Tools for flourishing
WELL-BEING is an important topic right now.
But what ACTUAL PRACTICAL ACTIONS can you take to fret less and flourish more?
Read on to find out ....
Learn how to boost your level of well-being month-by-month, step-by-step over the course of one year. Covering the core pillars of well-being from the PERMA-V model: Positivity, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement and Vitality - this book equips you with tools to make the most of your life and flourish.
Our FREE 30 Day Challenge gives you a 60-page workbook and daily e-mails containing quick daily actions. By the end of the challenge you'll have taken steps to maximise your positivity, minimise your negativity, get energised, pursue your purpose, improve relationships, achieve your goals and grow!
As author/ghostwriter of 19 books, certified Positive Psychology Practitioner and Well-being Ambassador, this is my space to observe and ruminate. I write about how to be less hard on yourself and more self-compassionate; how to shift your mindset and find your forte and how to worry less so you may flourish rather than languish.
If you find the challenge useful and wish to donate ... please click below
To help us to help more people
Two handy guides revealing how to flourish step-by-step, month-by-month
The Flourish Handbook
How To Achieve Happiness With Staying Power
The problem with any 'self-help' book is, it can be difficult to move from the written word to the DOING bit. One day, I thought to myself, “If only there was a book which literally equipped people with the tools they needed to boost their well-being, enjoy their life more, cope with adversity, get more done and reach their potential; a book packed with monthly tasks, to-do lists, a 100 flourishing activities checklist and an ULTIMATE FLOURISHING WEEKLY PLANNER into which stuff can be scheduled to enable flourishing on a daily basis, starting today!”
The Flourish Handbook is a compelling and easy-to-digest practical guide - a friendly handbook on how to flourish. Drawing on extensive research and my own methods of coping with adversity and tragedy, achieving dreams, and enjoying life, this is a workbook about much more than merely achieving happiness.
Learn how to:
Flourishing is about more than simply feeling good; it's about pursuing and experiencing a better life; it's about building and optimising well-being. Once you know which elements make up well-being and focus on those areas, rather than focusing merely on happiness alone, you can live a rich, enjoyable and meaningful life with a high level of sustained well-being. This handbook guides you through that process and takes you on an illuminating and rewarding journey where you will boost your well-being and appreciate your life more month by month over the course of one year.
"I had read about flourishing, and The Flourish Handbook, in Psychologies magazine, and it definitely struck a chord. When I suffered, apparently out of nowhere, an anxiety attack over Christmas, I bought the book - and instantly felt comforted. The chapter on sourcing engagement and enjoyment, positive thinking and stopping spirals of negativity could have been written for me. Reading your words in the bad moments has reminded me that I already have the tools to tackle them - and always have had. I know this will be a long-term shift in my life and I wanted to say a big big thank you for that," Rachel x
The Flourish Colouring Book
Art Therapy Mindfulness
Colouring-in gives you space to unwind and can alleviate anxiety.
Colouring is a useful tool in the mindfulness toolkit as it allows us to focus on the task at hand – shading one area and then the next – giving us the chance to take a therapeutic and meditative art break. Because, when you colour in, the creative part of the brain is activated, whilst the information-processing part reboots.
Notably, the number of colouring books made specifically for grown-ups has grown exponentially in the past 12 months, with many of the best-selling books on Amazon fitting into the adult colouring category.
Here at Flourish, we wanted to give you something extra; we wanted to provide a tool that, along with pages of beautiful illustrations to colour-in, provides helpful actions and easy strategies to enable you to flourish. And so, THE FLOURISH COLOURING BOOK was born.And it's available to buy now from Amazon.
Combined with inspirational quotes and encouraging affirmations, THE FLOURISH COLOURING BOOKis the ultimate colouring therapy book, because it features pages of actional tips on how to flourish from one month to the next (alongside the patterns, quotes and affirmations to colour-in).
Of course, colouring is not a cure for depression, but it is a therapeutic tool. Importantly creating art; actually making something yourself is even more powerful if you want to use art as 'therapy'. But, when it comes to colouring as therapy - colouring books really do seem to work wonders on enabling relaxation and providing a space to unplug and reboot; to unlock and enable your creativity to flow and relieve tension in the process.
Ultimately, by focusing on colouring-in we are directing attention away from negative emotions and worries and onto a creative and engaging activity. As engagement is a critical pillar of well-being, it's no surprise that colouring books are so popular.
Happy colouring x
MY STORY: Who Am I To Show You How To Flourish?
As a positive psychology practitioner, wellbeing author/ghostwriter and Ambassador of Wellbeing for the Network of Wellbeing, I provide people with evidence-based tools for self care, to help people flourish (so that they may worry/judge less, appreciate more and bounce back better).
I recently became the first person in the UK to qualify in CAPP (Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology) and my goal now is to equip young people with the tools and positive psychology interventions (PPIs) they need to cope with the increasing stress levels and anxiety of modern day life; to not just survive, but thrive. Because positive psychology is not just about repairing what's broken/mental illness, it's about building on what is good to generate mental wellness.
Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.
I run Flourish workshops, write books on well-being and recently founded the Positive Education Project to get positive psychology tools into the hands of teachers, parents and the children they teach and care for.
Loss, Resilience and Positivity: What I've Been Through and What It's Taught Me
My old 'about' page whittered on about how I'd written and ghostwritten x many books and interviewed popstars for a living – all the boring 'my credentials' stuff. But then I realised... you don't want to know about any of that show-offy achievement guff. It's part of what I've done and who I am (although I still find it hard to call myself an author... even 11 books in). You see, I had left out the vital part of the story – my WHY... and so here I shall share that with you (and also here on CherylRickman.co.uk - which explains EVERYTHING!)
Notably, why am I doing this flourishy stuff and what happened to me to make me wish to pursue this purpose with every fibre of my body?
Note: until recently I didn't like the idea of sharing my 'sob story' as it seemed like I was being weak and victim like... but now I understand that we should share our story with the world in order to connect with others and relate to (and possibly help) people. And so I have (even though it still makes me wince a little bit).
Here's what happened: People kept telling me how positive they thought I was, despite facing such adversity in my own life (having lost both of my parents).
I first heard that comment as an 18 year old when I had lost my mum. My darling mother, Denise, passed away when I was a mardy 17 year old and that was obviously excruciatingly heartbreakingly hard. Too awful to put into words to be honest. I went well and truly off the rails and yet I did somehow manage to retain my positivity. However, it was only a couple of years ago, that I began to reflect about this trait and how it linked to resilience. It sparked my interest in positive psychology (a relatively new type of psychology which has only been around for a decade). Previously, psychologists focused on alleviating human suffering, on getting people from depressed back up to base line, whereas positive psychology focuses on developing human flourishing – on getting people from base line to achieving a sustainable level of wellbeing - happiness with staying power.
I wondered why I was this way? I guessed it was hereditary as science has revealed that optimistic mums create optimists and 50% of our positivity is down to the genes. But half is down to us so it couldn't just be that. My inspirational mum who, despite suffering from a crippling disease, (multiple sclerosis) never complained and mostly smiled. She refused to be a victim of her situation, she always focused on the good stuff and she made the most of what she had.
I realised that was actually quite rare. As a nation, we're more stressed than we've ever been. Indeed, many people often tend to focus on what has gone wrong in the past rather than what has gone right; on what we lack rather than what we have. And we all are at least a little bit guilty of wanting or expecting more from time to time. And yet this is our one and only life. Surely we should do our best to make the most of every single moment, just like my mum?
My dad was the opposite. He found life hard. As a manic depressive he did tend to wallow and yet he still managed to smile, be an incredibly loving father and was known by those who knew him as a really nice chap. He struggled to cope with mum's disability and his own frustrations.
I only wish I'd known then what I know now.
I discovered the concept of flourishing and realised that, without knowing the science behind it, I had been putting the key pillars of well-being into place all my life and, consequently, seemed to be more resilient than the average bear.
Indeed, I was completely and utterly flourishing while I wrote The Flourish Handbook which I wrote because I wanted to help people to go from the 'reading' bit to the 'doing' bit (but more on that later). I felt blessed to have such a wonderful healthy family, be surrounded by amazing friends and felt happy as I walked my then-4-now-8 year old daughter to school each day. I loved Monday mornings as much as Fridays, cherished my job as a writer, working from home. I experienced positive emotions every day, felt engaged in a life that felt meaningful and I was gradually achieving my dreams. Just. Yay!
Yes I dearly missed my mum every single day, but, as I explain in the book, I felt grateful to have had HER – Denise Rickman - as my mum, albeit for less time than I would've liked. In fact, I wrote in the book about the importance of gratitude and how bad times can be enabling as much as they are heartbreaking (because the rough times help shape us, teach us, mould us into who we are.) I talked about the importance of supportive relationships and about how the pillars of well-being, particularly positive emotions, relationships, and meaningful purpose bolster our resilience. I was thrilled to have finished writing the book and couldn't wait to see it published. That was in May... and so I began to edit the book.
Yet, in the midst of editing the chapter on resilience, the unthinkable happened.
I got a phone call out of the blue to tell me that my dad had asbestos-related cancer, a particularly unforgiving form of the disease and that he had less than six months to live. Just one week later we realised the prognosis was a lot worse and he was given just a few weeks. In fact, just three weeks after diagnosis he was gone. We'd been through a lot together and now he was gone as well as my mum. It was devastating to lose him as well.
But somehow, through this shocking and surreal time I was able, thanks to the overwhelming support of my amazing mister, friends and the daily dose of sunshine provided by my daughter, able to cope somehow. I felt a strange kind of gratitude for knowing my dad's fate because it meant that we could tell each other all that needed to be told, spend time together, say goodbye. Of course, I would crumble into floods of tears each evening and still do now and again, but my connections with my support network prevented me from spiraling downward into that all-encompassing abyss of despair and that flow of goodwill and support gave me the fuel and resilience I needed to bounce back each day and visit my dad.
I wasn't merely tapping my own 'well of positivity' I was able to tap into the goodwill, generosity and kindness that was being given to me via the supportive relationships, those very relationships that I'd been in the midst of writing about, which form one of the pillars of well-being and a key step to flourishing.
My dad had quite a long time ago been a manic depressive, but he was starting to make the most of his life, working on cruise ships as a dance host. He had found his forte and was seeing the world. The fact that he had spent the last 7 years doing that after taking early retirement helped him to cope with this sorrowful news. And knowing that he was coping with dignity made me feel proud better able to deal with it myself.
The words I had written in The Flourish Handbook became POIGNANTLY RELEVANT and my sense of purpose, to do all I could to empower others to make the most of their one and only life, became all the more powerful and meaningful to me.
Today, three years after my father passed away, I am continuing to flourish.
I obviously have moments of deep sadness that losing both parents creates. I'm not a robot. Man! I long to pick up the phone to them and share my news. I wish my mum could've met her granddaughter and that my dad would be able to see her grow. But I don't dwell. My parents wouldn't want me to and I know it's a slippery slope to do so. So I go on daily gratitude walks, I see my friends, I do dance fitness and meditate. I work hard on my businesses while my daughter is at school or asleep, I cherish my role as a mum, I do all I can to spread the flourishing contagion, to remind people that they too shall be ok, they have so much to be grateful for still - AS DO I - that they can handle and accept the tough times, take the rough with the smooth; accept, learn and enjoy the journey.
For that I feel blessed. I know my parents would want me to continue to flourish and help other people to do so and make the most of their lives, so I shall do my best. The Flourish Handbook and other flourishy experiences enable that.
Essentially responding, reacting well to what life chucks at us (sometimes cruelly); relishing the moments we have, MAKING THE MOST OF IT! That's within our control.
The thing is we all worry. It's natural, especially as parents. It's easier also to react negatively to situations, and put ourselves down. We are hardwired with a negativity bias. And hardships are inevitable. It's how we respond to them that counts. We can despair and flounder or we can hope and bounce back. We shouldn't strive to eliminate negativity altogether, because we need it. Negativity is helpful and proper in the right instances. We need to mourn losses, fight injustices and that kind of appropriate negative emotion keeps us grounded, real and honest.
Worrying unnecessarily, being default negative, watching and repeating terrible stuff on the news, beating ourselves up...This we can stop or at least limit if we are properly equipped with tools and strategies to do so. Because, this is it. Right now.
Ultimately, losing my mum when she was 43 and my dad when he was 67 taught me that life is short. And that every single moment is precious; every moment. And so I am driven to help people to focus their energies on mastering their minds, which enables and empowers us to react differently, to respond better to circumstances and situations, to accept the darkness in order to see the light; to put worries to bed; to focus on what we have instead of what we don't have and to really make the most of every single moment of our incredibly bloody precious lives.
I want to spread a flourishing contagion, to help make the world a little less frowny and a lot more appreciative, positive and resilient. That is my mission. (You can sign up to the F.T. (Flourish Tonic) to discover ways to flourish here).
Sometimes things get in the way. I'm not skipping through life every single moment of every day. I have moments when i'm not 100%. Frankly ladies, PMT and flourishing do not go hand in hand. As I'm sure husbands will agree. PMT is not flourishing's friend! (Yep, they're thinking bloody psychos!) But that's all temporary.
Then there's the emotional contagion of other people to factor in, so you might be doing brilliantly and your other half might be worried or grumpy? Or your children might be playing right up and that can and do drag you right down.
There are lots of obstacles in your path to flourishing.
But what having the knowledge of how to flourish does is it empowers you to react better to respond to what life throws at you. To make that a more natural process.
Because, during my research for the book I discovered that the accumulation of positive reactions helps to bolster our resilience, which goes some way to explaining how I've coped with the loss I've faced.
Drawing on extensive research over the past year and my own methods of coping with adversity and staying positive, The Flourish Handbook is based on the pillars of well-being as coined by leading positive psychologists:
The problem is, it can be hard going from the reading bit to the doing bit. We often read a book and then carry on as normal. No changes made. So I wanted to write a really practical book, packed with exercises, tips, worksheets and to-do lists which would enable the reader to make actual changes as they progressed through the book; so that, by the end of the book/year, they would be flourishing, have found their forte, boosted their positivity and well-being, and bolstered their resilience, mindfulness and gratitude . So that's what I did.
And, by understanding and implementing the pillars of well-being into our lives, we can achieve that optimimum level of well-being and teach our children how to do the same. Imagine that? Imagine a generation which looked on the bright side, were more creative, more open and thus spotted more possibilities (because being open to more possibilities and solutions is a side effect of positivity and flourishing, as is good health and all sorts of other benefits). A kinder generation who made the most of every single moment?
Being positive and flourishing doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen to you ever again. It simply means you will be better able to cope with it when it does.
My parents' lives were short. This solemn fact is what spurred me on to this work of enabling and equipping others to make the most of their lives. So if I can somehow inspire just one person to make changes to make the most of each moment, who then inspires one other person and so on and so forth - Yippeee! That's meaningful and important to me.
While my mum had taught me to look on the bright side and focus on being grateful for what I had rather than what I didn't; my dad taught me that it's never too late to make living a priority.
I want people to rock being themselves - warts and all, to embrace life to the full and to flourish. To know that each obstacle and hardship, each bitter thought and negative battle are there to help prepare you for the bigger battles on your own heroes journey.
Positive psychology is not about ignoring what's wrong; it's about seeing life as it really is and making the most of it.
And so that's what I shall try to do.
Thank you for your interest and support.
Thoughts, musings, and observations about positive psychology interventions and other feel good stuff.
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