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  • Writer's pictureMartin Olson

What is flourishing?

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Maybe you’ve heard the word flourishing thrown around in conversations around health and wellbeing. It’s a concept I first encountered learning about positive psychology and to me flourishing means being in a state where we are operating at our greatest potential. I believe that someone who is flourishing is connected with themselves and also connected with something beyond themselves. There are times in my life where I really feel like I’m flourishing. Sometimes this occurs when I feel really connected with a friend or family member. Other times it’s being in nature or listening to a beautiful piece of music. It’s a state where I feel open-hearted and creative, where the world seems full of possibility and the future seems bright. It’s also a state that I feel is characterized by love and positivity. You can see the good in things and can really be in the moment. Overall, to be in a state of flourishing is something that I’m trying to cultivate throughout my life.

While flourishing probably sounds like a pretty nice thing to most people, some may wonder if flourishing is actually what we should be striving for. Don’t we need to feel bad about certain things? Aren’t there a lot of problems in the world that require our concern and serious attention? Is it right to feel good and happy all the time? Would that mean we are neglecting serious problems? These are definitely questions I have asked myself. But what I believe now is that by being in a state of flourishing, we have greater capacity to really make the world a better place. When we are flourishing, we are at the peak of our creative and solution-finding potential. I believe that flourishing means we are taking the most constructive approach to things and that by seeing the good and feeling good we expand the good. But with that being said, I don't think pursuing flourishing means ignoring the "bad" feelings. Rather, I believe this pursuit involves choosing a way to connect with these feelings and move through them in a constructive way.

On a spiritual level, I believe flourishing means we are connecting to something that is greater than ourselves but not separate from ourselves. I feel that when we are flourishing we are connecting with our true essence and that this essence goes beyond our concept of being a separate entity. So by connecting with our truer selves, we are also going beyond ourselves.

On a practical level, I see flourishing as an art. Just because I always want to be in this higher state doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. In every moment I think we have the potential to be in this state but there can also be certain blocks to it. I also see the pursuit of flourishing as something that isn’t entirely an individual pursuit, but something that involves a combination of individual reflection and connection with others. I also feel that certain experiences and actions can really help us find this state of flourishing, things such as being in nature, engaging in meaningful work, and practicing a healthy lifestyle (i.e. diet, exercise, sleep). Overall, I see flourishing as involving a dynamic combination of things which makes pursuing it both an art and something where supporting each other and connecting with your fellow human beings is essential.

In addition, like I mentioned above, I think sometimes on a practical level there can be certain blocks to being in a flourishing state. I think with counselling we can really get in touch with and work through these blocks. If there’s frustration, anxiety, sadness or another difficult feeling that we’re grappling with, I believe that by coming into contact with that feeling we can shine light on it and work through it. I don’t think flourishing is necessarily the total absence of more “negative” feelings, but rather having a good process of being open and connected with them, such that we can work through them and turn those feelings into our allies. I believe that by embracing this process, we naturally arrive at a more consistently positive state without being in denial of the times when there is a mental block or when things feel more difficult.

With Flourish Wellbeing, my goal is to provide space and infrastructure for people to support each other in their common pursuit of living a flourishing life. As part of this, as a counsellor I will be working with people to help them with this endeavour. In this position, I don’t necessarily see myself as the expert or guru with all the answers, but simply as someone who is deeply interested in living a flourishing life personally and in supporting others in their own journey. While initially this organization will be based around me offering counselling and coaching services to support people in their flourishing journey, my dream is for this to be an organization that provides a variety of services and structures to help people come together in pursuit of flourishing. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, I invite you to reach out and join me in this journey towards flourishing.

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