Flourish is my New Favorite F Word

March 4, 2013

I have always believed, even in the darkest hours, that I am meant to be happy. So in June of 2012, after a trying period of  increasing stress and unhappiness, I made some big steps in the right direction  (I quit my job and  finally dealt with a painful herniated disc) but I didn’t feel completely happy and wasn’t sure why.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what would make me happy and more fulfilled – essentially, what I should do with my life.  I mentally meandered around, read lots books & blogs, talked to people, practiced yoga, attempted meditation and wrote my daily morning pages.

And finally I realized happiness wasn’t enough anymore.

I needed to FLOURISH.

What the F is flourishing you ask?

Good question.  This verb/state-of-being didn’t get on my radar until one of my fave magazines out of the UK,  Red,  devoted an entire section in their February issue to flourishing. The concept  really spoke to me – to flourish seemed one step past being happy.

One key article profiled a book called  Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin Seligman, a founder of positive psychology.  Marty developed a theory on well-being and his definition of flourishing is living as your authentic self and reaching your potential. (Note: Dr. Seligman also has a website, Authentic Happiness, which has a lot of info on flourishing, happiness and positive psychology).

There are 5 “pillars”essential to flourishing.

  1. Positive emotions
  2. Interest and engagement in life
  3. Positive relationships
  4. A life has meaning and purpose
  5. Having and achieving goals.

If you increase or boost any one of these pillars, your well-being will increase. They are all connected to one another, so neglect of one brings down the whole shebang.

Threaded through all this flourishing equation is the fact that everyone has strengths that they must discover and develop.  If you use your strengths every day, your well-being will go up.

Now pause. Review the 5 pillars to see which ones match your current state; and  think about your strengths and ask yourself – are you flourishing?

I had about 3.5 of the 5 pillars, which I thought was pretty good.  However, now that I’ve got all 5 pistons pumping, I understand what I was missing.

Why I wasn’t flourishing before

  • My life had meaning because of my family, but I felt like I was missing out on some other purpose. I had a nagging, niggling in my brain for years that told me I should be doing more. However…
  • I had no goals and so had nothing to achieve.  And if I didn’t know what my purpose was, how was I supposed to set goals? To achieve what?
  • I was not using my strengths  — they weren’t required in my job and I was so drained at the end of the day, I hardly used them at at home.  I needed to find a job that required me to max out my creativity and utilize my mad online skills.

 Why I’m flourishing now

  • During my quest for purpose, I woke up extra early each day to read and journal.  Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live  guided me as much as a book possibly can –  I found it a good place to jump off from.
  • I started using my creativity to make jewelry and write and received good feedback on both.  I created this blog, started a screenplay and I’m about to dust off a memoir I started with my sister in 2010.
  • I began to set goals and began to achieve my dreams – I founded Weeks of Fun, Inc. in January 2013, to not only commercialize one of my dreams (making and selling things), but to somehow further what I want to do in life:  increase the amount of fun had by people (particularly women) in the world. 
  • Other goals are flooding into my brain faster than I can put them to paper.

 I feel energized, hopeful and inspired.

Are you flourishing?  

I find it’s actually hard to find flourishers – I know a few, but they are a minority in my circles. I believe women are called to do so many other things in their life that finding the time and energy to devote to this path is hard to do.  Even if you do find the time and energy, it’s not like your purposeful path will be instantly illuminated.  It’s hard, slow work.

But I can tell you from personal experience, it’s worth it. Don’t give up. Let the king of dramatic, sweeping gestures say it best:

liberace flourishes

There are so many ways to flourish – what’s yours?

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