What does it mean to ‘flourish’?
Is it possible to determine the state of flourishing and apply it to all of humanity? Well, yes and no. There are some core elements that need to be in place but of course the practical specifics will be different for everyone. Some of the core elements that are required in order for us to flourish are discussed below.
· We are aware of our inner compass.
· We are deeply aware of ourselves.
· We are clear about our core purpose.
· We are motivated and set ourselves goals
· We have choice
Our inner compass.
We all have an inner compass. It’s amazingly accurate and reliable. It’s always there helping to guide you and keep you in alignment.
Your Inner Compass is a very simple mechanism. It is an internal Yes/No mechanism that is your direct connection to your innate intelligence.
When you are in alignment – when you are living in harmony with who you really are and what is best for you, you feel a sense of comfort, ease and flow in your life. In other words, you feel good. Your compass is pointing to your true North, and when you’re not in alignment with who you really are you will be off-kilter, and as a result, you feel a sense of discomfort or unease. In other words, you don’t feel so good. Our inner compass provides our innate directionality.
It’s as simple as that. Being aware of our inner compass and listening to it is the key here, tuning in and staying true to it. Not being overly influenced by others or circumstances.
Being deeply aware of ourselves.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? And yet so often we are disconnected not only from ourselves and our thoughts and feelings but from others too. In the maelstrom of daily life its really easy to just lose connection with ourselves and how we’re feeling. Here’s a simple exercise to determine whether you’re deeply aware of yourself. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths – in through your nose out through your mouth, now start to mentally scan your body from head to toe. See how each part of you is really feeling. Where is there comfort or discomfort? Is there tightness? Do you know what’s causing any discomfort? Can you explore it to find out more? 5 minutes doing this can be very enlightening indeed. Once you’ve learned to really tune into yourself you can become better aware of the others around you too.
Being clear about our core purpose.
This is a big one. In my experience most people don’t really know what their core purpose is, we’ve trundled along through life often being heavily influenced by those around us, parents, children, extended family, friends, work colleagues, even celebrities and then, somewhere around mid-life we start to get this nagging question arising …something along the lines of… ‘What IS this all about then’?
For some, it’s been crystal clear that they are going to be a Rocket Scientist / Musician / Educator since they were barely able to walk, but for most people we’ve changed and adapted as we go through life depending on our circumstances at the time. What comes to mind when you think about your core purpose? What were or are you meant to be doing in this one, important and significant life? ….And what is stopping you from doing that now?
Being motivated and setting goals
Being motivated is, as you know, significantly easier when we’re really interested in what we’re doing. You only need to think about a New Year’s Resolution that didn’t quite get fulfilled, or a project that we went more than the extra mile on and thoroughly enjoyed to understand motivation. Motivation is a much better predictor of career success than intelligence, ability or salary. We need to be clear and intentional about our behaviours to ensure that we’re staying on the right path.
Unfortunately, we often take the wrong direction in order to find motivation — We blindly tie it to huge goals that are unattainable and use all of their energy to attempt to power through it all and get it done. In reality, a lot of this leads to burnout and waning willpower.
All of the 3 elements of flourishing mentioned above tie in with the level of motivation that we have, our inner compass, are we moving in the right direction? Does this goal sit well with our core purpose? Being deeply aware of ourselves – is this goal that we’re setting something that really interests us? Are we doing it for ourselves or others and what impact does that have?
Exercising our choice
Quite how we arrived at having what feels like 57 million different types of shampoo is a mystery to me, however, I’d rather that than to have no choice at all. (In fact, the research shows that a choice of any more than 8 is simply confusing)
A life without choice is not good for anyone. We want to decide for ourselves how to spend each day, what to do and when to do it. Autonomy is important. To make decisions about what’s important to us and what makes us feel good. Choice gives our lives meaning. What would you choose to change about the way you are living now? What choices are best for you and those around you? What choices do you need to make in order to feel that you’re really flourishing?
All of the aspects of flourishing discussed above are interconnected. If you’d like a clearer picture of how close you are to flourishing contact me, we have a psychometric questionnaire that’ll show where you are now and help you to plan where you really want to be.
About the author: Janette Kirk-Willis
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’