What Does It Mean To ‘Flourish’? 38,000 People Are Taking This Free Ivy League Course About Scientifically Living Your Best Life


After the year we’ve had, a conversation—or even an internal dialogue—that describes my state of being as “flourishing” feels heavy-handed and (at least personally) rather unrealistic. My jaded mindset is more often likely to scoff at the concept of flourishing. That is until I took a moment to actually think about the word itself.

Flourishing is more than just positive. It’s active. When plants flourish, they have transformed from a seed into something green, leafy, pleasant to look at—living their best life. When businesses flourish, they thrive, are successful, take the input of years of thought and hard work and output the success that could be and made it a reality. What about people? What does it mean and look like for a person to “flourish?” The University of Pennsylvania offers a chance to answer the seemingly nebulous question, and nearly 38,000 people have already enrolled online for free with Coursera.

In Foundations of Positive Psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, uses five courses, beginning April 27, and a special hands-on project to teach his lessons. Often referred to as the “Father of Positive Psychology,” Dr. Seligman teaches the science behind the concept itself as well as the applications of strategies and the implementation of tools help both individuals and organizations thrive.

Unlike Yale’s perennially popular ‘Science of Well-Being’ course, positive psychology—and the concept of flourishing, in particular—promises a more holistic perspective and approach to what it means to feel happy, fulfilled, and doing and being one’s best. According to Dr. Seligman, flourishing is the result of paying careful attention to building and maintaining the five aspects of the PERMA model—positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. This model and more is what the class will address to help you find fulfillment, accomplish meaningful goals, and connect with yourself and others on a deeper level, to truly flourish.

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