Languishing and Flourishing


Blog post originally published in 2015

What is the difference between people who languish and people who flourish?  People who flourish have at least 3 heartfelt positive emotional experiences for every heart-wrenching negative one.  This might seem like a hard balance to strike, but think of it like you would feeding a toddler.  Just like you might not achieve a completely balanced diet for a 2 year old every day, you can strive for it over a week or a month.

Barbara Fredrickson, in her book Positivity, identifies 10 forms of positivity: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love.

Joy is more than happiness; think about things like a surprise birthday party, an unexpected bonus, or the birth of a child.

Gratitude is the heartfelt thanks you feel when you are overwhelmed at work and a co-worker offers to take a task off your plate.

Serenity is an afterglow emotion.  I recently felt it after a great conversation with my teen because I recognized some values I have tried hard to instill.

Interest is when something new or different draws your attention.  I recently went to an Albanian wedding and I was so interested to learn about all of the customs and traditions.

Although most positivity arises when we feel safe, hope arises when things are not going well and hopelessness and despair could be just as likely.  I felt hopeful when the ENT doctor said he thought he could help resolve my sinus infection that had lasted all winter.

We experience pride when we are to blame for something good.  I was proud of fixing the kitchen sink without calling the plumber.

Amusement usually occurs in a social situation.  I am frequently amused when I hear my child interacting and laughing with their friends.

Inspiration comes from witnessing human nature at its best.

We experience awe when we feel a part of something larger than ourselves.  For me that happens a lot in nature, witnessing a beautiful sunset over the ocean or hearing a big storm rage outside.

Love encompasses all of the above.

Are you getting enough of these positive emotions to balance the negative?  What are ways you can add them into your diet?


About Author

Lisa Allred

Work Life Program Manager

Lisa Allred comes to SAS with a long history of working with families throughout the lifespan. After receiving her undergraduate degree at Wake Forest Universtity and her Masters in Social Work from UNC-CH, her career began as a child therapist focusing on parenting, anxiety and trauma. She then moved into college counseling where she emphasized student wellness and balance.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top