February 8, 2024

The Makeup of a Flourishing Life

Thrive blogger, Amy Dunn, summarizes Miroslav Volf's ideas about a flourishing life.

The flourishing life, the life that is worthy of our shared humanity, is most beautifully considered in terms of not just our individual lives, but of our interaction and impact on the world. There are three aspects in particular that help us reflect on our life in this way—agency, circumstances, and emotions. These three aspects encapsulate our relationship with ourselves and the world around us.

Agency is a person’s perception of the control and influence they have to make decisions about their life. What might agency look like for a person who is thriving? We can look back at the words of Jesus when he said to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. While this meditation has to be translated into concrete forms of action, we can see that we have been given the free agency to choose love and to choose how to offer love. 

When it comes to circumstances, the petitions in the Lord’s prayer can serve as a lamppost to the priorities of offering love. The very first petition is, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” That concerns the world, right? Shifting from our individual concerns to a universal, global concept of concerns invites us to realize that everything is connected, everything is involved—when the world thrives, we thrive. Further into the Lord’s Prayer we see a petition for the individual’s needs, but often this order becomes inverted. Broadening our concern for the world, the kingdom, is broadening our ability to offer more love. 

When we let them, emotions guide us into a kind of attunement with the world. It’s not simply feeling good, but emotionally harmonizing to the good of the world and developing a sensitivity to the needs of others. When we are attuned to the good of the world, it means we rejoice when there is reason to rejoice, and mourn when there is pain, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15.

The heart of a flourishing life can be summed up simply: Love of God, love of neighbors. Seek the kingdom and the good of the world. In that good of the world, we can seek our own good. And be attuned to what is around us in joy and in sorrow.

Thrive Center


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