In positive psychology, 'thriving' or 'flourishing' refers to feeling or functioning well over multiple domains of life (e.g., physical, mental, cognitive, social, functional, economic).
It is highly subjective in nature, so will mean different things to different people and it is affected by numerous factors, including one's personality, habitual behaviours, social relationships, socioeconomic status (SES), the environment, and cultural aspects according to the Wiley Encyclopaedia Of Health Psychology.
For many years, thriving was primarily seen as an individual goal and many positive psychology interventions were aimed at improving one's own wellbeing and happiness.
More recently, the focus has shifted to exploring and acknowledging the complex nature of wellbeing and the impact that wider systems (e.g., friends, family, work, school etc.), including the interconnectedness we have with non-humans and the environment, has on thriving.
Because flourishing is such a complex matter, in my view the best way to thrive in life is to
1. Increase your self-awareness;
2. Embody your values as often as you can; and
3. Open your heart to other people, and yourself.
1. Increase Your Self-awareness
What are the most important things in your life? Family? Adventure? Honesty? Forgiveness? Treading gently in the world?
Knowing your personal values is the key to understanding who you are at heart, and what it is that makes your life worth living. Spend some time reflecting and meditating on what's most important to you and try to get it down to only 3 or 4 values. You can use my free guide 'Identify Your Values in 3 Easy Steps' to help you. At the very least it has a list of 240 possible values to help you get started.
Use your values to guide your decision making, create positive habits and design a life you love.
2. Embody Your Values
Once you know your values, notice where they show up easily in your life and where they are less noticeable.
Does your work allow you to embody your personal values? Or do you need to focus on living them in your personal life?
Think about where in all the different areas of your life you are able to prioritise those values and where you could do with tweaking things to better meet them. How do they impact your physical and mental wellbeing? Or your cognitive, social, or financial wellbeing?
The greater the alignment between your values and your habits and behaviours, the greater the sense of ease and life satisfaction. (NB. It might not be possible to align your whole life with your values, but make changes where you can and it will feel much easier.)
3. Open Your Heart
It is all too easy to judge others based on our preconceived ideas of how people 'should' behave in certain situations. This can lead to frustration, disappointment, bitterness and grudge-holding, when the truth is that if you had experienced the same life as the other person, you would have made the same decisions.
Practicing compassion, empathy and forgiveness will lead to a deeper connection with others and a greater sense of peace.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes and shift your perspective to help with this and ask open questions to better understand what someone is thinking, rather than trying to read their mind or guess.
Non-judgemental, empathic listening is at the heart of good communication and trying to better understand someone will positively transform your relationships, be they personal or professional.
And make sure you apply compassion, empathy and forgiveness to yourself too. You do not need to hold yourself to higher standards than others. Be kind and understanding to yourself; we all make mistakes. It's putting into practice what we have learned from them that matters.
Practicing these three strategies will help you increase your self-awareness and self-acceptance, live in greater alignment with what's important to you, and improve your relationships with other people and yourself. All of which will help you to thrive and feel happier and more satisfied with life.
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