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  • Lenore Lambert

How fully are you flourishing?

If I was to ask you what it takes to flourish physically, you’d probably have a confident answer:  nutritious food, clean air and water, exercise, physical safety.

But if this question refers to our experience of life, there tends to be a silence, then a bunch of guesswork – definitely not the same level of confidence in the answers.

I believe this goes a long way to explaining why developed countries like Australia have mental health disorders topping the list of chronic health conditions. We don’t know what it takes to flourish!

We’re safer and more comfortable….and more miserable than ever before, with anxiety, depression and suicide on the rise across the developed world.

We blindly follow the signposts on billboards all around us pointing us in the direction of making more money and buying more stuff. But if this were the answer, then we’d see mental health improving as countries become more wealthy.

This is not what’s happening. Out of the 184 countries in the world, Australia is #10 on GDP per capita, and #143 on suicide. That is, we are just 41 positions away from the worst suicide rate in the world. (The US is even worse, it’s #6 on GDP and only 23 positions from the bottom of the suicide list.)

Being safe and comfortable is clearly not enough. Suicide is often called a death of despair. This clearly shows that physical and material resources don’t make for a fulfilling life. We need enough of them to feel that we can get by without stress. Safety is necessary, but it’s not sufficient for a flourishing life.

So what does contribute to a flourishing life?

Here it is a nutshell – you’ve seen it before in my emails, but I want to offer you the opportunity to apply it to your own life.

I’m going to give you a quick run-down, so click here to download a free self-assessment chart and then as we go through them, you can assess your life, as it is, right now on the Nine Elements.

You can then see what’s currently nourishing you (so you value it and keep doing it), and where to focus your efforts to flourish more fully in life. Simply choose your lowest score and start a project to lift it.



Material Security: we have enough money and resources to not be stressed about getting by. We feel physically safe. This is not about being rich or having everything we want, it’s about having enough that you feel secure in your day to day living.

Autonomy: we can make decisions about our own lives without coercion or punishment from others (often the threat of being ostracised, put down, or worse) . E.g. we can choose our occupation, our partner (including whether to have one), our living arrangements and our spiritual orientation (including whether to have one).

Ease with Uncertainty: we know and accept that there’s a lot of uncertainty in life and we’ve found our peace with that. We don’t reach for rigid, dogmatic, or black and white views of people or the world as a way to make the world feel ‘under control’.

Belonging: we feel like we belong to a group. We are known, we’re expected to participate and it’s noticed if we are absent. This may be family, friends, work, sport teams, interest groups, political groups, religious groups – any group where you know there’s a seat at the table reserved for you.



Pleasure: we experience and enjoy the pleasures life has to offer. This includes all of the pleasures of the senses, but also the mind. Learning new things can be a pleasure, play, intellectual stimulation, appreciating the arts, adventure and fun.

Engagement: we have at least one activity we engage in that puts us into flow. That is, we become so absorbed in the task that we lose track of time. It absorbs our entire attentional bandwidth. It’s often not until the end of the activity that we are aware of enjoying ourselves.

Achievement: we set ourselves specific goals, that require skill and effort, and we apply ourselves to achieve them. The goals can be in any realm (e.g. sport, work, home life) but they are clearly articulated such that it’s clear whether or not the goal is achieved.

Connection: we feel seen, known, understood, accepted and cared about by others. This is a more personal connection than we may feel in our ‘belonging’ groups (although we might feel connected with people there too).

Contribution: we devote our resources – time, energy, expertise, care, physical resources – to the wellbeing of others. This might be our work if we’re in a caring profession, or it might be voluntary contributions outside of work.


I want to make this list common knowledge. It’s absolutely crazy that we’re left floundering around, following signposts to happiness that take us down blind alleys, when as a species, we KNOW what makes us flourish!

Will you help me? Please forward this email to anyone you know who might be struggling or lost or stuck. We spend so much time, energy and headspace following signposts that are mis-directs. Let’s share this set of signposts so that people know where to direct their energy to flourish in their lives.

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