The secret to thriving

Confidence

Scientists says they found the secret to thriving.

What does thriving mean. How do people thrive? I understand how plants can thrive but how does thriving apply to people?

The dictionary says, to prosper, to flourish. In Tagalog, we have umunlad o lumago. This probably means we are growing happily and not just growing or merely surviving.

In a research at the University of Portsmouth, Dr Daniel Brown, a sport and exercise scientist says that thriving can be seen simply as feeling good about yourself, and feeling accomplished at something.

You may be a housewife preparing something delicious for your family, or a kid feeling successful at a recent exam,  thriving can be seen across different cultures and across all ages.

While there were a lot of theories, pop psych, and assumptions, until this research, there’s no official agreement on how people thrive or how institutions can help to make sure they do.

The study outlines the ‘shopping list’ underlying Dr Brown’s simple definition. To thrive doesn’t need all the components, but suggests a combination of some from each of the two following lists may help –

A: Is:

  • optimistic,
  • spiritual or religious,
  • motivated,
  • proactive,
  • someone who enjoys learning,
  • flexible,
  • adaptable,
  • socially competent,
  • believes in self/has self-esteem.

B: Has:

  • opportunity,
  • employer/family/other support,
  • challenges and difficulties are at manageable level,
  • environment is calm,
  • is given a high degree of autonomy,
  • is trusted as competent.

Research has established that though thriving is similar to resilience, prospering or growth, it stands alone.

Thriving has been examined at various stages of human life and has at times been described as vitality, learning, mental toughness, focus, or combinations of these and other qualities. It has also been examined in various contexts, including in the military, in health and in child development.

“Since the end of the 20th century, there has been a quest in science to better understand human fulfilment and thriving, there’s been a shift towards wanting to understand how humans can function as highly as possible,” said Dr Brown.

“Part of the reason for a lack of consensus is the research so far has been narrowly focused. Some have studied what makes babies thrive, others have examined what makes some employees thrive and others not, and so on. By setting out a clear definition, I hope this helps set a course for future research.”

Dr Brown’s research makes six recommendations for future research, including the need for close examination of what enables thriving, and whether thriving has any lasting or cumulative effect on individuals.

He carried out the research as part of his PhD studies at the University of Bath. His primary supervisor, Dr Rachel Arnold, an expert in the psychology of performance excellence, is a co-author of the paper.

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