In 2011, psychologist Martin Seligman wrote the book Flourish, which introduced a new theory for the Positive Psychology movement that centered not on pursuing happiness, but rather on pursuing a sense of holistic wellness.
“I used to think that the topic of positive psychology was happiness, that the gold standard for measuring happiness was life satisfaction, and that the goal of positive psychology was to increase life satisfaction. I now think that the topic of positive psychology is well-being, that the gold standard for measuring well-being is flourishing, and that the goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing.” - Martin Seligman
In Seligman’s view, happiness — a topic he had written extensively about, notably in his bestselling book Authentic Happiness — is too narrow of a lens through which to measure life satisfaction.
Well-being, through flourishing, is a much more nuanced state. In the book, Seligman states that we can flourish by focusing our attention on five measurable elements:
- Experiencing emotions such as gratitude, hope, and contentment.
- Activities that fully absorb our attention, entering us into a state of ‘flow’.
- A sense of strong trust, connection, and support with others.
- An altruistic purpose in life that is bigger than the self.
- Having ambition and goals and following through on them.
Seligman wrote: “Authentic happiness theory is one-dimensional: it is about feeling good and it claims that the way we choose our life course is to try to maximize how we feel. Well-being theory is about all five pillars ... (it) is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships, and accomplishment.”
It isn’t just about feeling good in the moment, it’s about recognizing our complexities and building a life that is meaningful.
This distinction really resonated with me. All too often people focus on being happy or positive —but there is so much more to life than the elusive and often fleeting sense of being happy.
Co-Founder, Holstee & Relfection.app
P.S. In this month's Digital Wellness Guide we explore the many ways to prioritize our well-being daily and for the long haul. We share poetry, philosophy, and a range of activities to help you reflect on the role Wellness plays in your life.
Begin your day feeling grounded and inspired.
A free 30-day email series where we share the most impactful stories and ideas that have helped us on our journey to live a more meaningful life.
✌️ Free. Unsubscribe anytime.
“I’m in the midst of big life transitions at the moment, chasing book deals, relocating, taking risks, carving out a life that feels honest, so your emails have been a perfectly timed source of inspiration and reassurance.” Jo in London, Great Britain
"Love the emails! They are a great reset or what I would call mindful chiropractic adjustment to approaching the day. Thank you!" Laurie in Albuquerque, New Mexico
"I love the emails. They give me a new perspective and things to think about and apply in my life." Monica in Johannesburg, South Africa
"It's food for the soul and sets my spiritual compass in the right direction." Farahdiva Samsul in Assam, India
"Absolutely LOVE the daily emails. One of the only email subscriptions I read daily. Keep them coming!!" Adriana in New York, New York
"The emails are thought-provoking and uplifting. A little pause from the crazy happenings of modern life. A quick chance to reflect, smile, and think about a life lived mindfully." Pharan in Queensland, Australia
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the Mindfully Mailed series. Daily I await this little nugget of goodness to hit my inbox each day." Tambria in Shreveport, Louisiana
Welcome to Holstee
Living with intention is an ongoing practice, not a destination. Inspired by this, we’ve created a range of products to help you on your journey to live both fully and mindfully, including the Holstee Membership, Reflection Cards, and our recently-launched Reflection.app.
This article is part of our series on the theme of Wellness.EXPLORE Wellness →
Inspiration and tools to help you live a more meaningful life.VISIT THE SHOP →