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Fall Flourishing: Enhancing Quality of Life

Updated: Jan 14

-Teresa Jacobson, DBH, LPCC-S, NCC

October 24, 2022


Little Miami Bike Trail October, 2022, "Fall Flourishing"


Do you feel like life's circumstances have sent you spiraling into moments of chaos or thoughts of despair? So much of life is out of our hands, which is such a difficult reality.


Whether we are dealing with chronic illness, chronic pain, grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, or any other challenge, we can be overcome with tremendous distress and anguish. So why wait another moment to begin to find ways to improve the quality of our lives? This article will explore the domains of quality of life from a world overview, and then provide a practical guide from Positive Psychology's well-being construct to help you to become aware of ways to improve it.


It was not long ago that the focus on overall health in the world was for "eradication of disease and symptoms" (WHO, 1998). While disease eradication is vital, the humanistic and holistic approach to treatment and the focus on well-being has become equally important.


Pursuit of Quality of Life


The World Health Organization developed a full Quality of Life assessment released in 1998 to begin to emphasize "a state of physical, mental, and social well-being." Within it, the domains of quality of life assessed include:


(a) physical - level of pain and comfort, energy vs fatigue, sexual wellness, sleep and rest, sensory functions


(b) psychological - positive feelings, cognitive enhancement, self-esteem, body image and appearance, and emotions


(c) level of independence - mobility, activities of daily living, dependence on medicine and medical aids, use and dependence on other substances, communication, work capacity


(d) social relationships - personal relationships, social support, and activities as a provider or supporter


(e) environment - freedom, safety and security, home environment, work satisfaction, financial stability, health and social care, accessibility and quality, opportunities for learning, participation in recreation and leisure activities, physical environment (pollution/noise/traffic/climate), and transportation, and


(f) spirituality - religious and personal beliefs, as well as overall general health perceptions and quality of life


Though the Quality of Life assessment can discern the areas of an individual's life which contribute to poor quality of life or areas of need; quality of one's life is also very subjective. With a humanistic approach to an individual's well-being, an individual's needs and functioning has an opportunity to change from "needs" being met, to thriving.


Psychologist Martin Seligman has spent decades of researching developing Positive Psychology which encourages taking living and surviving to a new level with identifying "states of flourishing". The research of Keys and colleagues (2012) describes the Dimensions of Subjective Well-being as key to obtainment of the "states of flourishing".


Dimensions of Well-being


Positive affect - having good spirits, cheerfulness, peacefulness, and zest for life


Avowed personal quality of life - having life satisfaction or happiness


Self-acceptance - having a positive attitude toward oneself and one's past


Social-acceptance - acknowledging and accepting of differences and complexities in others, and positive regard


Personal growth - having insight into one's own potential, or exhibiting a sense of development, and being open to new and challenging experiences


Social actualization - believing in the potential and positive evolution of people, social groups, and society


Purpose in life - holding goals and beliefs that affirm a sense of direction in life; believing life has meaning

Social contribution - feeling that one’s life is valued and useful to society and others


Environmental mastery - managing complex environment and adapting one's environment or self to suit needs


Social coherence - being interested in society, and feeling society and culture are are meaningful


Autonomy - exhibiting self-direction guided by socially-accepted internal standards, and resisting unhealthy social pressures


Positive relations with others - having warm, satisfying, trusting personal relationships, while being capable of empathy and intimacy


Social integration - having a sense of belonging to a community and obtaining comfort and support from the community


Researchers have long been studying the keys to a life worth living. Positive Psychology is founded on the belief that people want more than an end to suffering. "Positive psychology is concerned not just with positive states like emotions but also with more enduring positive characteristics of the individual: talents, abilities, values, and strengths of character" (Keyes, Fredrickson & Park 2012).


It is SMART to Set A Goal


If you read through the list above and noticed areas that can be improved in your life, why not set a goal towards enhancing a dimension of well being and greatly improve your quality of yours? No one's life is flourishing at all times; we are all a work in progress--that is unless we don't work on ourselves at all.


If you haven't considered these dimensions of well-being before, perhaps you can consider unlocking your own potential by working on specific goal each week. Be sure to turn the action into an evidence-based approach such as a SMART goal, or one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.


For example, if an area of growth identified is self-acceptance, one might decide to create a goal that is related to understanding and appreciating oneself as a unique person. One way to embark on this is reflecting through mindfulness meditation, or using journaling to process emotions and thoughts.


By using the SMART goal format, one is more apt to succeed. An example here could be:

I will focus on reflecting about self acceptance and understanding myself more related to my past and my current self by journaling about the topic 3 evenings a week from 7-7:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 6 weeks.

"People want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play" (Positive Psychology Center, 2022). "We have the opportunity to create a science and a profession that not only heals psychological damage but also builds strengths to enable people to achieve the best things in life."


Every moment is an opportunity to live more fully and flourish. So why not start that journey now? Delving into the dimensions of well-being above can definitely help us adapt to the wondrous and sometimes daunting seasons of life.



 


Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio and Kentucky adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth/Video visits. A strength-based, person-centered multi-cultural counselor, with an existential philosophy, Teresa can be reached by emailing teresa@steppingtowardserenity.org, calling (513) 206-3026, or visiting https://www.steppingtowardserenity.org


 


References


Keyes, C.L.M., Fredrickson, B.L., and Park, N. (2012). Positive psychology and the quality of life.

Handbook of Social Indicators and Quality of Life Research, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-2421-1_5


Positive Psychology Center (2022). Mission. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from


University of California (2012). SMART goals: A how to guide. Retrieved from


World Health Organization (1998). WHOQOL user manual. Retrieved from




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