1O ways to help you flourish- The pillars of wellbeing

By Becci Grant, Sat 27th Apr 2019

How to Flourish?

‘What you do today can improve all your tomorrows’

Flourish the opposite of languish. To flourish means thrive, grow & brighten, whereas languish means to wilt, wither & fade.

Where traditional psychology and traditional paths focuses on ‘fixing’ what is ‘wrong’ with us, to alleviate human languishing and move people ‘back to neutral’ I think it is more important to build what is right with us, to enhance human flourishing. 

Further research has been done into this concept specifically by Martin Seligman in the 1990’s and the pillars of well being were later derived from this PERMA- V

Based on the PERMA-V  model, happiness involves being:

  • At peace with our past: by looking back with gratitude & forgiveness.
  • Optimistic and hopeful about our future with intentional and achievable goals.
  • Happy with our present – savouring our present moment, feeling engaged in what we are doing now and experiencing a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives right now. It also encompasses enjoying mutually supportive relationships, feeling grateful for what we have, with a healthy body and mind that gives us sufficient energy to optimise how we function, think and feel.

POSITIVE EMOTION – Happiness, joy, curiosity, serenity, hope, gratitude, awe and love are examples of this.

ENGAGEMENT – This means using our character strengths to achieve a sense of ‘flow’ through which we can lose ourselves in an activity.

RELATIONSHIPS – Strong, supportive & rewarding social connections.

MEANING – A purposeful life, which is valued, worthwhile & has meaning.

ACCOMPLISHMENT – Working towards and achieving goals and thus growing & developing.

VITALITY – Paying attention to sleep, physical activity, alignment & digestion, in order to feel alert with our available energy and to be fully functioning and psychologically well.

‘If you want to have roses, it is not nearly enough to clear and weed. You have to amend the soil with peat moss, plant a good rose, water it and feed it nutrients. You have to supply the enabling conditions for flourishing’  

Martin Seligman

Scientists have since discovered a number of intentional activities that are proven to raise our happiness set point and increase our life satisfaction. If we can make these feel habitual then they will become most natural and provide a sustainable boost to our wellbeing.

A few Positive Psychology Interventions that aid flourishing.

Express Gratitude:

Count the blessings of what you have, in a journal or through contemplation, and convey appreciation in person or in a letter to someone you have never properly thanked.

Cultivate Optimism: 

Practice optimistic thinking by considering the bright side of each situation and writing about your best possible future in a journal.

 Savour life:

Pay close attention to the little moments in life and take delight in the daily joys. Replay these mini moments by writing about them drawing them, talking about them, sharing them.

Nurture social relationships:

Schedule and invest time in relationships, both old and new.

 Practice random acts of kindness:

Be good for other people. Planned, direct, spontaneous, anonymous for friends, strangers and both.

Play to your strengths:

Finding your character strengths and using them improves wellbeing and performance. Indeed, playing to your strengths can also have the knock on effect of positivity impacting on other interventions.

Practice meditation and physical activity:

Take care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, meditating, smiling and laughing.

Increase flow and engagement:

Participate in activities that absorb you and allow you to lose track of time. They should be sufficiently challenging but not so difficult you lose enjoyment of the activity. Use your character strength, the authentic strengths that energise you.

Avoid overthinking and social comparison:

Minimise how frequently you dwell on worries and compare yourself to others, using strategies such as distraction, limit social media usage, engage in activities where you invest in yourself, read and reduce worry time when you gain evidence for and against your anxieties and judgements.

Set & meet goals:

Choose a few meaningful goals to commit to, and then devote effort to pursuing and meeting them.

 Learn to forgive:

Set yourself free of resentment by writing a letter to someone who has hurt you in the past, forgiving them is allowing yourself to be free from residual anger and resentment.

Develop coping strategies:

Notice moments when you feel good, consider what you have done to get through hardships in the past and practice methods to deal with stress, anxiety & adversity.

With positive psychology interventions in our toolkit, we can steer ourselves on our happiness journey and head in the right direction.

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