Here at Thriveworks, we believe that there’s so much more to life than merely surviving—that everybody can make extraordinary advances, or better yet, thrive. You can thrive in your career, relationships, and even in extracurriculars like exercise or art classes, despite setbacks or hiccups along the way. The key, according to recent research “Human Thriving” from the University of Portsmouth, is to simply foster a sense of development and positive feelings about your life.
To reach this conclusion, Dr. Daniel Brown, a sport and exercise scientist at the University of Portsmouth, drew from a plethora of research on what it takes for an individual to thrive. This included studies of kids and teens, studies of artists and sportspeople, as well as studies of employees and the elderly—collectively, the observations made in each allowed Brown to reach the first definitive conclusion on the subject.
“Thriving is a word most people would be glad to hear themselves described as, but which science hasn’t really managed to consistently classify and describe until now. It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something, and succeeding at mastering something. In the simplest terms, what underpins it is feeling good about life and yourself and being good at something,” Brown explained.
To simplify his formula, Brown put together two lists of components that may help one successfully thrive in life. List A includes: optimism, religion or spirituality, motivation, proactivity, an interest in learning, flexibility, adaptability, social competence, and self-esteem. List B includes: opportunity, employer/family/other support, challenges and difficulties are manageable, environment is calm, an individual is given a high degree of autonomy, and is trusted as competent. One need not meet all components to thrive, but a healthy combination of the aforementioned just might help, according to Brown.
Past research—such as the aforementioned studies that evaluated thriving at different stages of human life and in various contexts—has found that while thriving is certainly similar to prospering and growing, it stands alone in meaning and significance. Furthermore, thriving has been defined as vitality, learning, focus, mental toughness, or even a combination of various qualities such as these—but according to Brown, it encompasses even more than previously imagined.
Brown further explains the significance of his findings: “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. 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.”
University of Portsmouth (2017, September 8). Scientists Find the Secret to Thriving. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved September 8, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/thriving-feeling-good-7447/
Brown, D. J., Arnold, R., Fletcher, D., & Standage, M. (2018, September 7). Human Thriving. European Psychologist. Retrieved on January 3, 2017 from https://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/full/10.1027/1016-9040/a000294