Strength-based tips to help you thrive and flourish

Apr 5, 2023 | Insights

You are more likely to succeed in moving from okay to flourishing by focusing on your strengths that help you cope with challenges.

Like many friends, I see our local acupuncturist each month. Tsering is fond of telling us that our health is the most important thing we should concentrate on, and she is, on the whole, correct. If our bodies don't function properly, we become limited in what we can do, and in more extreme cases, we become reliant on others and unable to make a difference to others.


Of course, we also visit our local medical practice when necessary. And here is the crux, if you want. We regularly go to our acupuncturist because her treatments are about helping us to flourish and to prevent us from becoming ill. However, visits to our local doctor are irregular and occur because something is wrong and needs fixing.


Prevent and flourish


However, my friends and I are probably the minority in focusing on prevention and flourishing rather than cures, especially regarding our emotional well-being. As a matter of fact, Seph Pennock, a Dutch psychologist specialising in positive psychology, looked at psychological abstracts published between 1967 and 2000 and found that papers addressing "negative" human emotions (anger, anxiety and depression) outnumbered papers dealing with "positive" emotions (joy, happiness, satisfaction) by about 21:1.


Indeed, calling emotions "negative" or "positive" is part of the problem. Not only is it possible to experience "negative" and "positive" feelings at the same time, but the idea that fixing "negative" emotions results in positive well-being is a significant misconception. It is perfectly possible to feel physically and emotionally "okay" but still not experience a sense of enhanced well-being.


Flourish through strength


In other words, the practices that can take you from surviving to coping are not the same as those that take you from coping to flourishing. Today, many psychologists argue that you are more likely to succeed in the second half of this journey by focusing on your strengths, especially those strengths that help you cope with difficult experiences and emotions.


Here are five strength-based tips for thriving and flourishing:


  1. First, recognise that many "negative" emotions are beneficial because they motivate you to move on, deal with complex issues or help you protect yourself and others, so look for the positives, tolerate them and deal with them.
  2. It is possible to simultaneously feel "negative" and "positive" emotions. Therefore, avoid categorising your feelings and dealing with specific emotions one at a time and instead focus on your overall well-being.
  3. Assess your strengths and develop them to help you overcome adversity and become more resilient. Tom Rath's Strengths Finder 2.0 book is an excellent place to start
  4. Take steps to nurture your strengths by using them frequently and adapting them to different situations.
  5. Focus on preventing problems from arising in the first place rather than trying to cure them when they do occur. Reflecting on how you handle situations will improve your self-awareness and ability to cope and thrive in difficult situations.

Photo attribution

Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash

Audio link

Other references:

Rath,Tom. Strengthsfinder 2.0. 2007. New York, Ny, Gallup Press, 2021.

Taking it further:

Read more about the benefits of positive psychology:

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The map in our patterns
The patterns of history repeat themselves, and provide a map for us to ride the troughs and peaks of life.

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