There is a wide array of terms that attempt to get at what I want to call “flourishing.” These include concepts of flow, fullness, being fully alive, self-actualization, and many others. It seems to me that all of these conversations are attempting to answer the more foundational question: what does it mean and look like for human beings to flourish? As I posted before, this question is on my mind more than any other.
Over Turkish coffee and hookah in Hyde Park the other night, two friends and I came up with a vision of what it might look like for us to flourish in community together. While the discussion was mostly geared toward our travel plans together, I think the framework we established might be more widely relevant. It’s essentially a five-point vision:
We want to be continually exposed to other peoples’ realities. This could mean sleeping with the homeless, understanding a place’s politics, dining with the marginalized, and being seriously embedded in real relationships with people whose lives have the ability to fracture our perspective.
2) Intellectual growth
We must be exercising and stretching our intellect, forcing ourselves to think in greater nuance about more things. I want to be able to see the world sociologically, anthropologically, poetically, musically, economically, politically, and scientifically.
This may sound cheesy, but we have good reason to celebrate all of the good things we have been given and entrusted with. From dancing all night to being engaged in the beauty of music and artistic expression, we need to continually counter the gray and sleepy humdrum of modernity with an engaged and hearty spirit of playfulness and foolishness.
My boss once told me that leaders need to ask themselves two questions: 1) What am I creating? and 2) Do people believe me? While this is bent toward entrepreneurial leadership, it speaks strongly to my desire to not only critique, but create. However informal or subtle, we need to hone our ability to translate ideas into reality, as Adam has with this blog.
Regardless of one’s faith or moral tradition, we are becoming a certain sort of person as. How are we surrounding ourselves with sources and creating habits that enable us to move toward ideality. My personal ideal is the person of Christ, but yours could be King, Nietzsche, Gandhi, or Dylan. The question remains, how are we becoming the disciples of our heroes?
I realize that this is an unscientific, somewhat vague, and idealistic vision of human flourishing. What are your thoughts on this? Is flourishing an entirely personal venture or, as the field of positive psychology asserts, can we come up with frameworks for understanding fullness? In your experience, where does this framework miss the mark?