Note: This is the first of a two-part series.

Quick.  Without thinking a lot about it, can you say what makes your life worth living?

Perhaps you’ve noticed that some people go through life reluctantly, as if dragged against their will.  They don’t feel that they make a difference, and nothing they do seems to give their lives meaning.  In fact, they appear to be languishing in life, living lives of quiet despair, with very little enthusiasm and passion.  They are doing the opposite of thriving: they are functioning at  low levels in their lives, in their relationships, in their jobs or careers and in the their sense of self-worth or self-esteem.

Perhaps you’ve also noticed that some people are filled with energy, enthusiasm, optimism and purpose.  They not only appear to be thriving, they have the inner  experience of flourishing, and they appear to be filled with emotional, psychological, relational and social well-being.

What conditions help create thriving individuals?  More to the point, how can you give yourself the inner experience of well-being: the feeling that you’re thriving in life?  The following traits, stimulated by the book Flourishing (Edited by Corey Keyes and Jonathan Haidt, American Psychological Association), are designed to guide you in living the life well-lived.

Some of the qualities associated with thriving and well-being are:

  • Rising to life’s challenges. Challenging yourself to rise to the occasion and do the best you can at your job or career, at home, socially and in your important relationships
  • Making the most of life’s transitions. Learning and growing from psychological turning points and changes, such as job loss, divorce, a death, disillusionment or failure.  Learning important lessons about what’s important in life and about who you are and what’s important to you.
  • Resilience. Making the most of your setbacks.  Bouncing back from disappointment, failure or defeat, and learning how to wisely and successfully cope with difficulty, adversity or loss.
  • Setting goals, followed by active and energetic engagement with those goals. Persisting in the face of obstacles and setbacks and failures, and resisting the temptation to give up.  Pursuing positive, personally significant goals, as opposed to avoiding negative goals or consequences.  Relate to and engage with other people well.  Openness.  Interest in other people.  Positive expectations and attitudes.
  • Relating to and engaging with other people. Displaying openness and interest in others and having positive attitudes in your relationship with others.
  • Giving back to the world. Strivings that involve creating, giving of one’s self to others, helping the environment or other life forms, and having and influence on future generations.  Guiding and promoting the next generation through parenting, as well as through teaching, mentoring, counseling, leadership and generating products that will survive the self and contribute positively to the next generation.
  • Making decisions that look out for your well being, your happiness and your peace of mind.

I will continue this list in next week’s column.

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