What do you think are the most significant contributors to your emotional wellbeing?
What makes you happy? It’s an important question to consider.
There’s so much talk at the moment about wellbeing and resilience. The more we use these words, the more they lose their meaning.
So what do you think contributes significantly to your emotional wellbeing?
If you’re anything like some of the teams I work with, you will probably include one if not all of the following—time spent with friends and the people you love, relationships and laughter.
Do you enjoy engaging in stuff you love, like listening to music, reading books, or watching movies? Perhaps you find pleasure listening to podcasts. Maybe you’re creative and like painting, photography or playing an instrument.
Physical exercise also comes up a lot, as does time in nature, and all of these are relatively predictable things.
The above come under the banner of hedonic wellbeing because they all lift your mood in the given moment. A lot of the research done on human happiness uses hedonic wellbeing as a measure of wellbeing.
Imagine if I asked you at random points throughout the day to assess how you’re doing at that present moment. Your responses will provide pretty accurate data on your hedonic wellbeing.
But we often miss another side to human wellbeing.
Humans respond well to a sense of meaning, purpose and impact. We also thrive when working towards something greater than ourselves. We also know how good it feels to have a sense of mastery when you know that you’re developing, improving, and you’re growing your skills.
I’m sure you have heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He used the term ‘self-actualization’, an idea of becoming the best version of yourself.
Do a quick online search on wellbeing or wellness, and you won’t find much about this type of human flourishing.
Wellbeing in Opposition to Itself
It’s essential to understand these two components of your emotional wellbeing.
As you begin to reflect, you might understand they can even be in opposition to each other.
Take learning: it can often be challenging and sometimes frustrating. Imagine if you were biased towards hedonic wellbeing or focusing on how you feel from one moment to the next. You can see how the cost could be your long-term eudaimonic wellbeing.
You can see that there’s a fundamental, beneficial distinction between understanding the importance of wellbeing in your life: (moment to moment happiness or hedonia) and wellbeing for your life.
Wellbeing for your life is gained through purpose, growth, helping others and eudaimonia.
Be more mindful of these different approaches to your overall wellbeing.
Take social media and how we use our smartphones. The same applies to technology generally. There’s a lot of asymmetry pointing towards hedonic wellbeing. The cost of that is compromised attention and a perception that we never have much time. All too often, it is our eudaimonic wellbeing that suffers.
How to Improve Your Wellbeing
During your daily life, practise gratitude and nurture your good relationships by spending time with friends or family. Get fresh air daily, be in nature and take part in physical activity. Listen to music and podcasts and read. Work with creative projects, play an instrument, cook and eat good food. Watch good movies, connect with people you love, walk the dog, do yoga and meditation.
Set and achieve goals and measure your progress. Learn and develop skills and self-awareness. Have a purpose, find meaning in what you do, create impact and help others. Volunteer within your local community, reach your potential and cultivate a feeling of belonging.
So, what simple steps can you take to help others more in your everyday life? How can you find more meaning in what you do? What are your learning goals for next year, and what new skills are you developing?
How can you develop yourself and become likely to achieve self-actualization to become the best version of yourself?