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How Do “Flourishers” Flourish?

A flourishing person is someone who experiences positive emotions, excels in daily life, and is a contributing and productive member of society.

In other words, they consistently feel good and do good.

Some people just seem to be full of energy, positivity and have optimal mental health.

So, what leads someone to flourish and thrive mentally, emotionally and physically? Is there something fundamentally different about them?

According to recent research by Barbara Fredrickson, “flourishers” displayed more positive emotional reactivity to pleasant events compared to non-flourishers or depressed individuals.

Fredrickson is known for the broaden-and-build theory, which posits that “recurrent experiences with positive emotions ultimately “build” a variety of beneficial personal resources.”

The current research supports this notion and revealed that “flourishers” experience bigger “boosts” of positive emotions when experiencing pleasant and enjoyable events, which further enhances cognitive resources such as mindfulness.

The article shares six pleasant activities that can boost positive emotions. The “flourishers” experienced higher levels of positive emotions during these activities.

You may not be emotionally flourishing at this time, but begin to incorporate these into your life and work to savor and be open to the positive experience that comes along.


Helping others has been shown to boost positive emotions. Sharing, donating, volunteering and random acts of kindness are all behaviors that benefit others, while at the same time making the helper feel more positive.

Interacting with others

Having relationships and social support is crucial for mental health. When feeling down, a great way to improve mood is to interact and communicate with others. Overall, getting acquainted and socially connecting with others can enhance positive emotions.

Playing and amusement

Playing comes from engaging in activities that are intrinsically rewarding as well as those that are amusing and entertaining. Find activities that make you laugh and where you can fool around and have fun. These may be games, sports, or other recreational activities.

Learning and curiosity

Learning new things can be inspiring and ignite our sense of interest and curiosity. Being curious and seeking out new and exciting information can increases positive emotions and enhance life-satisfaction.

Spiritual activity

This can encompass behavior such praying, worshiping, and mediating –  just to name a few. In particular, loving-kindness mediation has been shown to increase positive emotions and is likely related to the capability of mindfulness. Spiritual activity helps us coordinate more positive thoughts and beliefs, as well as offering a sense of purpose and meaning.


Exercise is a staple intervention to develop overall health and well-being. Being active and engaging in some form of aerobic exercise daily enhances positive emotions. Develop your routine to fit in some aerobic activity. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or simply go for a brisk walk.

As you go through your day, work to observe and be aware of your emotional reactions to different situations and experiences. Determine what activities, people, and places elicit the greatest positivity for you, and incorporate more of this into your life.

Photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto


Catalino, L. I., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2011). A Tuesday in the Life of a Flourisher: The Role of Positive Emotional Reactivity in Optimal Mental Health. Emotion, 11 (4), 938-950.

How Do “Flourishers” Flourish?

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). How Do “Flourishers” Flourish?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Oct 2011
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