WHAT is human flourishing?

“PERMA” stands for the five essential elements that should be in place for us to experience lasting well-being.   It might be called a human well-being model.

  1. Positive Emotion (P)

For us to experience well-being, we need positive emotion in our lives. Any positive emotion such as peace, gratitude, appreciation, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category – and the message is that it’s really important to enjoy yourself in the here and now, along with the other elements of PERMA.

  1. Engagement (E)

When we’re truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow: time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self, and we concentrate intensely on the present. In a sense, we are one with our activity.

This feels really good! The more we experience this type of engagement, the more likely we are to experience well-being.

  1. Positive Relationships (R)

As humans, we are “social beings,” and good (nourishing, enlivening) relationships are core to our well-being. Time and again, we see that people who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not. Relationships really do matter!  Conversely, negative (especially toxic) relationships do us harm.

  1. Meaning (M)

Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether this is a specific deity or religion, or a cause that helps humanity in some way, we all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of well-being. Meaning has two essential dimensions:  existential (big picture) and personal (purpose, mission, reasons-for-being).

  1. Accomplishment/Achievement (A)

Many of us strive to better ourselves in some way, whether we’re seeking to master a skill, achieve a valuable goal, or win in some competitive event. As such, accomplishment is another important aspect that contributes to our ability to flourish.  Mastery of a subject, a skill, a trade or profession bolsters our sense of personal efficacy. We know that we’re really good at something, and contribute our ability/capacity to make our lives and those of others better in some way.

WHY is a flourishing life important?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

― Maya Angelou

Why do so many of us harbor untold stories inside?  Why does our essential truth, our life-narrative remain often obscure and unrealized?  Our unfulfilled possibilities haunt us, and leave us, others, and the world poorer.

What if our lives were truly “told stories”—lives of purpose, meaning, healthy and whole relationships, satisfaction, and accomplishment?

Imagine our own joy and sense of meaning and fulfillment. Imagine our families and communities and how they would be richer. And, imagine the wider ripple effects in our culture, society, and world.