October 13, 2022

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When we traditionally view health, we often think narrowly in terms of mental and physical well-being.   However, this mindset often overlooks multiple other aspects of life.   A recent essay by a Harvard University researcher proposes a broader view of human health.   Dr. Tyler VanderWeele proposes the concept of “human flourishing”, which widens the scope of what we think of health.   He describes flourishing as “a state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good”,  specifying 5 domains to which it applies:

  • Happiness & Life Satisfaction
  • Mental and Physical Health
  • Meaning & Purpose
  • Character & Virtue
  • Social Relationships

How do we achieve health in all these areas?  Dr. VanderWeele identifies 4 pathways that are both “relatively common and have reasonably sizeable effects on each domain.”   They include family, work, education, and religious community.  All 4 pathways don’t necessarily need to be followed by each of us; however, “if efforts were made to support, improve , and promote participation in these pathways, the consequences for human flourishing would be substantial.” VanderWeele, Tyler J. “On the promotion of human flourishing.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114.31 (2017): 8148-8156.

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