The goal of human development is not merely the meeting of one’s physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem needs, nor development of individual capabilities or freedoms. It is human flourishing—the full development of one’s potential. ‘Human flourishing’ is a recent term in the field of human development. It is roughly analogous to Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.
Individuals cannot flourish alone, and only very rarely function alone. Being a member of a healthy society is an essential part of a thriving existence. Social institutions affect individuals’ identities and choices by prescribing norms and rules of behavior affecting human development outcomes. Five of the ten most peaceful countries in the world are among the most equal societies, characterized by an absence of discrimination and low levels of marginalization.
Social institutions such as social media, formal government, nongovernmental organizations, informal associations, cooperatives, producer associations, neighborhood associations, and clubs influence individuals’ identities and choices. For example, attitudes towards employment affect the material well-being of employees, and norms within hierarchies of discrimination restrict relative equality, empowerment, and political freedom. The most advanced societies are inclusive, cohesive, and evolving in ways that support human flourishing.
Support the individual development of those around you. Consider also volunteerism or social activism to promote, for example, policies expanding the availability and affordability of education, progressive taxation, or increasing minimum wages. You may wish to affiliate with groups having collective power and which support change, such as worker associations, social movements, political parties, human rights groups, or environmental advocacy groups.
In contributing to your community’s safety, growth, and quality of life, you are creating opportunities for others to flourish.