Its easy for us to take comfort in measuring well-being logically.
‘If I don’t have a disease in my body and I am not feeling low in my mind, I should be well’ is a popular notion.
We are so impoverished, even in vocabulary to ask someone how they are.
We are no better in replying to that question as well.
For those of you who want to do better to make a genuine connection, try this out.
However, we all know our well-being is a layered phenomenon (when we are reasonably healthy and not low but still don't smile enough :-). Well-being includes various vitality components of the body and the mind.
I wish to focus on mental well-being in this post.
“I am doing reasonably well in my career. I have the materialistic comforts I want. I have a great family too. Everything is looking good. But…”
This is how some of the introductory conversations that I have with clients begin.
When we use 'but' in a sentence, we automatically negate what is said before that, says neuro-semantics.
Dr. Martin Seligman , a pioneer in positive psychology created an acronym called PERMA which defines a well rounded sense of mental well-being. He wrote this in his book “Flourish - A visionary new understanding of happiness” that well-being has five measurable elements that count towards it.
PERMA stands for
Positive (P) Emotions
Positive Emotion - Joy, gratitude, interest, pride, to name a few, are positive emotions. The interesting aspect of 'emotion' is that they are 'felt' and not 'thought'. Since, they are not in the “thinking space”, we might miss noticing them sometimes. However they are essential to complete our sense of well-being.
Engagement - When our top strengths match with the ask of an activity, with just a little stretch, we experience a state called “Flow”. We would have experienced this as “time is flying” or a “high” after completing a task. Engaging activities that make us live in the moment, with no spare capacity to process our never ending thoughts, make us feel good. This feeds into positive emotions.
Relationships - “Part of your purpose in life is to build strong and fruitful relationships with others, and your work setting is a perfect place to start" said Zig Ziglar. No one likes to work with colleagues who don’t value them. Sometimes the best of work places in materialistic terms don’t offer this one thing. This pulls down the overall mood of every person working in the team. So, a great team, peers and boss influence our sense of well-being.
Meaning - Belonging to and serving something much beyond oneself gives meaning to our lives. For some it may be a worthy cause, to some other, it could mean spirituality. For some others, it could just be a game. The content of what it is, doesn’t matter. What matters is that it holds a special place within the perceiver’s heart. A lot of subjectivity in our experience is derived from the meaning we attribute to it.
Achievement - This is the more obvious one. This builds on self esteem and improves our state instantly. The important point to note is that this one element should not occupy our attention all the time that it creates an imbalance with reference to the other listed above.
For the curious ones, you can find a lot of resources on Dr. Seligman's site to measure and improve your well-being.
If you are thinking,
I have everything, still I feel a void. ... Something is missing, don’t know what... Is this all there is?