Activities for Flourishing: An Evidence-Based Guide

Abstract

The paper reviews various evidence-based activities that can be easily employed to promote human flourishing. The evidence from numerous randomized trials has now established a number of do-it-yourself activities that can be used to improve various aspects of well-being. Moreover, various relational and institutional commitments can be voluntarily pursued which likewise have been shown to have substantial effects on well-being. Each of these activities or commitments in some way involves an orientation to the good. The present paper reviews the nature of, and evidence for, various cognitive and behavioral activities and interventions, various relational and institutional commitments, and also various workbook interventions that have been shown to promote well-being. This is important for its own sake. It is also important in thinking about the tracking and measurement of well-being. Concerns are sometimes raised about the measurement of well-being that, if it is to be routinely assessed, then there is an accompanying responsibility to be able to offer support to those with low well-being measurements.  This present guide to flourishing activities helps, at least partially, to address concerns about being able to support those with lower well-being levels if well-being assessment were to become routine.

Keywords

Well-being, flourishing, intervention, gratitude, forgiveness, happiness

References

Allin, P. & Hand, D. J. (2017). New statistics for old? - measuring the wellbeing of the UK. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 180,1-22.

Anderson, L., Lewis, G., Araya, R., Elgie, R., Harrison, G., Proudfoot, J., Schmidt, U., Sharp, D., Weightman, A., & Williams, C. (2005). Self-help books for depression: how can practitioners and patients make the right choice? British Journal of General Practice, 55,387-392.

Anderson, N. D., Damianakis, T., Kröger, E., Wagner, L. M., Dawson, D. R., Binns, M. A., Bernstein, S., Caspi, E., Cook, S. L. & the BRAVO Team. (2014). The benefits associated with volunteering among seniors: a critical review and recommendations for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 140,1505-1533.

Aquinas, T. (1948). Summa Theologica. Complete English translation in five volumes. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press. (Original work published 1274). I.II.Q11,Q31.

Aristotle (1925). Aristotle The Nicomachean Ethics: Translated with an Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-283407-X. Translated: David Ross. Re-issued 1980, revised by J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson.

Bache, I., & Reardon, L. (2016). The Politics and Policy of Wellbeing. Edward Elgar Publishing. Cheltenham, UK.

Barlow, D. H. & Craske M. G. (2007). Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic. 4th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Boehm, J. K., Lyubomirsky, S., & Sheldon, K. M. (2011) A longitudinal experimental study comparing the effectiveness of happiness-enhancing strategies in Anglo Americans and Asian Americans. Cognition & Emotion, 25(7),1263-1272.

Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G. J., Riper, H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health. 13,119. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-119.

Burns, D. (1999). Feeling Good: The new mood therapy (Rev. ed.). New York: Avon.

Bryant, F. B. & Veroff, J. (2007): Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experiences. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Call, V., & Heaton, T. (1997). Religious influence on marital stability. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36,382-392.

Cai. T., Tian, L., Wong, P. H., & Wei, L. J. (2011). Analysis of randomized comparative clinical trial data for personalized treatment selections. Biostatistics, 12,270–282.

Carlbring, P., Westling, B. E., & Andersson, G. (2000). A review of published self-help books for panic disorder. Scandinavian Journal of Behaviour Therapy, 29,5-13.

Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Chancellor, J., Margolis, S., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2018) The propagation of everyday prosociality in the workplace. Journal of Positive Psychology, 13,271-283.

Clum, G. A. (1990). Coping With Panic: A Drug-Free Approach to Dealing With Anxiety, Attacks Brooks/Cole Publishing.

Chida, Y., Steptoe, A., & Powell, L. H. (2009). Religiosity/spirituality and mortality: A systematic quantitative review. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 78(2),81–90.

Cuijpers, P., Cristea, I. A., Karyotaki, E., Reijnders, M., & Huibers, M. J. (2016). How effective are cognitive behavior therapies for major depression and anxiety disorders? A meta-analytic update of the evidence. World Psychiatry, 15,245-258.

Curry, O. S., Rowland, L. A., Van Lissa, C. J., Zlotowitz, S., McAlaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76,320–9.

Davis, D. E., Choe, E., Meyers, J., Wade, N., Varjas, K., Gifford, A., Quinn, A., Hook, J. N., Van Tongeren, D.R., Griffin, B. J., & Worthington, E. L. (2016). Thankful for the little things: a meta-analysis of gratitude interventions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63,20-31.

Doss, B. D., Cicila, L. N., Georgia, E. J., Roddy, M. K., Nowlan, K. M., Benson, L. A., & Christensen, A. (2016). A randomized controlled trial of the web-based OurRelationship program: Effects on relationship and individual functioning. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 84:285-296.

Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2010). Cooperative behavior cascades in human social network. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107,5334-5338.

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84,377-389.

Frederick, D. E. & VanderWeele, T. J. (2018). A meta-analysis of the association of job-crafting and work engagement. Preprint available at: https://osf.io/2xtk3/. Techical Report.

Gruenewald, T. L., Tanner, E. K., Fried, L. P., Carlson, M. C., Xue, Q. L., Parisi, J. M., ... & Seeman, T. E. (2015). The Baltimore experience corps trial: enhancing generativity via intergenerational activity engagement in later life. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 71(4),661-670.

Halford, W. K. & Doss, B. D. (2016). New frontiers in the treatment of couples. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 9(2),124-139.

Harper, Q., Worthington, E. L., Griffin, B. J., Lavelock, C. R., Hook, J. N., Vrana, S. R., & Greer, C. L. (2014). Efficacy of a workbook to promote forgiveness: a randomized controlled trial with university students. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70,1158–1169.

Haug, T., Nordgreen, T., Öst, L. G., & Havik, O. E. (2012). Self-help treatment of anxiety disorders: A meta-analysis and meta-regression of effects and potential moderators. Clinical Psychology Review, 32,425-445.

Hecker, J. E., Loses, M. C., Fritzler, B. K., & Fink, C. M. (1996). Self-directed versus therapist-directed cognitive behavioral treatment for panic disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 10,253-265.

Hendriks, T., Schotanus-Dijkstra, M., Hassankhan, A., de Jong, J., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2019). The efficacy of multi-component positive psychology interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-34. Published Online 11 February 2019; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00082-1

Jarden, A., & Jarden, R. (2016). Positive psychological assessment for the workplace. In L Oades et al. (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Positive Psychology at Work, pp. 415-437. Published Online: 19 Nov 2016: DOI: 10.1002/9781118977620.ch22

Jordan, J. J., Rand, D. G., Arbesman, S., Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2013). Contagion of cooperation in static and fluid social networks. PLoS One, 8(6),e66199.

Kaplan, R. M. & Kronick, R. G. (2006). Marital Status and Longevity in the United States Population. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60,760-765.

Kerr, S. L., O’Donovan, A., & Pepping, C. A. (2015). Can gratitude and kindness interventions enhance well-being in a clinical sample? Journal of Happiness Studies, 16,17–36.

Keyes, C. L. (2002). The mental health continuum: from languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2),207-222.

King, L. A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27,798-807.

Koenig, H. G., King, D. E., & Carson, V. (2012). Handbook of Religion and Health (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Layous, K., Nelson, S. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). What is the optimal way to deliver a positive activity intervention? The case of writing about one's best possible selves. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14,635-654.

Li, S., Okereke, O. I., Chang, S.-C., Kawachi, I., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2016a). Religious service attendance and depression among women – a prospective cohort study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50,876-884.

Li, S., Stamfer, M., Williams, D. R. & VanderWeele, T. J. (2016b). Association between religious service attendance and mortality among women. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(6),777-785.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: the architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9,111-131.

Malouff, J. M. & Schutte, N. S. (2017). Can psychological interventions increase optimism? A meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(6),594-604.

Manzoli, L., Villari, P., Pirone, G. M., & Boccia, A. (2007). Marital Status and Mortality in the Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 64,77-94.

Marks, N. F. & Lambert, J. D. (1998). Marital status continuity and change among young and midlife adults longitudinal effects on psychological well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 19,652-686.

Martín-María, N., Miret, M., Caballero, F. F., Rico-Uribe, L. A., Steptoe, A., Chatterji, S., & Ayuso-Mateos, J. L. (2017). The impact of subjective well-being on mortality: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies in the general population. Psychosomatic Medicine, 79(5),565-575.

McKee-Ryan, F., Song, Z., Wanberg, C. R., & Kinicki, A. J. (2005) Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: A meta-analytic study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90,53–76.

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. (2010). Flourishing, Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing: How can they be increased?. Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/assets/Flourishing/Flourishing-and-Positive-Mental-Health-Dec-2010.pdf (Last Accessed: September 12, 2019)

Mooney, K. (2019). The next evolution of holistic well-being. Available at : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/next-evolution-holistic-well-being-kay-mooney (Last Accessed: September 12, 2019)

National Research Council (2013). Subjective Well-Being. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Okun, M. A., Yeung, E. W., & Brown, S. (2013). Volunteering by older adults and risk of mortality: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 28(2),564-577.

Ouweneel, E., Le Blanc, P. M., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2014). On being grateful and kind: results of two randomized controlled trials on study-related emotions and academic engagement. The Journal of Psychology, 148,37-60.

Paul, K. I., & Moser, K. (2009) Unemployment impairs mental health: Meta-analyses. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74,264–282.

Peters, M. L., Meevissen, Y. M. C., & Hanssen M. M. (2013). Specificity of the Best Possible Self intervention for increasing optimism: Comparison with a gratitude intervention. Terapia Psicológica, 31(1),93-100.

Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Character Strengths and Virtues. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pool, M. S., Agyemang, C. O., & Smalbrugge, M. (2017). Interventions to improve social determinants of health among elderly ethnic minority groups: a review. The European Journal of Public Health, 27,1048-1054

Post, S. G. (2017). Rx It's good to be good (G2BG) 2017 commentary: prescribing volunteerism for health, happiness, resilience, and longevity. American Journal of Health Promotion, 31,164-172.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57,1069–1081.

Schreier, H. M., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Chen, E. (2013). Effect of volunteering on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in adolescents: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA Pediatrics, 167(4),327-332.

Schueller, S. M.., Kashdan, T. B., & Parks, A. C., (2014). Synthesizing positive psychological interventions: Suggestions for conducting and interpreting meta-analyses. International Journal of Wellbeing, 4(1),91-98. doi:10.5502/ijw.v4i1.5

Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (2019). The impact of signature character strengths interventions: A meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(4),1179-1196.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60,410–421.

Sin, N. L. & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: a practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65(5),467-487.

Smith, J. L., Harrison, P. R., Kurtz, J. L., & Bryan, F. B. (2014). Nurturing the capacity to savor: interventions to enhance the enjoyment of positive experiences. In: A.C. Parks and S.M. Schueller (eds.). The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Positive Psychological Interventions. John Wiley and Sons: West Sussex, U.K. p. 42-65.

Su, R., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2014). The development and validation of the comprehensive inventory of thriving (CIT) and the brief inventory of thriving (BIT). Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 6,251–279.

Toussaint, L. L., Worthington, E. L., & Williams, D. R. (2015). Forgiveness and Health: Scientific Evidence and Theories Relating Forgiveness to Better Health. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

VanderWeele, T. J., Li, S., Tsai, A., & Kawachi, I. (2016a). Association between religious service attendance and lower suicide rates among US women. JAMA Psychiatry, 73,845-851.

VanderWeele, T. J., Yu, J., Cozier, Y.C., Wise, L., Argentieri, M. A., Rosenberg, L., Palmer, J. R., & Shields, A. E. (2017). Religious service attendance, prayer, religious coping, and religious-spiritual identity as predictors of all-cause mortality in the Black Women’s Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 185,515-522.

VanderWeele, T. J. (2017a). On the promotion of human flourishing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 31,8148-8156.

VanderWeele, T. J. (2017b). Religious communities and human flourishing. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26,476-481.

VanderWeele, T. J. (2017c). Religion and health: a synthesis. In: Balboni, M.J. and Peteet, J.R. (eds.). Spirituality and Religion within the Culture of Medicine: From Evidence to Practice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p 357-401.

VanderWeele, T. J. (2018). Is forgiveness a public health issue? American Journal of Public Health, 108,189-190.

VanderWeele, T. J., McNeely, E., & Koh, H. K. (2019a). Reimagining health – flourishing. JAMA, 321,1667-1668.

VanderWeele, T. J., Luedtke A. R., van der Laan, M. J., & Kessler, R. C. (2019b). Selecting optimal subgroups for treatment using many covariates. Epidemiology, 30,334-341.

VanderWeele, T. J., Mathur, M. B., & Chen, Y. (2019c). Media portrayals and public health implications for suicide and other behaviors. JAMA Psychiatry, Published online May 29, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0842.

Wade, N. G., Hoyt, W. T., Kidwell, J. E., & Worthington E. L. (2014). Efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions to promote forgiveness: a meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82,154-170.

Waite, L. J. & Gallagher, M. (2000). The Case for Marriage. New York: Doubleday.

Westminster. (2014). Westminster Shorter Catechism. Radford, VA: SMK books. (Original work published 1647).

Węziak-Białowolska, D., Koosed, T., Leon, C., & McNeely, E. (2018). A new approach to the well-being of factory workers in global supply chains: Evidence from apparel factories in Mexico, Sri Lanka, China and Cambodia. In Measuring the Impacts of Business on Well-Being and Sustainability (pp. 130–154). Paris: OECD and HEC Paris/SnO centre.

Wilcox, W. B. (2011). Why Marriage Matters: 30 Conclusions from the Social Sciences. 3rd Edition. New York: Institute for American Values/National Marriage Project.

Wilcox, W. B., & Wolfinger, N. H. (2016). Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wilson, C. M., & Oswald, A. J. (2005). How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence. IZA Bonn Discussion Paper No. 1619. The Institute for the Study of Labor.

Wood, R. G., Goesling, B., & Avellar, S. (2007). The Effects of Marriage on Health: A Synthesis of Recent Research Evidence. Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

Wood, A. M., & Joseph, S. (2010). The absence of positive psychological (eudemonic) well-being as a risk factor for depression: A ten year cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 122(3),213-217.

Wrzesniewski, A. & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26,179-201.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2019 Array

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.