What do you think are the greatest contributors to your emotional wellbeing?

What makes you happy? It’s an important question to consider, isn’t it?

There’s so much talk at the moment about wellbeing and resilience, I feel that the more we use these words, the more they lose their meaning.

So what do you think are the most significant contributors to your emotional wellbeing? If you’re anything like some of the teams I’ve been working with this week, you will likely include some fairly predictable things: time with friends, your relationships, time with the people you love, laughter, exercise. Physical exercise comes up a lot, as does time in nature. It might be engaging in stuff you love, listening to music, reading books, watching movies, perhaps listening to podcasts. Maybe you’re creative, you like painting, photography, playing the guitar.

HEDONIC WELLBEING

All the things listed above come under the banner of hedonic wellbing. These things lift your mood in the moment, and a lot of the research done on human happiness uses this measure of wellbeing, your hedonic wellbeing. For example, if I send you a notification at random points throughout the day and ask you to assess how you’re doing right now, that gives pretty good data on your hedonic wellbeing. But we often miss another side to human wellbeing.

EUDAIMONIC WELLBEING

Humans also respond well to a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose, a sense of impact, maybe working towards something greater than yourself. We also know how good it feels to have a sense of mastery. If you feel like you’re developing, you’re improving, you’re growing your skills. I’m sure you know Maslow’s hierachy of needs, and he used the term ‘self-actualization’, this idea of becoming the best version of yourself. If you do a quick search on Google around wellbeing or wellness, you probably won’t find much mention of this side to human flourishing.

WELLBING IN OPPOSITION

It’s essential to understand these two different approaches and components of your emotional wellbeing. As you start to reflect, you might begin to understand they can even be in opposition to each other. Take learning: it can often be challenging and sometimes frustrating. So if you were to be biassed towards your hedonic wellbeing, focusing most on how you feel from one moment to the next, you can see how the cost could be your long-term eudaimonic wellbeing.

You see, there’s this fundamental, beneficial distinction between understanding the importance of wellbeing in your life: moment to moment happiness or hedonia, and your wellbeing for your life, which is gained through purpose, growth, helping others and eudaimonia.

CONCLUSION

Be more mindful of these different approaches to your wellbeing. I feel that with social media, how we use our smartphones, with technology, generally, there’s a lot of asymmetry pointing towards hedonic – and the cost of that with our compromised attention, this perception that we never really have much time, all to often is our eudaimonic wellbeing.

So, how can you help others more? How can you find more meaning in what you do? What are your learning goals for next year? What skills are you developing, and how will you set yourself up to develop yourself and become ever more likely to achieve this self-actualization, becoming the best version of yourself?

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