Well Being 101

boardwalk on beach

“Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  ~Howard Thurman

Flourish is a book by Martin Seligman, known for his extensive research in the field of positive psychology. Within the book I found many takeaways including the acronym PERMA, which is a very helpful tool to build awareness around what encompasses well-being, or flourishing. Basically PERMA stands for Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. It also happens to be shorthand for personal mastery, which is a happy coincidence since the idea around mastering yourself personally is at the heart of my coaching practice.

The word flourish, as defined by the author, explores what makes life worth living and builds on the conditions that make it so. Things like happiness, flow, meaning, love, gratitude, achievement, growth, better relationships—these all become foundational content related to well being.

The ideal way to create these conditions is through deepening your awareness and deploying your highest strengths, values and pleasures to meet the world with the gusto and flow needed to be mindful your PERMA. In other words, it’s not just one thing that creates well-being, it’s a series of ongoing and consistent patterns, a construct, that enables us to grow and learn our way into a life of flourishing. The book builds a framework to create a roadmap of self-discovery. If applied, your knowledge of well-being will give you the tools needed to break your “flourish code” and open the floodgate to more of what makes your life worth living more vitally and with greater purpose and meaning.

When it comes crafting such a life you also need knowledge. Knowledge is an interesting word, if you break it down as my yoga teacher did last week in class. He said that knowledge is being at the edge of knowing. That stuck a chord with me as I did my practice and ruminated on the poetry and pragmatism the creators of language gave humanity when a new word such as “knowledge” was created. With this luminous insight I saw myself in how I learn, gaining a foothold at the edge of knowing and sometimes even getting to the other side. It’s the process, not the end that excites me. Being in a place of learning and growing is a pleasure and gives my life engagement, meaning and accomplishment, so it’s coded in my DNA of PERMA.

What makes you flourish? What’s coded in your PERMA? We each have our own cipher for what makes us feel good about ourselves and how we are choose to live our lives.   It’s a daily habit, not an arrival.

Exploring more about what makes you tick, i.e., your strengths and values, will help unlock this knowledge.   There is a website available for self-assessments at no cost through the University of Pennsylvania: www.authentichappiness.org. I have taken several of the questionnaires and have found them to be instrumental building blocks to explore the many avenues related to well-being and happiness. It starts as an inside job and once honed, most of what flourishing involves is community, meaning you share it, so it becomes an outside job, and a full circle experience.


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