How will you flourish in 2023 and beyond?

You are still on track to reach your goals for the new year, right? Now, how about considering a tool to help you flourish not only in 2023, but also beyond?

Before I introduce the quick tool, let me say flourish is a word that I have always appreciated. Flourish brings to mind colorful flowers and lush gardens. My mother was a florist, so the word may resonate deeply for me on several levels. Recently, when I saw the cover of a book called Flourish, by Martin Seligman, posted by a Facebook friend, my interest jumped. Word-of-mouth was enough for me to order it a few days later.

The key takeaway of this excellent work of positive psychology is that our well-being is based on five factors: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement. And that the goal of life is to flourish.

By capitalizing on these five factors we put ourselves into a position to do just that.

Test that theory!

My mind quickly tested this theory by looking back over my life for moments when I really did flourish, and when I did not. I saw that I failed in areas where I had made goals, because I did not account for all the five factors above. The pain is real, and the list of my “opportunities to begin again more intelligently” exists.

However, what also struck me immediately was that my public speaking journey ticked all the boxes that Martin Seligman sets out as the signs of flourishing. This was a long period of self-growth and expansion which began in late 2009 and ended in early 2020 when COVID resticitions on “public speaking” turned my attention elsewhere.

At the start, I had no clear reason why I attended my first Toastmasters meeting. Intuition and the need to change ideas after the financial crisis of 2008 led me there. And, I began at a very low point. An all-time low. I showed up at the Busy Professionals club in Paris in a pair of new boots, which hurt my feet, knowing that I needed to reboot and reboost my life. Yet, within weeks, I was on a new path that would see me flourish over a period of years.

How Seligman’s theory matches my speaking journey.

  • Positive Emotions : I quickly found I loved to speak in public. I enjoyed writing and making speeches and found pleasure listening to others from a variety of backgrounds. Learning was fun as the meetings were lively and full of positive emotions. The feel-good factor was high.
  • Engagement : The bi-monthly schedule helped me commit fully. A regular schedule of speeches, and diverse club roles also increased engagement. Furthermore, improvised speaking activities, called Table Topics, were an opportunity to lose myself “in the flow”. A flow state, as Seligman says, is when we lose sense of time and fully engage. We only recognize the fun we had “in the moment” after the activity is over.
  • Relationships: The club setting allowed me to meet some of the best and brightest people from around the globe. I attended conferences in France and abroad. I received helpful advice, support and friendship. One member invited me to his wedding in India, another asked me to play Santa Claus, three years in a row, at her annual Christmas Storytelling event. Even during Covid, I connected with Joy in this role of making others happy.
  • Achievement: From applause, to ribbons, awards and then trophies, Toastmasters allowed me to reach success I had never imagined before. I have spoken at conferences and a TEDx and run public speaking workshops for International firms and NGOs. I even got paid to perform comedy alongside Sebastian Marx – only a few euros, but it made me feel like a million bucks!
  • Meaning: Developing leadership skills gave new meaning to my life. Becoming president of the club helped me understand how I was helping others reach their goals in the club, area, division, district, and international organisation. This added meaning to my contribution. I saw the global spread of public speaking skills as a positive for the world. Coaching TEDx speakers was another avenue for making the world a better place, one speaker at time – or “creating colorful connections”, the slogan of my method “Speak-the-Rainbow.”

This short list highlights how I flourished in each of the five areas Seligman identifies as key to our well-being. Remember I stumbled onto my journey and had no vision of where it could go. Luckily things aligned for me, and I persisted with it because I intuitively knew I was on the right path to improving my well-being. Imagine how far you can go if you set out to flourish!

Make choices and goals that help you flourish

Start flourishing by reviewing your actions in terms of Seligman’s five points. For example, my desire today is to build a new career as a visual artist, but my real goal is to flourish. With that in mind, I listed how being a visual artist helps me find positive emotions, engagement, relationships, acheivement, and meaning. The path is clear. And I can make better choices in this new activity if I think about how they lead me towards my end goal of flourishing.

Make your “Flourish” checklist

Grab a pen and paper and write the five headings with plenty of space between them to fill in:

  • positive emotions
  • engagement
  • relationships
  • achievement
  • meaning

Now take a few minutes to write the benefits your goals and resolutions will pay off in each of the categories. What other steps are you taking in your life to flourish? Fill in any blank spaces in the five areas with new goals or ideas that may arise. Lastly, eliminate anything which is not contributing to creating more pleasure, more flow and engagement, stronger relationships, greater success, or a deeper sense of purpose. By focusing on these five factors, you will kickstart your year and, possibily, your life.

And remember that once the flow of “engagement” kicks in, time will disappear. Days will become weeks, months, and then years. By doing this little exercise today, you might be setting yourself up to flourish throughout 2023 and well beyond. I sincerely hope you do.

Happy New Year!

Embrace the beauty in you and around you.

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