Measuring Flourishing

What is happening in the world? Are people's lives getting better or worse? How can we avoid the bias of mass-media and social media, and have a valid measure of well being and trends in the world?

Here is the World Happiness Report for you to read.

And it is pleasing to note that one of the authors, John Heliwell, is a Canadian!

John F. Helliwell, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia.


And beyond happiness lies flourishing and well-being, as explained by Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Flourish. You will see from the Amazon reviews of the book that it does have some flaws. However, on balance, it does contain valuable information, and is worth reading.

Summary of Well-Being Theory

Here then is well-being theory: well-being is a construct; and well-being, not happiness, is the topic of positive psychology. Well-being has five measurable elements (PERMA) that count toward it:

  • Positive emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects)
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it. Some aspects of these five elements are measured subjectively by self-report, and other aspects are measured objectively.

  Authentic Happiness Theory Well-Being Theory
Topic Happiness Well-Being
Measure Life satisfaction Positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment
Goal Increase life satisfaction Increase flourishing by increasing positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment


Social Engagement Solutions – Building Communities For Human Flourishing