Flourish set out quite the spectacular goal in just the first sentence; “This book will help you flourish”…..
That’s quite the statement. Taking into my particular mindset when I began the book, I honestly felt put off by such a grand statement and, I must admit, this mindset remained for most of the book.
Based on the foundation of positive psychology, the author, Martin E.P. Seligman, outlines how positive psychology is not based on the subjective study of happiness but on well-being and how we flourish as individuals. Our well-being is based on the 5 pillars, he calls PERMA:
(P): positive emotions
(E): Engagement ( a state we are unaware of until reflection as we are so engaged at the time)
(R) ; Positive Relationships
(M): Meaning (belonging to or being part of something bigger than yourself)
Although Seligman starts off by identifying his goal (to have us flourish) and provides us with a background to his well-being theory, he tends to veer of course and provide more background on the organizations (education, United States Military) that have adopted his well-being program than on the strategies to help readers accomplish the intended goal.
One aspect of the book that resonated with me was the Losado ratio. The Losado principal identifies the ratio of positive to negative comments that you make as you communicate. Obviously a more positive Losado number will lend itself to supporting positive relationships, which as Seligman explains, is key to well-being. Reflect on how you speak with those closest to you. Aim to increase the positive comments, and decrease the criticism. Obviously this a worthwhile goal for all of us to strive for.
I also liked the “active, constructive responding” strategy that he provided about how to respond to someone’s comments about their experiences.When someone is recounting something about their life, they benefit from the emotions that come along with retelling their story. As Seligman pointed out, “how we respond can either build the relationship or undermine it”. By asking questions that prompt that memory (positive) or validate their feelings (negative) rather than providing a superficial response, we once again create opportunities for supporting positive relationships in our lives. I am going to make a greater effort in responding with this “active, constructive responding” strategy in mind.
Flourish is not an easy read. The author started off with grand intentions, but in the end, I am no closer to flourishing than I was before I read this book. For those truly looking to flourish and looking for strategies to support this goal, this is not the resource to read.