What does wellbeing mean to you?
The journey to a life of wellbeing is not ‘one size fits all’. You must take into consideration your expectations, dreams and aspirations. These are unique to each and every one of us.
What is wellbeing?
Wellbeing is multifaceted and consequently difficult to describe in a clear and concise manner. You could express it as a state of mental wellbeing (HEAD: your thoughts), emotional wellbeing (HEART: your emotions) or physical wellbeing (BODY: your health) – or your overall lifestyle satisfaction. But this doesn’t capture the reality of wellbeing as experienced by you as an individual. What makes you happy will be very different to what makes another person happy.
What makes you happy?
Determinants of happiness (inspired by Miriam Aktar)
Food, water and shelter are some of the components that facilitate wellbeing, but they are not the whole story. How satisfied you are with life can be a direct result of your biological set point which is determined by your genes. This make up 50% of your overall sense of wellbeing. Only 10% of your happiness is dependent upon circumstances. So, changing your circumstances, such as going for a better job or moving house, will only have a marginal effect on your happiness.
The good news is you can choose to develop and enhance your feelings of wellbeing. Evidence shows that around 40% of your happiness is determined by the intentional activities you do every day. This means happiness is less about ‘having’ and more about ‘doing’. You can achieve this by changing how you spend your time. Adopt simple daily routines and practices that bring you joy and happiness, and introduce more of them into your life.
Barriers (inspired by Bridget Grenville- Cleave)
If happiness was that easy to attain, you would be feeling happy most of the time. If happiness still eludes you, then you may be experiencing some psychological barriers that are preventing you from achieving long-lasting happiness.
The negativity bias – this is where you pay more attention to your negative emotions than your positive emotions.
Duration neglect – when you evaluate your positive and negative experiences, their duration hardly matters. What matters is the intensity of emotions experienced and how the experience ends.
Social comparison – comparing yourself with friends and neighbours determines how you feel you are doing in life.
Lack of self-control – your lack of self-control will hinder how you channel your efforts to achieve your goals.
Adding further complexity to your journey of wellbeing, you must take into consideration how you seek happiness. This means finding a balance between eudaimonic wellbeing (feelings of satisfaction) and hedonic wellbeing (sensory pleasure).
Eudaimonic – you enjoy what you do as a result of being able to contribute to life in a meaningful way, eg career or gardening. This gives you a sense of purpose, resulting in longer-lasting happiness.
Hedonic – is a more self-centred route to wellbeing. You indulge in pursuits that give you a sense of personal satisfaction, eg drinking a glass of wine or shopping. This gives you a quick boost of happiness, which wears off quickly and is short-lived.
Both are important in achieving your overall sense of wellbeing – it’s about maintaining a balance between the two!
Time for action
Try this activity
On a piece of paper, write down the activities you do that make you feel happy.
How many are eudaimonic and how many are hedonic? If there is an imbalance, seek out ways you can rebalance, so you gain a mixture of both. This balance of eudaimonic and hedonic wellbeing will help you to create a positive sense of overall wellbeing.