Evidence That It Works
Even though Aristotle proposed the markers of a “flourishing life” over 2,000 years ago, modern-day scholars do not agree on what it means to flourish as a human being.
The field of positive psychology has suggested using the PERMA model as a framework: Positive emotions, Engagement, positive Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement. Indeed, research on teaching skills related to these factors to students has shown positive results, such as an improvement in social skills and learning strengths (e.g., curiosity, love of learning, creativity).
However, Aristotelian ethics places virtue at the center of a flourishing and happy life. When considering individual virtues such as gratitude, generosity, and kindness, scientists have found that practicing these virtues does indeed increase both adults’ and children’s happiness and/or well-being.
Why Does It Matter?
Even though no exact definition of a flourishing life exists, just presenting students with the idea that they have agency in creating a life of meaning and happiness is powerful—especially as so many suffer from mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.
While schools may be hesitant about taking away time from academic content to teach students the skills that cultivate a flourishing life, the extraordinary popularity of university courses on happiness should be evidence enough of the tremendous need and desire for this guidance.