Wellbeing Support Resource

What exactly is well being?

Being “well” is not simply the absence of psychological illness. Nor is it the momentary states of happiness that many people experience. Well being should be thought of as an array of positive aspects of functioning.

What are the components of wellbeing? 

There are three 3 broad areas in your life that contribute to your well being. When your wellbeing is high you can be said to be flourishing; living within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, growth, and resilience. 

 

The Pleasant Life 

This is not just about experiencing physical pleasure, rather, it pertains to having a lot of positive emotion about the present, past, and future. This type of pleasure may often come from the attainment of goals or valued outcomes.   

The Engaged Life

This often comes from being involved and absorbed in work, intimate relations, or leisure activities. Time usually passes quickly during these activities and there may be a sense of “self-loss”.

The Meaningful Life  

A meaningful life may come from using your signature strengths and talents to belong to and serve something bigger than yourself.  This may be in the form of religion, community, family, or politics etc. 

As the experience of all three of these aspects increases, your well being increases.

Are you flourishing? 

  • Apply these 3 categories to different aspects of your life (personal, work, social, etc)
  • You may find that you are flourishing more in some areas than others
  • Below are a series of questions that you can ask about your own life to identify areas that you can focus on improving

For example

  • You may be flourishing in your social life (e.g., community/charity activities), but you may not be as engaged at work.

Where are you flourishing or languishing?

Pleasant life

Meaningful life

Engaged life

  • How often do you experience joy?
  • Do others say you usually look happy or unhappy?
  • How frequently do you feel gratitude
  • How often do you feel relaxed?
  • Do you savour moments or are you too busy to notice?
  • How much do you laugh and smile?
  • Are you usually energetic or lethargic?
  • What I do matters to society?
  • Do you feel connected to those you interact with?
  • Do you usually feel your life has a purpose?
  • Do you engage in any spiritual activities?
  • Do you usually feel close to loved ones?
  • Are you contributing to something larger?
  • How much do you help others?
  • Do you know your strengths?
  • Do you pursue activities that use your strengths?
  • How often are you immersed in an experience?
  • Do you often feel a sense of accomplishment?

 How can you increase your wellbeing and flourish?

Increase positive emotions

  • Thank people who have helped you (colleagues, friends, family) - send an email, Facebook message
  • Decrease negative emotions. Learn conflict management skills

Increase engagement

  • Identify your strengths and utilise them
  • Pursue your interests
  • Seek opportunities to develop your skills

Increase meaning

  • Partake in more community activities
  • Create/join a team
  • Seek experiences that you give you meaning
  • Prayer or meditation (see mindfulness)
  • Try and help more (general or specific areas)

How do I flourish when I'm struggling?

Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs provides a way of thinking about wellbeing in stages. This pyramid suggests that people first have to meet lower level needs before they can move onto higher level needs. 

First people need to obtain their basic survival needs (food, water, shelter), before they can move onto safety. Once they feel safe they can start to build and develop social relationships, and then build their self-esteem. The final level is self-fulfillment (a.k.a: self actualising), which is where a person is at their peak and can begin to flourish.

Summary

  • The needs lower in the pyramid concern survival
  • The needs higher in the pyramid concern flourishing
  • Once lower needs are met one can begin to flourish
  • Expect to move up and down the pyramid during your life

Videos

What is happiness? A short video on the measurement of happiness.

Martin Seligman talks about how to increase your wellbeing. These tips are based on evidence-based research.

 Useful links

Documents

Do you prefer to access this content in a document? You can download a written version of this information here.