Flourishing Pearls

What does flourishing mean to you? Is there an age span for flourishing? I do not put age limits on an individual’s thriving, but aspects of our culture have a bias against an individual’s abilities as they age.

Actor Cary Grant was sent a telegraph from Encyclopedia Britan­nica (oldie, but goodie territory). The telegram read, “How old Cary Grant?”  Whether he kept a straight face or not, Grant telegraphed back, “Old Cary Grant fine. How you?” It is a commentary on our culture’s views of aging that in his final movie-making years, Grant said that he was reviewed for how old he looked instead of how great or second-rate his movie was for public consumption.

All of us want to “rate” or flourish in some fashion. I feel privileged to have “rated” in this year’s Illinois Woman’s Press Association Professional Communications Contest for a blog entry. “Pearls of Strength” (12-13-21) won First Place in Web & Social Media: Blog, Nonprofit (government or educational category). Thankfully, no one asked me, “How old?”  

Flourishing is in the eye of the beholder and aging qualities, to a certain extent, also are variable. Consider the attitude of author Sarah Delany (On My Own at 107): “…friends that are 20, 30 years younger come in here and tell me they’re worried about me, but to tell you the truth, I think I look better than they do. They come huffing and puffing up the steps and I’m thinking, ‘I hope you don’t die in my parlor!’ Isn’t that naughty?”  

Another cultural misstep has been to look at flourishing predominantly within the limited lens of the mainstream population. Sociologist Deborah Carr intends to enlarge research findings to include looking into people who flourish in adversity. Through an ambitious grant application to the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Boston University’s Carr nabbed one of 11 grants to study flourishing. An interdisciplinary team currently is studying flourishing among school drop-outs embroiled in the juvenile justice system, inmates serving long-term sentences, and newly-arrived refugees from Somalia and Afghanistan.

Carr urges that we develop an “overarching theory of flourishing in adversity.” The goal is too good to be true: create a future that promotes possibilities for people living in categories of adversity! Every person deserves to feel a sense of belonging and safety; everyone needs opportunities for flourishing.                                                                                                                                                 

Reread my “Pearls of Strength: We are missing out if we do not care about the personal best from each person. We need each person’s flow in the flock…Is your flow tank full? It is a possibility that we could be a people of murmuration, flowing together to resolve the weighty issues of life.

What is one of your stories of flourishing in your life this year? If you cannot think of one, start something new today! Flow and flourish!

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

101. How might you find more ways to flourish in the coming months?

102. What might you do to support flourishing in other individuals?   

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

1 comment

  1. Congratulations on your “Pearls of Strength” receiving the IWPA award. You educate, challenge, and enrich all of us with your blog.


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