Aiming for Well-being

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“Move. Connect. Engage.”  – NWPF

Defining well-being has, for centuries, been the concern of philosophers. In recent years, however, the topic has attracted the attention of scientists within various fields, such as health and medicine, environmental studies, planning, policymaking, business management and leadership. As a result, presently, there is a growing body of knowledge identifying the factors or elements that both influence and constitute “the good life.”

Well Being

In the field of psychology, the most recent proposal is Martin Seligman’s “scientific theory of well-being.” He identified five pillars which, when adopted, also culminate in an individual’s flourishing.*  

When we flourish we go beyond being just okay with our lives. We thrive. We start generating emotional vitality, meaning, happiness and well-being for ourselves and others.

The five pillars of well being and activities to realize them are as follows:

1. Positive Emotions. Embracing positive emotions such as joy, kindness, compassion,  gratitude, love, serenity, optimism can expand our vision and attitude towards life—making us more flexible and resilient when confronting adversity.

  • Engage in deeds that make you feel good and generate goodness for others.
  • Meditate.
  • Express your gratitude.
  • Name three things that went well today.
  • Be kind and generous.
  • Take a nap under a tree.
  • Enjoy and cherish your family and friends.
  • Savor the moment.

2. Engagement. Life calls us to be active participants and live fully. What we do and call our work must issue from our character strengths and our passions. An engaged life is one of immersion and flow in what we are passionate about. Passivity, lack of interest, disengagement and distancing only result in social and emotional isolation.

  • Move.
  • Give yourself to what you love and find absorbing.
  • Sing a song, dance, play an instrument.
  • Cook.
  • Help others.
  • Get creative, take up painting
  • Ride a bike,
  • Write a story.

3. Relationships. We are social beings. We need to love and be loved by others, while embedded in a network of positive and constructive relationships. It is within this network that we find safety. It is our refuge when we need support and renewal.

  • Connect.
  • Establish and nourish your connections with family, friends and coworkers.
  • Send a letter or card, meet for lunch.
  • Seek those who favor positive emotions.
  • Practice reciprocity. In relationships one gives and receives.

4. Meaning. We seek a life with purpose. We feel centered, more balanced,  and experience a deeper sense of well-being  when we are clear about our personal strengths and values;  when we live by them;  when we  dedicate ourselves to community and to a cause larger than ourselves.

  • Engage
  • Identify your character strengths and talents.
  • Be clear about what you value in life—what you find essential and of vital importance.
  • Formulate a personal mission statement.
  • Volunteer.
  • Donate.

5. Accomplishment. We feel actualized when we accomplish what we set out to do. We like to achieve for the pleasure of achieving.  Goal attainment increases self confidence and makes us hopeful about the future.

  • Identify goals that are vital for you to achieve; stay focused; persist.
  • Savor your accomplishments.

In sum, aim for PERMA: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning. Accomplishments.

* Seligman, M. (2011) Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of a Happiness and Well-Being. New York: Free Press.

NWPF-plus-PRO-Logos_292x147This post was originally published by its proprietor, the Northwest Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. It is reproduced here with their permission.

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