What is ‘Mental Flourishing’?

Mental Flourishing

To live a life where you are flourishing mentally is about feeling good and functioning well. Also known as thriving, flourishing is a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being that is more than the absence of disease or illness. It is a continual process, and the steps are unique for each individual. And while this process is different for everyone, there are some things that we can all implement, such as mindfulness and meditation to get closer to achieving a state of ‘Mental Flourishing’.

Five qualities commonly found in people who flourish

Dr Martin Seligman, the renowned ‘founding father’ of ‘mental flourishing’ delves into the minds of individuals who meditate regularly. He documented what took them from ‘okay’ to what abilities and mindsets they now encompass in a mental-flourishing state of mind. He notes that mindfulness and meditation practices have shown promise in encouraging the feeling in a state of ‘flourishing’.

Here are five qualities that make individuals who flourish stand out from the rest:

1. The ability to control where their attention falls
“Just as our heart beats involuntarily, our mind thinks involuntarily” – Emily Fletcher.
Imagine being able to control your mind and your attention falls. The attention that is focused on negative emotions of worry, anger, sadness is the energy used ineffectively. Instead, by focusing your attention on emotions that positively serve you like creativity, passion, analysis, observation and growth you will begin to feel a sense of relief and relaxation.

2. Use their time to the fullest
Every individual struggles with elements of time management and the idea of ‘not having enough time’. This can so easily lead to frustration and the feeling of defeat. ‘Flourishing’ means choosing to consciously spend time on activities that bring us a sense of joy and accomplishment.

3. Constantly striving for better
People aren’t born into a natural state of flourishing. Instead, they are constantly searching for areas of improvement. We can so easily criticize ourselves and others, or we can learn to search for improvement. It’s about looking for ways to strengthen your mind, choose how you spend your time more wisely. Those who flourish have developed the knowledge and skills to always strive for ways to develop and grow.

4. The ability to communicate and provide feedback
Sometimes we can take opinions personally.  We could reframe this and look at this as an opportunity to better ourselves. The ability to listen and provide feedback is a great way to inspire improvement and connectivity to things greater than your sense of self.

5. The commitment to positive experiences
If we want to flourish, we must be open to it and to the experiences that come along with it. By committing to joy and delight with meaning and purpose, we can examine different areas of our lives to ensure we are flourishing. To flourish isn’t a button that we can switch on. It is the commitment to sustaining a state of happiness, to take care of ourselves in any way possible through the ups and downs of life.

Why you should practice mindfulness?

One simple way to bring the aforementioned qualities to light, is meditation. It can be challenging to find the time for a 30-minute meditation. Instead, it might be easier to build a 5-10 minute micro-practice into your daily routine. Experts suggest that these a micro-practice can still be extremely beneficial for the mind and body.

Below we have highlighted some of the positive effects from regularly practicing mindfulness:

Relieves stress
Studies have shown that meditating regularly can release anxious thoughts, restoring a sense of calm and clarity to the mind. This stimulates the sensory process within the mind that works with attitudes of duality. For example; good and bad, hot and cold, pleasure and pain. You can learn to actively train your mind to focus on the positives, rather than the unconscious switch to the negatives.

Improves your mood
While meditation certainly won’t cure depression or pain, research has shown that it can be useful to assist in the treatment of mental and physical discomfort. Regular meditation releases brain chemicals that boosts your mood and lessens pain within your body.

Increases your focus
Meditation is essentially a form of decluttering your mind and clearing mental space. If you are finding it hard to stay attentive to certain tasks, or perhaps you don’t feel present throughout your day, meditation might help you and help to reset your mind.

How can you start practicing mindfulness?

Guided meditation
If you’re new to meditation, we recommend attending a guided meditation. Attending a class in-person at a studio is always preferable as a beginner. The practitioner facilitating the class, can get a feel for how everyone in the room is feeling and use cues to help you stay on track during the session.  A guided meditation in a space away from distraction is fantastic for your mind to rest and be observed, which can be especially important for those with exceptionally busy minds and lives.

If you prefer a moving meditation, you could try a yoga class on your lunch break or to commence and conclude your day. Yoga combines awareness of your breath with the movement of your body.

Some tips for beginners

Don’t strive for perfection
Be gentle with yourself! Your practice doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ every day. If you put this extra pressure on yourself, you’re adding stress rather than relieving it. Remove any expectation from your mindfulness practice and you’ll be surprised by the benefits you reap.

It will get easier
With practice, your meditation become easier. Your brain is a muscle and like any other muscle in the body, it needs to be exercised. As you continue to meditate regularly, you will begin to feel more relaxed and refreshed throughout and after your practice. Over time, you may even look forward to your meditation.

Slow and steady wins the race
It can be daunting going straight into a 20-30 minute guided meditation, especially if you are time-poor. Instead, try a 5-10 minute guided meditation to help set the tone of what a meditation practice looks like. Headspace offers a range of 5-10 minute meditations for you to choose from.

Remember everything takes time and practice. You might not get it the first time or the second, but there is a reason why meditation is so good for you and why there are thousands of research articles to support it. Drop in for a guided meditation or yoga class at our Perth CBD studio.