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Twelve Ways to Flourish This Spring

When Spring is in the air and the world outside begins to awaken and blossom, so do we!  What is flourishing?

Flourishing is "when people experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning, and positive social functioning, most of the time."  That means that flourishing encompasses many feelings, activities, and thoughts that make people feel happy and complete.

Flourishing includes positive emotions, mental and physical health, meaning and prupose in life, close relationships, and often virtues like wisdom, courage and kindness.  Flourishing is similar to the idea of having optimal well-being.  Try these strategies to help yourself flourish this spring.

1.  Practice gratitude
Gratitude journals (writing down the things in life you are greatful for) have been found to increase several aspects of flourishing.  Other gratitude exercises can be done with a friend or romantic partner.

2.  Build better social relationships
Developing healthy relationships is one of the best things we can do to flourish.  That's because social connection is sometimes thought to be the most important determinant of our health and happiness.  For example, social connection has been shown to be one of the strongest predictiors of mortality.  That's why investing in our relationships is so improtant.

3.  Savor
Savoring does not just refer to how one appreciates the tast of a meal - we can savor positive experiences by thinking about happy events, sharing or celebrating something good with others, and paying more attention to positive emotional experiences.  These savoring practices have been shown to improve happiness.

4.  Imagine your best possible self
Thinking about your ideal life or the best possible version of yourself can increase happiness, life satisfaction and optimism which are important elements of flourishing.

5.  Do random acts of kindness
Doing things you wouldn't normally do to help others or be kind has positive effects on multiple aspects of flourishing like happiness and positive emotions.  These acts can even inspire others to do the same.

6.  Volunteer
Volunteering, like acts of kindness, can help you flourish by providing a sense of social connection, purpose, happiness and well-being.

7.  Be yourself
Inauthenticity can occur when we focus too much on meeting other people's expectations.  To be happier, we need to make sure our actions represent us.  Once we are being ourselves, we can flourish more easily.

8.  Know your worth
If we don't like ourselves much, we  can struggle to flourish.  By getting clear and knowing your worth, you can start to feel better about yourself and your life.  Practicing things like self-compassion and reversing negative self-talk are good places to start. 

9.  Get your needs met
One theory suggests that our core psychological needs are autonomy, competence and relatedness.  Autonomy is the sense that we can choose our direction in life.  Competance is the sense that we are effectively using our capabilities.  Relatedness involves feeling socially connected to important others.  According to Basic Needs Theory, these are the main things we need to feel happy and fulfilled.

10.  Set meaningful goals
Setting meaningful goals and working towards them can help us flourish.  Simply setting and working towards goals can help us better understand what really matters to us so that we can pursue meaning more easily.

11.  Go to therapy
Going to therapy for mental health or marital counseling is a great way to help you flourish.  Multiple kinds of therapy have been found to have positive impacts on mental health and relationships.

12.  Believe you can
There is actually a lot of evidence that believing in something makes it more likely to come about.  Our positive expectations actually help lead us to positive outcomes.  Be optimistic about your ability to flourish.

Holt-Lunstad, J., Robles, T. F., & Sbarra, D. A. (2017). Advancing social connection as a public health priority in the United States. American Psychologist, 72(6), 517.

Goldman, B. M., & Kernis, M. H. (2002). The role of authenticity in healthy psychological functioning and subjective well-being. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 5(6), 18-20.

Vlachopoulos, S. P., & Michailidou, S. (2006). Development and initial validation of a measure of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in exercise: The Basic Psychological Needs in Exercise Scale. Measurement in physical education and exercise science, 10(3), 179-201.

Emmons, R. A. (2003). Personal goals, life meaning, and virtue: wellsprings of a positive life.

Benson, H., & Friedman, R. (1996). Harnessing the power of the placebo effect and renaming it remembered wellness. Annual Review of Medicine-Selected Topics in the Clinical Sciences, 47, 193-200.


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