While wellbeing and flourishing are closely related, the key difference lies in the depth and dynamism of flourishing. Wellbeing can be seen as a necessary foundation for flourishing, but flourishing encompasses a broader, more active engagement with life and the realisation of human potential. Both concepts are integral to understanding human happiness and fulfilment from differing perspectives.
Wellbeing is generally understood as the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. It encompasses various dimensions including physical, mental and emotional health, as well as life satisfaction and a sense of meaning. Through the lens of the Flourish Model this includes the core human needs for security, relationship, independence, engagement, fulfilment, contribution and growth.
Flourishing is a step beyond wellbeing, representing a dynamic continuum of human vitality and functioning. It can be understood as well-being in action; it's not just feeling content or satisfied but also actively thriving, growing, and realizing innate potential. It often encompasses life decisions that involve the overcoming of difficulties or suffering, together with the acknowledgement that we are active and responsible participants in a dynamically interconnected world of both human and non-human others.
From a practical standpoint, wellbeing and flourishing can be differentiated by their application and measurement in daily life:
Wellbeing measures often focus on assessing subjective experiences of happiness, contentment, and health. Practical approaches to enhancing well-being might include activities or interventions aimed at improving physical and mental health, social connections, setting and achieving goals and overall life satisfaction.
Flourishing involves the optimisation of innate potential and the application of strengths and virtues towards achieving a fulfilling, meaningful and responsible life. It includes actively engaging in life, redefining life purpose, overcoming difficulties and seeking harmony and right relationship. Practical approaches to flourishing might involve humility, mindfulness, spiritual disciplines, compassion and actively contributing to the flourishing of others and the planet.