When I reflect on times in my life when I feel I have flourished they are not necessarily times when I am at my happiest. Happiness is perhaps a more transitory thing, and to recognise it in the moment is to recognise a specific context; perhaps an event, perhaps the people there with you, perhaps a celebration, an achievement…
Flourishing relates more to a period of growth; it feels to me sometimes like times when pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit together, and things that I have been working towards (personally and/or professionally) start to bear fruit. These times are always related in some way to positive relationship, without which it’s difficult for things to run smoothly.
Interestingly that sense of flourishing has sometimes coincided with periods of (enforced) inactivity. These have been times, not necessarily easy, when I have had to slow down, and this has given me a chance to reflect, and to listen to feedback, and to recognise where good things are happening, and where perhaps there are aspects I need to work on. And I give myself the time to tend to these thoughts, shift position, grow and dream.
Reading Sarah Monk’s fascinating piece for The Positive Psychology People (Flourishing – What Does it Mean to Flourish? – The Positive Psychology People) I was struck by how much of the research relating to the concept of flourishing supports career thinking. How I often use this idea with career seekers to spot where flourishing has taken place before and what creates the space for it. Also how we will often discuss different parts of a person’s life, and what is necessary at that point in time, and whether it will facilitate flourishing – what and where are the different jigsaw pieces, and when will they need to come together?
Sarah Monk finishes her piece with the most wonderful statement, which I copy here because it captures so well the joy of supporting people with their career thinking: “Whilst there are some key elements, there is no one right way to flourish. Further, more rigorous and sophisticated research might help us understand the processes and how to support them, but the journey is our own.”