Vitality Revisited: The Evolving Concept of Flourishing and Its Relevance to Personal and Public Health

Alan C. Logan, Brian M. Berman, Susan L. Prescott

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Human flourishing, the state of optimal functioning and well-being across all aspects of an individual's life, has been a topic of philosophical and theological discussion for centuries. In the mid-20th century, social psychologists and health scientists began exploring the concept of flourishing in the context of health and high-level wellness. However, it is only in recent years, in part due to the USD 43 million Global Flourishing Study including 22 countries, that flourishing has entered the mainstream discourse. Here, we explore this history and the rapid acceleration of research into human flourishing, defined as "the relative attainment of a state in which all aspects of a person's life are good" by the Harvard University's Flourishing Program. We also explore the construct of "vitality", which refers to a sense of aliveness, energy, and motivation; we contend that this has been neglected in the flourishing movement. We explore why incorporating measures of vitality, together with a broader biopsychosocial approach, considers all dimensions of the environment across time (the total exposome), which will greatly advance research, policies, and actions to achieve human flourishing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5065
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2023

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