What does it mean to flourish?
In the book Flourish, Martin Seligman explains just that – and debunks the be-all-end-all concept of happiness that he and so many of us have been subscribing to. Happiness is not the goal we’re all seeking.
How come people have children, even though studies show that having children doesn’t bring more happiness? How come we love the feeling of flow, even though we lose track of time and don’t feel much of anything? Are all introverts less happy because our moods are generally lower? Why do so many people achieve great success and find they aren’t happy?
Seligman’s framework explains these and many other questions. Instead of pursuing the single goal of happiness, he says, we pursue these five things:
- Positive emotion: Momentary feelings of pleasure, glee, satisfaction, etc.
- Engagement: Flow, or being fully immersed in what we’re doing.
- Accomplishment: Mastery and success.
- Meaning: Belonging to and serving something bigger than the self.
He selected these five criteria because we choose them for their own sake, and they all contribute to well-being. In this new framework, our 24 character strengths can play a role in all these areas.