Matthew Lee, Harvard, on Human Flourishing

Do you want to achieve meaning in life and work? If so, how do you go about it? The pursuit of meaning in life and work can often be better understood within the broader concept of "flourishing."

What does it mean to “flourish” and to do so as a business leader or a citizen of the world? How might leaders promote greater flourishing in the world through their business enterprises? How can they know if they are making progress?  What are the individual and collective indicators of a flourishing life? 

The concept of flourishing in the field of psychology is related to several concepts such as increasing positive emotions, engaging with the world and work or hobbies, developing deep and meaningful relationships, finding meaning and purpose, and achieving goals through cultivating and applying strengths and talents. The idea of flourishing is not just happiness related to positive emotions, engagement, and meaning, but includes accomplishments, or the need for achievement, and relationships. 

A biblical worldview underscores the value of flourishing. Psalm 92:12 reminds us that “the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.”  The development of a disposition to flourish and to promote flourishing for others and for all creation is an important dimension of character, connected with the pursuit of moral goodness, truth, and beauty.  

The ELO Peer Advisory Group Network supports leaders through 1:1 Strategy Review Sessions, connecting with peers and "Learning Sessions." The Learning Sessions focus on the dimensions of good character, which are a foundation for effective leadership. We have previously covered these building blocks of good character: ambition, compassion, and to act justly.

The ability to display and empower flourishing is the focus of our next Learning Session on July 20th which will ask: 

  • How does a focus on flourishing shift our awareness to ultimate concerns? 
  • What organizations are demonstrating the power of flourishing in the marketplace? 
  • What dispositions have leaders cultivated in order to promote their own flourishing and the flourishing of others? 
  • Is it possible to measure and improve flourishing for individuals and groups? 
  • What is the specific contribution of Christianity to the creation of a more flourishing world? 

Our presenter for the upcoming Learning Session is Dr. Matthew T. Lee, Senior Research Scientist and Director of Empirical Research at the Human Flourishing Program, Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, where he founded and leads the Program’s Community of Practice. In addition to continuing his work at the Human Flourishing Program, in August he will join Baylor University as a Professor of the Social Sciences and Humanities.  

His current research explores topics such as benevolent service to others, organizational compassion capability, and the integration of social science and the humanities.  He is lead editor of Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and the Humanities and lead author of The Heart of Religion: Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God’s Love, both published by Oxford University Press.

For further information on this upcoming Learning Session or the ELO Peer Advisory Group Network, please email