Book review: Flourish

Emma de Vita reviews the latest book by American psychologist Martin EP Seligman

Off the shelf
Off the shelf

A decade ago, no hard-headed manager gave a second thought to the notion of making their underlings happy. Work wasn't mean to be enjoyable - it was something you endured. Then, in 2002, the American psychologist Martin EP Seligman published Authentic Happiness - and everything changed. These days, staff wellbeing matters, and it's your job as a manager to make sure they stay smiling.

But things have moved on in the sphere of positive psychology, as the science is termed. It's not enough to be happy - you have to flourish. This means feeling a strong sense of wellbeing. According to Seligman's latest book, wellbeing theory has five elements: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment (perma for short). It's a tall order, but there are things you can do to help your employees get there.

First, examine your own behaviour. If you're an optimist, your positivity will rub off your team. This might, in turn, lead to them feeling more engaged in their work and therefore more fulfilled. And if they feel happier generally, then they'll be nicer to be around, so the positive relationships box can be ticked. Just bear that in mind on a gloomy Monday morning.

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