Learn how to bloom and thrive in your life.

What is flourishing?

Flourishing is “when people experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning, and positive social functioning, most of the time.”

That means flourishing encompasses many feelings, activities, and thoughts that make people happy and complete.

Flourishing includes positive emotions, mental and physical health, meaning and purpose, close relationships, and virtues like wisdom, courage, and kindness. Flourishing is similar to the idea of having optimal well-being.

How to Flourish

Try these strategies to help yourself flourish.

1. Practice gratitude

Gratitude journals (writing down things in life you are grateful for) increase several aspects of flourishing, according to research. So why not try sharing what you are thankful for 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 considered the most critical determinant of health and happiness. For example, social connection is one of the strongest predictors of mortality. That’s why investing in our relationships is so important.

3. Savour

Savouring does not just refer to how we appreciate the taste of a meal—we can savour positive experiences by thinking about happy events, sharing or celebrating something good with others, and paying more attention to positive emotional experiences. These types of savouring exercises have been shown to improve happiness.

4. Imagine your best possible self

Thinking about your ideal life or the best possible version of yourself in the future can increase happiness, life satisfaction, and optimism, essential elements of flourishing.

5. Do random acts of kindness

​Intentionally doing things you wouldn’t normally do to help others or be kind positively affects 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 authentically 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. Competence is the sense that we are effectively using our capabilities. Relatedness involves feeling connected socially to important others. According to the Basic Needs Theory, these are the main things we need to feel happy and fulfilled.

10. Set meaningful goals

Setting meaningful life goals and working towards these goals can help us flourish. Why? Simply setting and working towards goals can help us better understand what matters most to us so that we can pursue meaning more easily.

11. Go to therapy

Going to therapy for mental health or marital counselling is a great way to help you flourish. Many different types of therapy positively impact mental health and relationships.

12. Believe you can

Evidence shows that believing in something makes it more likely to come about. Our positive expectations do help lead us to positive outcomes. So above all, be (ahem…) optimistic about your ability to flourish.

In Summary

  • Flourishing is similar to having optimal well-being. It includes experiencing positive emotions as well as good mental and physical health.
  • Gratitude, random acts of kindness and volunteerism are some things you can do to help yourself flourish.
  • You can struggle to flourish if you don’t like yourself. If that’s the case, try reversing negative self-talk to increase your self-compassion.


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.

Sharon Tomkins

Sharon is a New Zealand qualified Health Coach and Personal Trainer, as well as an ICF Certified Coach and Accredited Coaching Supervisor. Sharon was awarded the 'Health & Wellness Coach of the Year' 2022, by The Health Coaches Australia & New Zealand Association.
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