Life ‘shopping list’ shows what you need to thrive

A scientist has created a “shopping list” of the key ingredients needed for someone to thrive – rather than merely survive – in life.

Dr Daniel Brown, a sport and exercise scientist at the University of Portsmouth, has pulled together research on what makes people feel good about their life and about themselves from studies of babies and teenagers, to studies of artists, sportspeople, employees and the elderly.

He said: “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.

Thriving is the aim

“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.”

The study, published in European Psychologist, provides two “shopping lists” of components from which a person needs a combination of each.

The first suggests a person needs to be some of the following: optimistic, spiritual or religious, motivated, proactive, someone who enjoys learning, flexible, adaptable, socially competent and believes in self or has self-esteem.

support from others is key

The second list suggests that a person also needs to have some of the following: opportunity, employer/family/other support, challenges and difficulties are at manageable level, environment is calm, is given a high degree of autonomy and is trusted as competent.

Dr Brown added: “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.”

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