Priest Reading from Bible on Church Altar
The science of wellbeing is young. It has been around for about three decades, only a short time in science-years. But the goal of this research is profound: to understand the best, most positive dimension of life. Scientists have learned a lot about how to help people who are suffering, which is good and important work.

But we scientists also wanted to offer insights about the positive sides of living. Wellbeing is about life at its best. It includes experiences like happiness, meaning, joy and inspiration. When I first began my studies of wellbeing nearly 20 years ago I joined a rapidly growing group of researchers interested in understanding the positive dimensions of human life.

My interest arose from my core life values: I believe in the intrinsic value of all people and I believe that human wellbeing is an intrinsic good. I believe human wellbeing is good in and of itself, not for what it can lead to (although it can lead to many good things), but because I believe all people should be able to flourish.

The Four Dimensions of Flourishing in Ministry

Wellbeing is made up of four major dimensions: 

  • Happiness: The emotional dynamics and the subjective quality of our daily lives.
  • Resilience: Our capacity to adapt, change, and respond to life’s challenges, and also our capacity to grow, learn, and to develop new capabilities and capacities.
  • Self-integrity: Our identity or self concept which includes the beliefs we hold about who we are as physical, psychological, intellectual, social, and moral/ spiritual beings; our self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth; and our sense of respect and dignity.
  • Thriving: The meaning and significance we experience in our lives; our sense of having values and beliefs that inspire us, create purpose, and provide moral guidance to our lives; experiencing deep and positive connections with others.

These dimensions are also referred to as the “building blocks of wellbeing” to emphasize that our wellbeing is an aggregate of all four dimensions. 

My team and I use the term flourishing to describe when someone is experiencing high levels of all four dimensions. We flourish when we experience happiness, resilience, self-integrity and thriving.

Click below for a richer description of each of these building blocks and to access the full research.