I’ve been spending a lot of time recently directing my energy into questions around the theme of FLOURISHING. What does it mean to flourish? Why should you even spend your time and energy thinking about such things when you have so much other stuff to do? What’s the opposite of flourishing? What does it take to flourish? The term ‘flourishing’ can be defined as ‘to experience a state of positive psychological, physical, emotional, social functioning and wellbeing most of the time’. Flourishing is also often shown at the upper end of the mental health spectrum. Random fun fact – the ancient greeks even had a word for the ‘state of human flourishing’ such was the emphasis they put on it. They called it EUDIAMONIA – if you want to impress people with your random knowledge – pull that word out the bag sometime in conversation. Let’s get serious though for a mo – we’ve got rather distracted from the vital importance of placing intention and attention on our own flourishing. We are in a world that pulls our attention this way and that. We are often overwhelmed – particularly in recent times with all that is going on in the world, and when we aren’t contemplating the uncertainty and complex problems being faced, we are rushing around this way and that, like a freight train through our lives trying to achieve things, be more, have more, do more. All this rushing and worrying and striving and doing is causing us to move further away from flourishing, bit by bit, towards what? Well the opposite, which is LANGUISHING. We get busy, we get tired, we get snappy, we get stressed, we unhappy and we get sick. We disconnect – from ourselves and from each other, until we are well and truly languishing and then maybe hit the wall and we don’t know how we got there. I get it, I’ve been there, it’s not pretty and it’s certainly not pleasant. It’s also a huge part of why I’m so passionate about the work I do now, because the truth is I see people languishing everywhere and this pandemic is fuelling the already rampant fire, but it’s not the only reason – it was there before, in this productivity obsessed, more more more, now now now, busy treadmill of a world. The trajectory from languishing is in no way something we want to experience – it’s mental and physical illness that pretty much brings us to a standstill that’s messy, painful and time consuming to unpick and heal. When I talk to people I work with around the importance of spending time on their emotional, physically and mental wellness, I often get the response of “I don’t have enough time”, or ‘I’ll do it when (insert your bespoke reason here) done or finished” or a belief that focusing on our individual flourishing is a selfish pursuit, maybe even the occasional eye roll. (Even if I don’t see the eye roll on the outside my spidey senses can pick up on the inner eye roll). STOP right there if that’s going on – spending time on your wellness and what it takes for you to flourish is not a nice to have it’s an essential for a life lived well!! Oh and I don’t mean just eating health and exercise – as much as that helps – it’s pointless if you aren’t looking into the diet, exercise and attention you are giving your mind. What is your mind consuming every day. What are you reading? What are watching or who are you following on your social media feed? Who are you surrounding yourself with? What are you telling yourself? Are you spending time with your inner critic or your inner compassionate friend (who recognises you are doing the best you can)? So – what does it take to flourish? The answer is it depends on you. Different people need different things to help them flourish. To give you some ideas and get you started I’m happy to share practices that enable me to flourish. Daily meditation – whether it’s 5mins or 45 mins I make it a daily ritual. Good sleep – and all the sleep hygiene that goes with that. Moving my body regularly – in way that I enjoy and gets my muscles and heart working. Creating space that has no agenda – I might read or walk or simply have a cup of tea, or stare out the window. This also means not taking too much on and learning to say no. Doing activities I enjoy – but also trying new things I’ve not done before because who knows I may well enjoy them too, I don’t know if I don’t give it a go. Being constantly curious and learning new things – staying curious and open is a superpower to keeping the mind healthy. Getting into nature regularly – It’s easy to forget in our frenetic paced, built up world, that us humans are in fact part of nature too. Few things beat a walk in the forest or swim in the ocean for me (yep even the sometimes shockingly refreshing waters of Wellington). Spending time with souls that fill my cup – my kids, my husband, my friends. People I can be with and feel it’s safe to just exhale and be me without judgement. Noticing and turning down the volume on my inner critic – I liken my inner critic voice over to a bad taste ‘Spotify’ playlist on repeat, but the thing is I can choose to change that playlist if I wish. The first step is to notice it, the second step is to find a better playlist / set of lyrics. Practicing self compassion – compassion to self is another super power and game changer but it really is a practice that may feel uncomfortable to begin but fits better over time. It’s hard to have the capacity to continually give compassion to others when you can’t bring it inwards. Daily gratitude and reflective journalling – this can often be seen as polly-anna stuff but savouring and being grateful for the good things in life, no matter how small helps recode our brain from un-needed catastrophising and favouring the negative. Eating food that nourishes the body and the soul – which also means not beating myself up when I fancy a piece of cake. Life is about balance in all things even balance. These are the rituals and practices I use to help me to flourish, and I’ve learned to protect and prioritise them like my life depends on it…BECAUSE IT DOES. So with that in mind I invite you to regularly reflect on where you are at on the flourishing v languishing spectrum? How are you feeling? Emotionally, physically and mentally? What do you notice is going on in your life when you flourish and also when you languish? What does flourishing look like for you, and what nourishing practices and activities can you put in your day to help you flourish. Remember that this might mean letting go of stuff that you have a white knuckle grip hold on but is clearly not serving you. Take the time to ask these questions to make a change that takes you towards when it takes to flourish in this life that is fleeting and precious.