This is part one of a four part series on Flourishing.
Living things need the right environment in which to grow and flourish. For plants to thrive, rather than merely survive, they need optimal amounts of sunlight, nutrients, and water.
For people to flourish rather than merely survive, they need food, water, and sunshine, but also some less tangible things. To blossom, people need circumstances that allow their emotions to function well. In order to really thrive you need spend time in places where you can show your true self, pursuing your own interests freely, without much fear of interference, criticism, or rejection.
Researchers have discovered that to flourish, you must:
- Have more positive emotions than negative ones.
- Experience negative emotions that are both appropriate to the circumstances and time-limited.
- Avoid insincere expressions of emotions.
Gaining information about flourishing is like planting seeds; new ideas can bloom into actual changes that will enrich your life later on.
One trick is to start spending more time in circumstances that permit you to be you.
Seek or create environments that suit you -- both at work and in your personal life. Start with small steps.
- Think about how you could improve your schedule
- Try to restructure work to include more of what you prefer
- Spend more time with people who interest and accept you
- Pursue activities in your free time that you really enjoy
- Try a new hobby, class, book, or form of exercise
- Explore existing groups (self-help, politics, books, sports, etc.)
- Think about where you would most like to live and why
- Go somewhere you've always wanted to go
- Consider whether you need more time alone or with others
Sometimes you may need to look for another job or find new relationships, but often you can make smaller changes that will improve things considerably. Just cleaning and organizing your room can be a good start to creating an environment more conducive to flourishing. A new picture or a vase of flowers can make all the difference in how you feel!
The next three posts will discuss elements known to help us flourish: positive emotions, appropriate negative emotions, and emotional sincerity.