Thriving in life takes some simple steps

Every parent wants their son to thrive in life, to excel and achieve to the best of his abilities. One determined scientist believes he has come up with the answer to the age-old question of how to get there – simply feeling good about yourself and the life you are leading.

From a baby learning to crawl to a teenager studying for exams, thriving is part of life which can make a person feel proud, fulfilled and give life greater meaning.

University of Portsmouth sport and exercise scientist Daniel Brown has collated years of research about thriving across different age groups and cultures to determine key aspects linked to effectively thriving rather than just surviving life in general.

“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,” Dr Brown said.

“It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something and succeeding at mastering something,” he said.

“In the simplest terms, what underpins it is feeling good about life and yourself and being good at something.”

Dr Brown identified key aspects linked to thriving, saying people do not need all of the characteristics listed but rather a combination of some criteria from each list;

A person thriving is:

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

A person thriving has:

  • opportunity;
  • employer/family/other support;
  • challenges and difficulties which are at manageable levels;
  • a calm environment;
  • been given a high degree of autonomy;
  • been trusted as competent

Dr Brown said there had been a lack of consensus about thriving in past research because of the narrow focus of such studies, examining only certain age or social groups rather than using a broader approach.

“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… by setting out a clear definition, I hope this helps set a course for future research,” he said.

Dr Brown recommended future research in his findings, aimed at studying what enables thriving to occur and whether thriving has lasting/cumulative effects on individuals.

His research results were published in the European Psychologist Journal this month.