Learning to Flourish

Now that the kids are back in school and their homework is starting, we’ve got some news about a book you might like to read yourself. The field of Positive Psychology – with its emphasis on creating a meaningful, healthy life – is especially important to us here at NourishingRelationships. Recently a pillar in the field, as well as a friend and mentor, Dr. Marty Seligman, enlarged on his work with Authentic Happiness and established a revision of his theory in his new book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being.

In his revised theory, Seligman has added two more elements to his original three constructs that make up a life well-lived. All five, each with the support of essential character strengths and virtues, come together to create well-being. He uses the mnemonic PERMA to stand for these 5 components of thriving: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Purpose, Achievement. Lets take a look at each of these to see how they might relate to you:

Positive Emotions involve pleasure and enjoyment, often during a satisfying sensory experience. You may feel a positive emotion while eating a delicious meal, hearing a beautiful symphony, walking on the beach, sharing a hug with your grandchild. Days full of these positive emotions make up what Seligman terms a pleasant life.

Engagement comes with flow, the experience of being so involved in an activity that you lose track of time and place. During this type of total absorption you feel at one with what you are doing. You may be fortunate to experience flow from your work or a hobby that you love. This type of immersion Seligman has labeled an engaged life.

Positive Relationships are necessary for well-being and therefore comprise one of the two new additions to Seligman’s theory of thriving. Here on our blog and at our website, HerMentorCenter.com, we give practical tips to develop and maintain positive relationships with your family. When the pressure rises from caring for growing children and aging parents, the deep relationships you have built with a significant other and close friends can help buffer your stress and enhance your well-being.

Meaning and Purpose entail a commitment to something larger than yourself – the circle can include family, community, country, humanity, spiritual guidance. You may be involved in volunteer activities that bring deep satisfaction and the recognition that you can make a difference in repairing the world. Seligman has described this as a meaningful life.

Accomplishment is the second addition in this revised theory and the final tenet of well-being. Striving to achieve a goal strictly for its own sake can motivate a determined person, using her talents, to overcome difficulties. And the sense of triumph that comes from mastery over a challenging test is priceless.

Will these Positive Psychology tidbits encourage you to enjoy your own learning experience as the new school year begins? Knowing more about the constructs of well-being can help you decide how to focus your personal and family life. We hope our efforts together can be the driving force for you to thrive as you live a pleasant and engaged life, connected to others, complete with meaningful and purposeful accomplishments. What could be better?

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