to sit outside in the sun, maybe with a cup of coffee or tea and let your mind wander as you answer these questions truthfully and honestly.
With this knowledge of where you’re at now in flourishing, let’s focus on where you want to be. This practice is a great way to implement manifestation and allow yourself to connect with your deepest desires. In the same notebook or on the same paper, write a journal entry as your highest most flourishing version of yourself. What does your day start with? How do you feel when you wake up? Where do you work and what does your work do to impact others? How are your relationships fostered on a daily basis – who is a part of your daily life? Let your imagination run wild and allow yourself to fully imagine the life you want and what those small details look like. This practice will give you the understanding of where you want to be and then how you can focus on getting there. Remember, you have the power to create the life you want and be the individual you deeply desire to be – everything you need is within yourself.