Well-being is often used flippantly with wellness with the belief that they are one and the same. Understanding what is well-being and why it is important for you to live a better life will help you to make the distinction between the two. Whilst they are both important, well-being is a lot more all-encompassing and holistic than wellness.
When you speak of wellness you tend to refer to primarily to your physical state of your life. On the other hand, well-being relates to your mental, emotional and spiritual states. These, of course, are all impacted by our physical state or wellness.
In Chinese and Eastern practices, wellness is also interpreted as being in a healthy state while well-being is viewed as being in a state of happiness which results from living a balanced life.
We will explore well-being and its importance to happiness and balance in life.
The Concept of Happiness In Well-Being
Have you ever stopped to consider what happiness really means?
Every year on the 20th March, we celebrate the International Day of Happiness. There is even a World Happiness Report that ranks world happiness. This year the European countries dominated with Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland taking up the top 5 spots.
Criteria such as healthy life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity and social support are measured to determine where people are the happiest. The World Happiness Report is a policy-making survey of the state of global happiness. It ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.
World Happiness Report explored the empirical links between the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and subjective well-being (SWB). The SDGs were ratified in 2015 as the successor to the Millennium Development Goals and have a target date of 2030.
So, when viewed in the wider global context of its contribution to SDGs and their impact on world progress, the matter of human well-being becomes an important consideration for living a better life.
The 6 Dimensions Of Well-Being
Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, being satisfied with life, a sense of purpose, and the ability to manage stress effectively. Although each persons’s definition of happiness will vary, there are 6 key building blocks of well-being that you should explore.
There is a lot of debate about the role of physical health on your well-being. When you consider that without a healthy physical state, everything becomes more difficult to attain or achieve, you may be inclined to place more priority on your physical health.
Movement is a very simple physical state to understand. If you are incapacitated or overweight you may not be as agile as you need to be to get around. A poor diet brings with it lethargy and non-communicable illnesses such as diabetes, clogged arteries and hypertension. These illnesses get worse over time if not addressed and soon you may be facing an early death or a life plagued with disease and pain.
I will not expound on the benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise for good physical health here. There is a tremendous amount of information available around you. I will remind you that a healthy physical state has immense benefit for you and will directly impact your ability to function effectively in your personal and professional life.
Your brain is connected to your spinal cord by your brain stem. Your spinal cord runs through the center of your bones in the spine. The spinal cord functions mainly to transmit nerve signals to your body and from the fibers of your sensory neurons to your sensory cortex. It is also the main area for the coordination of many of your reflexes.
Your brain receives message and puts them together in a way that is meaningful to you. It is also the repository (memory) of all your information. It controls your thoughts, words, movement, memory and recall and also the functions of most of the organs in your body.
Together with the spinal cord, it is called the Central Nervous System (CNS).
A healthy mind is essential to good health and your physical functioning. If your mind is not healthy, your body will not function at its best. Understanding how the body and brain are connected highlights the importance of ensuring that you treat your body with due care and attention.
Drinking adequate water, sleeping enough, exercising regularly and maintaining a diet that fuels your body and mind with energy and vitality are critical for living a long and illness-free life.
Your emotions are your mind’s and body’s responses that happen subconsciously when you detect that a certain reaction is required in a certain situation. Understanding that the thoughts in your brain cause your body to move and respond comes from knowing that your brain is connected to your spinal cord.
Remember the CNS? All your nerves are connected through this intricate and complex network to your brain. Emotional health is crucial to your efficient and effective human functioning. If the mind can play tricks on you, as the saying goes, then your emotions can respond accordingly resulting in you feeling very detached from the world around you.
Our emotions are governed by our sensory and perceptive composition and should be trusted and used to communicate with our body and mind to inform when things are good and not good. In that way, we will be able to position ourselves accordingly and ensure that our needs are attended to.
When our mental, physical and emotional functioning are healthy and aligned we become highly congruent. This helps us to be more effective communicators, followers and leaders and to live a more authentic life.
A key criterion for a country’s World Happiness ranking is social support. This together with generosity refers to the social dynamic that compound our feelings of happiness. We are social beings, as are most animals. We function at at our best when we are in a tribe and can share our time, feelings and thoughts.
Being alone can have a major negative impact on your mind, body, emotions and abilities.
In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to support and nurture a healthy adult. Supportive relationships contribute to happy emotions which take positive messages through your body to your brain. A simple act like a touch, hug or familiar voice can determine life or death and the quality of your existence.
Your vocation prepares you for the world of work. It facilitates your ability to earn, learn, progress in life, gain respect, build relationships, establish your status and achieve your goals and dreams. Through a successful career or profession you are able to realise many personal benefits that in turn contribute to your happiness and the happiness of those around you.
Many relationships are started and developed through work and it is an extended community that holds an important place in our functioning and health. If we are not happy at work those thoughts and feelings affect our personal lives. We may find it difficult to achieve what we want in life and the stresses can impact our physical and mental health.
The recent economic impact of COVID-19 provides good insight to the effects of a weakened work structure on our society and functioning. Many persons around the world have lost their jobs and income as a result and are struggling to keep their heads above water.
Their well-being is being challenged making it difficult to experience thoughts and feelings of happiness and health.
Your intellectual development refers to more than a healthy brain and good mental state. Intellectual well-being encompasses your ability to learn and educate yourself in a way that enhances your personal effectiveness and your contribution to your communities and society as a whole.
This does not mean that you have to have a PhD. Far from it. What it does speak to is your ability to access the information and support that you need to develop yourself as an educated human being. This includes your vocation, the ability to make informed and educated choices and the freedom to access the sources and avenues to strengthen your knowledge.
Without access to learning, knowledge and education you will be stunted in your growth and achievements which in turn will have a direct in your personal feeling of well-being.
The Yin-Yang Of Well-Being
The Chinese Taijitu teaches you the concept of dualism and balance. It describes how opposing forces may really complement each other, creating interconnectedness and interdependence in the natural world. Each one gives rise to the other as they communicate with and interrelate to one another.
This positioning and interconnectedness is also true of the 6 dimensions of well-being. Each dimension has a direct impact on the other and is affected by a change in the others. This, in essence, is the heart of what it means to live as a well being. Knowing that to enjoy the richness of a full life means giving light and importance to each of the 6 dimensions, perhaps not at the same time but, in a way that causes happiness and healthy functioning to keep the wheel turning at the right momentum.
Do you want to understand how to live a happier and healthier life?
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