All it takes is some weekend channel surfing to see how society views improvement. Show after show illustrates a person in less than ideal circumstances. The entire purpose of the show is to bring these people to a new understanding about who they are and what they want. In many ways, it’s about addressing the problems in your life and making you better.
What is the problem? How can one fix it? Just like a torn ligament requires surgery for a complete fix, depression needs methods to repair the human psyche, and a worker should gain the tools and mentoring to increase productivity and efficiency in her places of deficit.
However, this focus in our society on the problem creates a tendency toward negativity. Even though we need doctors, psychiatrists, and MBAs, could there be a better way to approaching improvement?
The ideas of positive psychology and flourishing offer a thoughtful perspective. Positive psychology looks at the strengths of an individual, the virtues that let people thrive in vibrant communities. Instead of focusing on the bad things, positive psychology looks to expand these strengths to help people live meaningful lives.
This view comes from a classic model of ethics that looks at virtues. Virtue is all about character. It looks at the items that make up good character and suggests that those are the principles to live by. A good life, then, is one that is lived in concert with the societal-agreed virtues.
What could these virtues be? It could constitute many principles. But many of the strengths on which positive psychology focuses provide good starting points. Some big ones include: love, work, compassion, and creativity. How these traits emerge in life, both at home and in the workplace, become the foundation for a flourishing life.
The Current Duality
As mentioned above, the principles of flourishing exist in stark contrast to the current trends of culture. We live in a world where negativity reigns supreme, in a world where dualism is a dominant view.
Dualism, in simple terms, suggests a separation between the physical world and the theoretical world. While the world of the mind is perfect, the physical world is incredibly imperfect. Because the world is imperfect, we focus on the negative and try our best to improve ourselves as much as possible in those places where we lack.
This view in the business world creates difficulty for the individual. If work is imperfect, then negativity will be everywhere in the workplace.
Why Not Thrive?
But what if flourishing becomes the central tenet for organizations? What if a focus on virtues replaces a focus on dualism? It would mean looking at each individual and attempting to understand how to place everyone in a position to function optimally. And more importantly, a focus on flourishing benefits the organization and community at large.
Flourishing is a new mindset for the life of an individual. Why does it matter? Because a flourishing person contributes to a flourishing organization. A flourishing organization contributes to a flourishing community. A flourishing community creates a flourishing globe.
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