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FLOURISH - Martin Seligman

Happiness and Well Being are not the same thing.

Happiness is about being cheerful in the moment. Well Being is about flourishing and has 5 elements:

Positive emotion – cheerfulness and life satisfaction are vital elements of both happiness and flourishing. This is about “the pleasant life”.

Engagement – this is about being in “flow”, being engaged and busy with constructive activity

You should learn to use your greatest strengths/talents to do this in activities that are done for their own sake.

Relationships – doing something kind is the best and simplest way to be happier. Good positive relationships are essential to wellbeing. A huge part of the human brain is concerned with understanding other people – this is what has given humans their big evolutionary advantage in being able to co-operate.

Meaning - belonging to and being involved with something bigger than yourself

Accomplishment – people pursue achievement and succes for their own sakes

The goal of public policy should be to enhance wellbeing – not happiness. Paradoxically you might actually reduce your wellbeing by naïve attempts to be happy.!

Research shows that there are great variations in the levels of “flourishing” in different countries.

Switzerland, Norway,Finland and Ireland are very high – around 30 percent flourishing. UK is in the middle with 18 percent, France with less than 10 and Russia at the bottom with just 6 percent!

The 2009 study of 150 students for 2 years after they graduated from Rochester University found that the achievement of “American dream” objectives like money, success, fame and being found attractive had NO bearing on happiness. In fact those who concentrated on such objectives tended to be less happy. This is called “hedonic adaptation” - you need more and more of the external rewards to get the buzz you think you want (affluenza). Those who looked for these extrinsic rewards had less time for the autotelic activities. Students who built up their personal development and social contacts achieved the greatest happiness irrespective of their money or career achievements.


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