What does it mean to flourish?

Simply put, flourishing is a state of feeling good and functioning well. While it might sound good, there’s a growing body of evidence that clearly lays out the reasons why we should deeply care, and strive to get there and stay there. (You can jump to some of that business-related data now, if you like…)

And, yes, there’s a lot of science behind determining if a person is flourishing. The scientific core of the flourishing assessment was developed over fifteen years ago by Dr. Corey Keyes, an award-winning professor of sociology at Emory University and a member of our team. Used by millions, spanning continents and languages, it was originally developed for work in the field of mental health. Hundreds of studies have used it as part of their design, and well over ten thousand (yes, 10,000+) publications have cited his work within the last five years alone. Yes, it’s considered the “gold standard” for measuring flourishing. 

The flourishing model and the operational definitions of indicators of mental well-being which make up the assessment are found below.


Vocabulary Lesson

A quick vocabulary for those who skipped advanced Latin…

Hedonic – (feeling good) – the measurement of emotional well-being. This represents the energy tied directly to a person’s discretionary effort – or, the difference between happily going the extra mile and feeling good versus simply plodding along, or worse.

Eudaimonic – (functioning well) – the measurement of achievement and purpose as determined by their social and psychological well-being. This represents the level at which a person is functioning well – fulfilled, working with a sense of purpose and place, and getting things done.

Components of Flourishing

Emotional well-being

Positive affect – regularly cheerful, in good spirits, happy, calm and peaceful, satisfied, and full of life.
Happiness – Feels happiness toward past or about present life overall on in domains of life*.
Life satisfaction – Sense of contentment or satisfaction with past or present life overall on in life domains*.

* Examples of life domains: employment, marriage, neighborhood

Social Well-being

Social acceptance – Positive attitude toward others while acknowledging and accepting people’s complexity.
Social actualization – Cares and believes that, collectively, people have potential and society can evolve positively.
Social contribution – Feels that one’s life is useful to society and that one’s contributions are valued by others.
Social coherence – has interest in society, feels it’s intelligible, somewhat logical, predictable, and meaningful.
Social integration – Feels part of, and a sense of belonging to, a community, derives comfort and support from community.

Psychological Well-being

Self-acceptance – Positive attitude toward oneself and past life, and concedes and accepts varied aspects of self.
Personal growth – Insight into one’s potential, sense of development, and open to challenging new experiences.
Purpose in life – Has goals, beliefs that affirm sense of direction in life, and feels life has purpose and meaning.
Environmental mastery – Has capability to manage complex environment and can choose or create suitable environs.
Autonomy – Comfortable with self-direction, has internal standards, resists unsavory social pressures.
Positive relations with others – Has warm, satisfying, trusting relationships, and is capable of empathy and intimacy.