How to Flourish this Fall

Source: Diane Dreher photo

Despite all the challenges and changes around us, this Fall can be a season to flourish, to live more joyously and vibrantly. Flourishing, according to positive psychologist Martin Seligman, is composed of Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement—PERMA (Seligman, 2018, p. 261).

Have you been flourishing?

Each day of our lives is filled with sunlight and shadows. Do you spend time dwelling in the shadows—caught up in nonstop busyness, mundane chores, worrying, and focusing on the negative “what ifs”? Or do you focus on the light and beauty around you. Research has shown that we can cultivate happiness by choice, by mindfully focusing our attention (Hansen, 2009, p. 177).

This season, you can choose to focus on the light, cultivating more PERMA in your days. Here’s how:

  1. Positive Emotions. Pause to notice the beauty around you—the vibrant colors of the autumn leaves or a glorious sunset. Begin a new gratitude habit: at the end of the day think of three things you’re grateful for, focusing on the light in your life.
  2. Engagement. When do you find yourself really engaged in what you’re doing, in a state of flow, one with the process? When you’re out in nature, reading, writing, making music with friends, or pursuing a favorite hobby? What can you do today to experience more engagement?
  3. Relationships. Positive relationships enrich our lives. Who do you feel especially close to? Who are those people you can love and laugh with, people you can speak to from the heart? How can you cultivate more positive relationships—reaching out to connect with someone you know, to appreciate the people around you or get back in touch with an old friend?
  4. Meaning. What brings your life meaning? Do you find inspiration in meditation, prayer, or a silent walk in the woods? Do you give yourself time to reflect so you can make more meaningful choices? What activities do you find especially meaningful and how can you include more of them in your life in this season?
  5. Achievement. We do not exist for ourselves alone but to make our own personal contribution to the world. What achievements are you most proud of? Looking into your heart, what would you like to achieve now—and what’s been holding you back? What steps can you take in this golden season to move in the direction of your dreams?

What will you do with this precious season of your life?

References

Hansen, R. with Mendius, R. (2009). Buddha’s brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2018). The hope circuit: A psychologist’s journey from helplessness to optimism. New York, NY: Hachette.

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