1 Introduction

Our lifestyle has changed throughout the last decades. Globalization has impacted many aspects of our lives, leading, for example, to an increase in the number of hours we spend working, as many people collaborate from different countries and time zones. Another change is connectivity. Though it has helped us in many ways, it has also made us dependent on the instantaneity of communications. While these are only a few of the changes we’ve seen in more recent years, they are changes which, in general, have impacted not only our private lives, but also how we work. In addition to these changes, we should also consider the impact of Covid-19. The pandemic has forced us to change how we work, live, and travel, among many other aspects of our lives. No one is indifferent to its effects. All of these changes are present across different cultures, age groups, etc. Therefore, it is especially relevant that we understand how we can live happy lives in this tumultuous and changing context. Or, in other words, how can we promote flourishing within our families, organizations, and societies to foster our wellbeing?

We could attempt to answer these questions from different fields of study and by examining a range of theories, but it would give us an incomplete answer. Rather, in this book we combine research from academics across several disciplines to understand how to move forward towards a healthier and more sustainable society specifically through flourishing. We hope that after reading the previous chapters, you have a deeper knowledge of this concept.

In this last chapter, we are going to lay out and examine the main findings. Doing so will help us to implement and promote flourishing within our families, organizations, societies, and personal lives. Oftentimes, the ever-increasing rhythm of our lives hinders the opportunity to be conscious of the time and energy we are exerting, and if they are aligned with our purpose.

Throughout the previous chapters of this book, the concept of flourishing has been examined in detail. In doing so, we offer information which is oftentimes scattered across different disciplines and countries. Academics also tend to work in silos, and thus an important contribution of this book is that it gathers different academics’ research, offering an interdisciplinary work, where we combine relevant content from the realms of art, medicine, psychology, and business.

One of the main learning points of the book is the light it sheds on the relationship that exists between wellbeing and flourishing. Also, we have learned that flourishing has an impact and is influenced by health, art, entrepreneurship, and work life, among other factors. The different chapters provide information and evidence about how flourishing affects our day-to-day life from different points of view, and how we can promote it.

As an ever-changing society, it is important to move forward and be aware that if we only focus on maximizing certain aspects of our lives, organizations, and societies, it may be harder to find sustainable solutions. What’s more, if we approach problems from just one discipline, any solutions found run the risk of being incomplete. Consequently, works such as this one are important to highlight the relevance of interdisciplinary research.

The chapter is divided into two parts. The former organizes what we have explored throughout this book into three dimensions. The latter part proposes actions to move forward and suggests studies that could be carried out to continue understanding human flourishing.

2 Learning from This Book

Although human flourishing is a novel concept, it is related to the state of wellbeing and valued across cultures (Pawelski, 2021). It has many benefits, as we have seen, and in this last chapter we are going to group them into three dimensions: interconnection with the self, interconnection with others, and interconnection with the environment.

One of the main consequences of human flourishing is its impact on health. Frequently, as explained in chapter “Health and Flourishing: An Interdisciplinary Synthesis”, health is seen as the absence of diseases or pain. But if we focus not only on reducing pain, but also on improving wellbeing and life, we can foster actions that promote human flourishing and aim to generate positive outcomes in different areas of life. Related to this positive approach to health, we can understand it within a wellbeing ecosystem, where we can promote flourishing from different angles, like within our personal lives, our relationships, and our contexts.

If we are to continue looking for the loftiest feats achievable through human actions, as Ryff explained in Chapter “In Pursuit of Eudaimonia: Past Advances and Future Directions”, we should strive throughout our lives to promote the best version of ourselves from within. There is evidence that a person can try to do so on their own. But even if a person dedicates significant time to their personal growth, we do not live like islands, isolated from others. Rather, we live in society and are interconnected and influenced, and impact one another. Nonetheless, despite forming part of a society, we each are part of a specific context. For example, living in a city is very different than living in a town. Also, living in a developing country is very different from living in a developed one, etc. All these differences also impact our flourishing.

We can summarize this reality by stating that our flourishing is influenced by the ecosystem in which we find ourselves. Therefore, we should try to understand this ecosystem as much as we can and comprehend how we can expand its positive impacts. In doing so, we can contribute to important progress in the knowledge on human flourishing.

To categorize the learnings presented in this book about the interconnections within the ecosystems of human flourishing, we propose three sections. The first ecosystem is that of the interconnection with oneself, that is, how each person can influence their own flourishing. The second one pertains to the interconnection with others, i.e., how we influence each other, and how we can promote flourishing in families, organizations, and societies. Finally, the third realm is our interconnection with our context, that is, our surroundings, like the room or the city where we live, or the moment in history that we are living in, affects the human flourishing of a person or a society.

3 Interconnection with the Self

How we see ourselves is extremely relevant to promote flourishing. The construction of this image and how it impacts our self-esteem is affected by how we interpret and perceive different stimuli or experiences. These perceptions are unique to each person. Our perception of ourselves affects how we approach our daily lives and how we make decisions. It can also have an impact on our health and our relationships and how we relate to the environment.

Our interpretations are influenced by different factors. One of these factors, personality traits, is explored by Waugh in chapter “An Affective Neuroscience Perspective on Psychological Flourishing; How the Brain Believes that Things are Going Well”. These traits are correlated with our wellbeing. He describes personality traits as trait-relevant behaviors and proposes that there may be areas of the brain which influence a person to believe that he/she is flourishing. This implies that there are multiple ways to flourish, and that this interpretation is very important. The brain may believe itself to be flourishing in its positive interpretation of life events. How we evaluate these events is related to our life circumstances, whether, for example, we have had people in our lives that haven taken care of us, how we see ourselves, etc.

Having a purpose in one’s life also affects the brain’s interpretation of different events. We can understand purpose as “the feeling that there is meaning in one’s present and past life” (p. 707) (Ryff & Singer, 1998). Alternatively, “purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self” (p. 121) (Damon et al., 2003). Purpose therefore serves as a compass in our lives and helps us make choices and take one path over another. The personal evaluation of those decisions has consequences for our personal flourishing. This impact purpose plays is crucial, as it not only affects our wellbeing but also our health. Higher wellbeing, like personal growth, positive relationships, and purpose in life, among others, is related to different positive health indicators, as presented in chapter “Health and Flourishing: An Interdisciplinary Synthesis” written by Lee and Mayor. Therefore, our flourishing is dependent on having a positive view of our purpose in life and our capacity to materialize that purpose.

Emotions are another aspect that influence one’s self and one’s relationship with flourishing. People’s emotions affect their environment, as they are spread to others. Consider happiness. If we are happy, we can spread our happiness and help make those around us happy. This interconnection between people’s feelings exists with positive and negative emotions alike. We have also learned that being aware of this relationship is important, as how we feel is related to our health. When we understand the interconnection between our emotions and flourishing, we learn about our emotions, understand them, identify them, and differentiate them, which not only affects our feelings and health, but also the feelings and health of others.

If we deepen this effect of emotions, we can understand the changes that happen with a person that is going through intense suffering or loss. In Lee and Mayor’s chapter, they explain that when someone experiences an intense emotion, the way it is experienced can transform the person and even have the effect of “changing the way they see the world.” These experiences with intense emotions can also change our purpose and whether we perceive that we are flourishing or not.

In another interesting chapter, Lee and Contreras (chapter “Flourishing with Moral Emotions Through Conversational Agent”) explore how artificial agents can be used to bolster moral emotions like compassion, which is linked to human flourishing. According to the authors, two critical components for flourishing have been overlooked: the promotion of moral emotions, and the use of conversation agents (like chatbots) to increase such emotions. This chapter reviews different chatbots, like Vincent, that have been created for fostering compassion, self-compassion, and gratitude.

Some of these emotions can be understood in more depth in Rodríguez-Prat and Monforte-Royo’s chapter on palliative care. The authors explain that how we perceive suffering is important, as it influences our flourishing. More specifically, how we perceive and relate to death affects us. Chapter “Human Flourishing Until the End: The Core Values of Palliative Care” explains that if we reduce human beings only to their productive capacity and utility, the final stage of a person’s life can be perceived as a burden, versus simply another normal stage in life. How do we treat others when they are in pain? This is an important thing to learn from this book, as it explains the interconnection between people in our society, but specifically, in this section, how we feel about ourselves. Do we consider ourselves a burden? Or are we relieved that we have others that can care for us? This will not only affect our self-esteem, but also our health. Having a safety net has important consequences for our mental and physical health.

Although not all positive evaluations are related to flourishing, flourishing requires a positive evaluation of one’s life. As Waugh states at the end of his chapter, a good life depends on how the brain believes a life is good. Furthermore, how we see others and whether we forgive them, support them, or take care of them will also influence our (and their) flourishing.

In this line, Toussaint and his colleagues examine the connections between forgiveness and human flourishing in chapter “Forgiveness in Human Flourishing”. According to the authors, we should consider forgiveness as a character virtue. At the same time, their model conceptualizes forgiveness, which is always experienced internally, as a possible contributor to flourish in at least three dimensions: mental health, physical health, and happiness.

4 Interconnection with Others

Although the previous section focused on the interconnection with the self, it shows that people do not live isolated, like islands, but rather in societies and communities, where they interact with each other regularly. The relationship we build with others is also important to promote flourishing in ourselves.

How we consider and see others impacts the relationship we build with them. Rodríguez-Prat and Monforte-Royo use an example to reflect this reality. They show that how a person see a sick person has an important impact on their outcome. It also affects the perceived dignity of the patient. In their chapter, they are very specific in outlining the impact on human flourishing depending on whether a sick person is treated as an object or as person. This differentiation is also explained in the chapter by Balda, where he describes Balenciana’s life and creativity. How this artist saw his clients had an important impact on his work. As Balda explains in chapter “Balenciaga and the Importance of Creativity in Human Flourishing”, Balenciaga wanted to exalt the person in their entirety, and not just their bodies. In doing so, he made his clients happier. How he saw their clients impacted their emotions, and as reviewed above, this has an impact on human flourishing.

In a similar vein, Grau-Grau examines the relationship between quality ties and human flourishing in chapter “Fatherhood Involvement as a Source of Human Flourishing”. More specifically, he argued that fatherhood involvement, throughout the generation of paternal generativity and relational flourishing, contributes to human flourishing. It is necessary to put more efforts in measuring the quality of our relationships, which seems to be one of the clearest predictors of our life satisfaction.

Understanding that we have an impact on others, and that likewise they impact us, helps build the ecosystem that we have been examining throughout the book and in this chapter. Therefore, it is pertinent to understand which variables help this ecosystem and which ones worsen it. One of the variables that has a positive impact is kindness. The kindness shown by one person to another not only impacts their dyad relationship but also their support network, and consequently, this has an impact on flourishing. When we have stronger support networks, we know that we are not alone. Knowing that other people care about us is very important throughout the different stages of life. In the beginning, babies are not capable of surviving alone; they need others to help them. As described in this book, as we get older our wellbeing declines. One of the aspects that produces this negative effect on wellbeing is that many institutions have not adapted to our longer life expectancy. We can counter that, considering that positive relationships at work and with families and friends have a positive impact on wellbeing.

It is important to highlight the interaction between different dimensions in our lives and how they impact on one another. We saw in this book that work-life balance also influences our flourishing. Greater involvement in different roles promotes higher wellbeing; more specifically, parenting enhances adult wellbeing, as Barraza, Las Heras, and Rofcanin explain in chapter “Work, Family and Human Flourishing”. This relationship is positive when work and family are well integrated. Therefore, in organizations it is important to facilitate this integration. We saw in depth that this interconnection is so strong that there is a positive spillover between work and family. Aware of this positive relationship between these two realms, we should foster it in organizations, as the outcomes benefit employees, their families, and the organizations themselves.

Social ties are play an important role in the work-life balance equation. We need other people. As explained in the book, people with fewer social ties face more threats to their physical health. When we have a better work-life balance, we can develop better social ties with our colleagues and family, as we spend more time with them. Developing these ties is so important that it even affects our health.

The positive and negative spillovers that exist between the members of an environment are reciprocal. Promoting a positive social exchange among members can induce greater flourishing for the entire community. For example, what is healthy for the individual is also healthy for the ecosystem, as Lee and Mayor note.

5 Interconnection with the Environment

The interconnection with the environment is another very important aspect of flourishing. People are related to one another, but they are also affected by the environment in which they live.

When we talk about the environment, we usually highlight the natural aspect of it. We all live on the same planet and our actions can have an impact on the earth. This is also related to flourishing. The number of people living on earth affects how much food we produce, and how much we contaminate it. But actions like changing people’s diets can have an impact on the environment too. Being aware of the impact that our behaviors and traditions have on the earth can foster new ways of doing things.

The term “environment” goes beyond ecological conditions; it includes sociological ones as well. For example, social inequality also has an impact on flourishing. As explained in the book, higher income groups have better indicators on objective and subjective measures. Additionally, this also has an impact on the opportunities that people have to achieve their potential. Leveling the playing field when it comes to inequalities helps societies develop the talents of its members. Promoting art, for example, is one way to offset any worsening inequality, as it has a positive impact not only on our health but also on our wellbeing.

Art has been present throughout most of humankind’s history. It can take different forms, such as painting, sculpture, furniture, and clothing. Art’s impact can be limited or broad-reaching. For example, we saw that Balenciana not only impacted his clients, but also the fashions of his time. An even broader impact was seen by architect Antoni Gaudí. As explained in chapter “Antoni Gaudí in Human Flourishing”, he impacted both his clients and the entire city of Barcelona. Likewise, the people who worked with him understood that when you love what you do, you can do amazing things. Both artists are examples of individuals who were deeply connected and involved with their work, and both immensely enjoyed their work.

Another impact on flourishing revealed in this book is how history can change how we perceive an event and how these perceptions can change through time. For example, we saw in Pérez-Martinez’s chapter how traveling has evolved over time. From being done strictly on a military exploration basis to what is largely seen as a wellbeing experience today, traveling has changed tremendously throughout the years. Changes in the environment, such as the incorporation of modern transportation, have given us the opportunity to be able to travel to every corner of the world. Nonetheless, wellbeing linked to traveling is not only dependent on moving from one place to another, as we can flourish through literature and by “traveling” through books. Novels, traveling books, etc. can take us to different corners of the world and stimulate our wellbeing and flourishing.

Being aware of how the environment can affect our flourishing encourages us to consider it when creating public policies and developing our cities, towns, and countries.

6 A Roadmap Towards Flourishing

In recent years, we have seen how the world and our way of living can change dramatically from one day to another. Therefore, being concious of the fact that we are partically responsible of our own flourishing is important in order to promote a higher level of wellbeing. Also, we cannot deny the interconnection between ourselves and the people around us, especially with those that are close to us such as our families, colleagues, and neighbors. Or the impact the environment has on us, and vice versa.

We need to also consider the role of governments and institutions in order to foster a change. For example, Strong in Chapter “Human Flourishing Through Behavior Change” highlights that a forgotten part of flourishing is that of enacting change. Normally, we think about human flourishing as a state of being, or a place of which we have arrived or need to arrive. According to him, the act of change itself needs to be seen as a core facet of what it means to flourish.

In the same vein, Aknin in chapter “Revising Policy to Reflect Our Better Nature” outlines that the ultimate purpose of a government should be to help people to thrive, and not merely survive. Not only alleviating tensions and stress, but also amplifying positive experiences. Two of her suggestions for revising policies are allowing and enticing desirable behavior through opportunities for social connection, and offering prosocial rewards, such as the funds or time to help a personally meaningful cause.

One interesting thing we have learned from this interdisciplinary book is the concept of an ecosystem. We all are interconnected and influence each other. Therefore, promoting flourishing and wellbeing not only depends on ourselves, but on the relationships we build with others and the environment. Understanding this interconnection allows us to make changes in society, organizations, and families, as we can foster flourishing among all respective members. Flourishing, as we have seen throughout this book, has a positive impact on our health, particularly our mental health and self-esteem, which is fundamental in a post-pandemic era.

Additionally, knowing that loving what we do can impact our own and others’ flourishing, as in the cases of Balenciaga and Gaudí, should grab our attention. Specifically, it can help to improve the quality of our work. Dedication and not fearing mistakes are important aspects that we should promote in our jobs. Imagine all of the flourishing that we could foster by investing time in people’s self-confidence and helping them discover what they love to do. The impact would be considerable. This work could be carried out within schools and organizations.

Another important thing we have learned from this book is the broader concept of wellbeing and flourishing. Concepts such as success, the taboo of death, aging, kindness, caring and happiness, among many other concepts that we have reviewed, show us that being well, and flourishing depend more on how we define these concepts and how we include them in our lives, than on how they are defined, as their definitions have changed over time. For example, seeing people not only in terms of their productive capacity and utility helps us redefine success and value knowledge. Also, it is important to bring back the caring rituals which were once commonplace. How we accompany the dying may change how we see death, as Rodríguez-Prat and Monforte-Royo demonstrated in their chapter.

Organizations and families can change our perspective of aging. We can change how we see older people and how we include them in society. For example, we can promote job opportunities with schedules that take into account the age of the employees. Also, we can train them in new technologies or in new competencies that are important nowadays. We can see them and treat them with the respect that comes with having experienced and seen more than us, experience that can have an important impact on within organizations and societies.

In an increasingly individualistic society, another concept that we can change to promote human flourishing is caring. As the UN warned in 2018, we have a global care crisis. Human beings are social, but in recent history, we have not promoted caring, and we have even seen caring as a burden on our professional careers. We should work to change this tendency and shift towards creating cultures of care. Organizations can lead this change by boosting family friendly cultures (Thompson et al., 2004) and family friendly supervisor behaviors (Allen, 2001), so workers can have better work-life balance, turning caring into a positive aspect of society, as work and family research has proven that there is a positive spillover between work and family enrichment.

All of these learnings can facilitate and promote societies, organizations, families, and individuals’ flourishing. The positive consequences of such would be much greater than any costs associated with incorporating these learnings. If we make all of these changes in our daily lives to promote flourishing, we can foster an important change in our ecosystems, and as we know, all living creatures are affected by their ecosystems. For this reason, it is important to give flourishing the weight it deserves, as in doing so, the impact will be positive for all of us.