What Does “Flourishing” Mean (How To Measure It On A Scale)

Many people think that flourishing is a synonym for happiness, but it is not.

Flourishing expresses a holistic view of what it means to live a happy or good life. It includes a wide range of emotions, behaviors, and thoughts that make people joyful and whole.

Another word for flourishing is thriving. The opposite of flourishing is languishing.

What do we mean by “Flourishing”

Flourishing is the process of becoming our best selves. It is living up to our fullest potential and reaching our highest goals.

Flourishing is a core concept in positive psychology It was first ideated by Corey Keyes and Barbara Fredrickson.

According to Fredrickson, flourishing has 4 key components:

  1. goodness,
  2. generative,
  3. growth, and
  4. resilience.

Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness” popularized the term “flourishing” as a vital concept for daily living.

Flourishing, according to him, is the process of becoming one’s best self, which involves positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment (PERMA).

PERMA: 5 Pillars of Happiness

Seligman defines “flourish” as “to grow, develop, expand or spread fully and richly.”

He says flourishing does not mean being happy all of the time because good things keep happening to us.

To live a flourishing life, one must also face and overcome challenges, as well as grow after a personal traumatic event. It also involves having both self-awareness and empathy for others.

Flourishing is not the absence of illness, or the presence of positive feelings. Flourishing is a process of becoming one’s best self.

What flourishing means and how to measure it?
What flourishing means and how to measure it?

How to measure your flourishing on the Flourishing Scale (FS)

First, let’s find out how well you are flourishing.

Flourishing is “a state where people experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning, and positive social functioning, most of the time,” as per the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (PDF).

Flourishing Scale (FS) is a brief 8-item scale that measures your self-perceived success in vital areas of your life, such as relationships, self-esteem, sense of purpose, and optimism (Diener et al., 2009). It gives a single psychological well-being score.

Take the test and find out how much are you flourishing. The average score among 573 university students was 45.4 points (midpoint 32).

he Flourishing Scale
The Flourishing Scale

The authors state the scale is copyrighted but you are free to use the FS without permission or charge as long as you give credit. Here is the reference to credit the authors of the scale: Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi. D., Oishi, S., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2009). New measures of well-being: Flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 39, 247-266.

Final Words

To assess flourishing, ask yourself, “How happy do I typically feel?”, “How pleased am I with my life as a whole?”, and “Do I feel optimistic about my future?”

A key part of flourishing is having a few close social bonds. Having a few people you can rely on, whether family members or close friends, can help you flourish.

We all need our own sweet time to flourish. But we can begin to flourish a little more by practicing simple gestures like expressing gratitude and being kind every day.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.