Flourishing at work… a necessity? or a luxury?

When it comes to Positive Psychology, you might here the word ‘flourishing’ used a lot. It is basically the opposite of ‘languishing.’ In other words, to flourish is to live the opposite of a life that feels hollow and empty; it measures the overall wellbeing of your lifestyle and is an important part of happiness.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, many of us are simply going through the motions of life and not flourishing. A recent study ‘Flourising in New Zealand workers’ (Hone, L. C., Jarden, A., Duncan, S., & Schofield, G. M. (2015) found that 25% of people in New Zealand are flourishing and there are many pathways in which people can flourish. While the study looked at the work environment, it can also relate to other parts of our lives – hobbies, socialising, family time etc.
Some of the factors examined in the study as things to make people flourish, include:

Expressing genuine appreciation.
We all like to receive a compliment we feel we deserve for hard work. According to this study, workers who felt highly appreciated felt 29 times more likely to flourish than those who felt least appreciated. It’s not all about receiving praise and appreciation either. Giving appreciating can also boost our wellbeing and help us flourish. Never assume that your employees or co-workers know how you feel – express to them why you value them and practice strength appreciation (naming the strengths someone has and how they use them well).

Know your strengths
In the New Zealand study, workers who were highly aware of their strengths were nine times more likely to flourish than those who were not aware of their strengths. It can be difficult to take the time to think about your strengths and value them – sometimes you can feel a little arrogant to admit to them. But you shouldn’t! We are always so quick to criticise ourselves, so try applying this to admitting what you are good at instead. If you have trouble – ask your friends and family what they think your character strengths are. Just being aware of them, can help boost your wellbeing.

Use your character strengths often
Now that you know what your strengths are – use them and use them regularly every day! In the study, workers who reported using their strengths a lot were 18 times more likely to flourish than those who reported that they use their strengths the least. Each morning, pick a strength and set out to use it. This will act as a reminder for you. When you do this often, it will become natural. Note how your confidence boosts and you begin to flourish. As a result, employers and colleagues will value and appreciate you more and you begin to live and work to your full potential.

Some other pathways to flourishing include financial security, good physical health, work-life balance, job satisfaction and volunteering. While 25% of people in New Zealand workplaces were flourishing, according to this study, that leaves 75% who are not. Simply by learning what factors can help us flourish is the first step to improving our wellbeing, in the workplace and at home.

Reference
Hone, L. C., Jarden, A., Duncan, S., & Schofield, G. M. (2015). Flourishing in New Zealand workers: Associations with lifestyle behaviors, physical health, psychosocial, and work-related indicators. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(9), 973-983.

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