Wellbeing (well-being or well being).
Some people call it quality of life. Philosophers and value theorists call it prudential value. Economists call it welfare. We call it wellbeing.
It’s a measure of what’s valuable and meaningful to us as individuals.
What contributes to someone's sense of wellbeing may not be the same for another person. Personal values, cultural background, life experiences, and individual priorities all play a role. Some people may prioritise physical health, while others may find meaning and contentment through their relationships, work, or spiritual beliefs.
Even though wellbeing is an essential part of our experience as humans, we don’t directly influence our wellbeing. We don’t wake up, choose to feel better, and then improve our wellbeing as a direct result of that choice.
We indirectly influence our wellbeing by prioritizing our physical health, surrounding ourselves with people who bring us up, and finding and pursuing meaningful ambitions. These things (among many others), put together, constitute our wellbeing.
Wellbeing is the sum of our many states: our physical states, our emotional states, our social states, and so forth. Wellbeing is a sum of the behaviours we partake in, the habits we establish, the people we connect with, and the priorities we set.
We influence our wellbeing by influencing our states of being:
1. Physical State: This dimension refers to the state of an individual's physical health. It involves factors like nutrition, exercise, sleep, and the absence of illness or physical discomfort. Physical wellbeing is the foundation for overall wellbeing.
2. Mental State: Mental state relates to an individual's cognitive and emotional health. It involves factors such as psychological resilience, emotional regulation, the ability to manage stress, and the presence of positive emotions.
3. Emotional State: Emotional state refers to an individual's emotional state and their ability to understand, express, and manage their emotions effectively. It involves being in touch with one's feelings, experiencing a range of emotions, and maintaining emotional balance.
4. Social State: Social state focuses on an individual's relationships and interactions with others. It includes factors like having a support system, feeling a sense of belonging, and maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, and the community.
5. Financial State: Financial state relates to an individual's financial stability and security. It encompasses factors such as financial literacy, the ability to meet basic needs, save, invest, and plan for the future.
6. Occupational State: Occupational state involves satisfaction and fulfillment in one's work or chosen occupation. It includes factors such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and a sense of purpose in one's career.
7. Environmental State: Environmental state emphasizes an individual's connection to and harmony with their physical environment.
8. Spiritual State: Spiritual state pertains to an individual's sense of purpose, meaning, and connection to something greater than themselves. It can be expressed through personal beliefs, values, and practices.
Think of these states as variables in the equation of our overall wellbeing. While we may not get a choice in what these variables are, we do get to influence how much weight we assign to each of these variables according to our beliefs, values, and circumstances in life.
But we can’t prioritise all of these things at once.
As humans, we’re all finite and fallible. We can’t know the future. We can’t know everything.
We have to make decisions about what matters to us based on the knowledge and foresight available to us in a given moment. We can’t change that. But by taking time to understand the connections between our feelings, our ambitions, our environments, and our relationships, we can make informed decisions about our wellbeing.
Wellbeing isn’t static. Even in a single person. At times in life, your occupational wellbeing may be the most important variable in your wellbeing. At other times, your social wellbeing may be. Maybe your spiritual, social, and occupational wellbeing are equally important.
Wellbeing isn’t about finding the right formula – it’s about finding the right balance for you right now wherever you are in your wellbeing journey.