What is Wellbeing?
If someone says that they need to take care of their wellbeing, what do you think they mean?
It’s quite hard to guess, isn’t it? This is because wellbeing might mean very different things for different people. From financial prosperity, a healthy lifestyle or a stable emotional disposition, wellbeing is a concept that is overarching and holistic.
If you look at how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the noun ‘wellbeing’, it says that
"Wellbeing is the state of feeling healthy and happy”
What makes you feel healthy and happy can be very different to someone else. It can be an organic vegan diet, a morning jog, a high-paying job, raising children or more – it's just about what you consider important.
The concept of wellbeing. Where did it come from? Let’s take a look at its origins and explore how people practice it in the 21st century.
Origins of the concept of wellbeing – The Greeks and Eudemonia
The idea of wellbeing goes back to what the ancient Greeks referred to as ‘eudemonia’; it means pursuing happiness, welfare and seeking prosperity.
Aristotle was the first to define what eudemonia entailed. He believed that it meant continually practicing virtues that allow a man to achieve excellence. He warned that eudemonia did not just mean gaining respect, status, property or pleasure. Instead, it is a state of mind, achieved only when man follows a ‘comprehensive set of virtues and principles’. These virtues are fundamentally connected to what we now understand as values of moderation, discipline, kindness and love.
And who hasn’t heard of Ikigai?
It is a Japanese term that goes back to the ancient Heian period (794 to 1194). Ikigai is all about finding joy in life through purpose.
It promotes an ideology with four overlapping components, which are: experiencing passion, sustaining vocation, having a mission and building a profession. They say that those who perform activities that give ikigai to their lives live longer and with more direction.
Modern renditions of Eudemonia include various concepts that are deeply tied to the idea of human wellbeing.
Positive psychology is a recent field of study established by Martin Seligman in the 1990s. It focuses on using psychological interventions to encourage positive subjective experiences. Other mainstream concepts such as self-actualization and manifestation also focus on getting people to commit to a holistic set of values that ensure they live healthy, happy and well.
So how does someone take care of their wellbeing?
They practice positive psychology, self-actualization, ikigai, manifestation, and eudemonia. In essence, they focus on the following distinct areas of wellbeing:
1. Physical wellbeing
By keeping fit or engaged in physically stimulating activities to ensure the body works well. It is a common misconception to believe that exercise is all there is to physical wellness. Putting nutritious food in your body is also a big part of it.
2. Mental wellbeing
It is common for people to be struggling with deep-seated fears and other traumas stemming from personal experiences. Taking care of your mental wellbeing by paying attention to the present moment a.k.a mindfulness, talking about your feelings, connecting with people, taking a break and doing something you're good at plays a vital role in experiencing an optimistic outlook towards life.
3. Social wellbeing
Living in a big city is often isolating and having healthy relationships with people around you deeply affects your outlook towards life. It is essential to find a community, friends, or family that are supportive, loving and kind in order to live a balanced life.
4. Economic wellbeing
Money is the way of the world. Earning money and working a job that rewards and compensates you well is vital. There is no doubt that your financial status goes a long way in ensuring that you live a healthy and happy life.
The next time someone says they're focusing on their wellbeing, remember that they are referring to a holistic way of being. They are engaging in practices that help them live their best life!