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Well-being is often considered to be a somewhat complex and comprehensive concept. For example, the Office for National Statistics in the UK publishes Measures of National Well-being, which includes measures such as life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety, as well as more specific indicators like access to healthcare and education.

Nevertheless, for the purpose of our discussion we will only cover psychological well-being, which generally refers to the overall state of an individual’s mental health and satisfaction with life. Psychological well-being is not merely the absence of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, etc., but involves a more comprehensive sense of satisfaction and functioning in 6 areas of one’s life (Physical, Emotional, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual, and Executive Function).

Physical well-being encompasses aspects including the state of our physical health such as diet, sleep patterns and overall level of fitness.

Emotional well-being includes our ability to cope with stress and effectively manage our emotions.

Social well-being involves our ability to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with others.

Intellectual well-being involves our willingness and capability to learn new skills such as critical thinking as well as maintaining our curiosity and creativity throughout our lives.

Spiritual well-being involves a sense of meaning and purpose for our lives which also includes our self-awareness, values and beliefs.

Finally, our Executive Function allows us the self-awareness to observe each of the other functional areas required for balance and equanimity.

How Do We Measure Psychological Well-Being?

Measuring psychological well-being involves assessing various dimensions of an individual’s mental health and emotional state. The Ryff’s Scale of Psychological Well-Being measures six key components of well-being: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Diener and Biswas also developed a Brief Psychological Well-Being Scale for well-being, aligning with the following concepts: sense of meaning, supportive relationships, self-esteem, engagement, capability, and optimism.

How Can We Improve Our Psychological Well-Being?

By incorporating the six key components of well-being into your life you will score higher on the Psychological Well-Being Scale. You might ask, however, how do I improve in all these areas when I am currently feeling stressed out and overwhelmed right now. This might not be as challenging as it first seems. Small and consistent progress in the following areas will yield significant benefits. After all life is a journey not a destination.

Self-Acceptance: Sometimes, we tell ourselves we want to create something. Still, when we try, our critical inner voice begins to analyze, judge, and question, at times paralyzing our progress. The perfectionist in us wants to ensure that whatever we do will meet the approval of our inner sense of good enough. We may compare, measure, and minimize until, at last, we are afraid to do anything at all. The idea of self-acceptance is to know that every aspect of life experience has meaning, purpose, and value – including and especially – mistakes!

Autonomy: Our personal values are the foundational elements that help us to concentrate on what truly matters to us. Depending on others for essential aspects like safety, purpose, identity, worthiness, or self-esteem can be counterproductive. People are fallible, and inevitably, they may disappoint you. When this happens, the effort spent seeking their approval may seem futile, leaving you feeling betrayed or exploited. It is important to remember that you are responsible for your own emotions, decisions, and actions. As a result, you can direct your energy towards areas of your life where you can make an impact.

Environmental Mastery: One of the most powerful ways that we can improve our mastery of life’s day-to-day challenges is to align our thinking with our values rather than negative self-talk and unrealistic expectations. Consider that expectations can be both advantageous and detrimental, depending on their application. They help us prepare and protect ourselves, guiding us in fulfilling our needs. However, our thoughts, beliefs, and self-talk can either bolster or undermine these expectations. Positive self-talk and realistic expectations can offer a framework for our aspirations, while negative self-talk often leads to distress. One effective approach to counterproductive thinking is to accept what we can’t change and engage in thinking and behaviors that are aligned with our values. This strategy enables us to manage day-to-day life while progressing towards our most significant goals. Thus, even challenging and uncomfortable situations can be navigated.

To effectively manage problems, we first calm emotional reactions by mindfully contemplating the issue. Then, we acknowledge and accept the emotional aspects that hinder our objectives, without labeling them as good or bad. Finally, we select responses that are solution-focused and adaptable.

Personal Growth: One of the keys to personal growth is commitment toward self-improvement. This is the unwavering force that propels us toward our desires; it is the cornerstone of our journey. Whether it’s a personal aspiration, a sense of duty, or the pursuit of excellence in our various life roles, commitment defines our inner self and shapes our path to self-improvement and fulfillment.

Our commitments toward growth and improvement sharpen our understanding of ourselves, our goals, and the pathways to achieve them. Being open to new experiences and believing in ourselves is also required. Aspiring to personal growth without believing in its possibility is like holding a paintbrush without paint. Belief and courage are vital here. The courage to pursue our commitments enriches and allows us to grow, enhancing our skills and leading us to new destinations.

Positive Relations with Others: Positive, nurturing relationships can significantly bolster our body’s health and resilience. Conversely, relationships characterized by negativity and toxicity can adversely affect our physical well-being. To understand the influence of your personal relationships on your health, consider two pivotal relationships in your life. Reflect on the following questions to gain insight into their impact:

Nature of Interaction: How do these relationships make you feel on a day-to-day basis? Are they sources of comfort and support, or do they often lead to stress and discomfort?

Communication Patterns: Do these relationships involve open, honest communication, or are there frequent misunderstandings and conflicts? Meaningful relationships with others include reciprocal empathy, intimacy, and affection.

Emotional Influence: Do these relationships uplift and energize you, or do they leave you drained and stressed?

Physical Response: Have you noticed any physical reactions, such as relaxation or tension, when interacting with these individuals?

Long-term Effects: How have these relationships shaped your outlook on life, your self-esteem, and your sense of well-being over time?

Support Systems: Do these relationships provide a sense of security and understanding, or do they often lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness?

Growth and Development: Have these relationships contributed to your personal growth, or have they hindered your development in some ways?

Reflecting on these questions can provide valuable insights into the role these relationships play in your life and their impact on your physical and emotional health. Given the complex nature of our relationships, it may be of value to consider where improvements could be made by yourself and others to increase your sense of well-being.

Purpose in Life: Finding purpose in our lives requires awareness and introspection. One path to finding our purpose involves defining and living values-guided goals This aspect of our consciousness represents a deep sense of inner knowing, insight, and understanding about choices that serve our best interests. While we might initially seek popularity, attention, or wealth, we often discover that achieving these goals doesn’t necessarily increase our happiness. Conversely, when we direct our efforts towards meaningful endeavors, we frequently find that the journey itself is more rewarding than the result.  The path to achieving something we deeply value can be more fulfilling than the ultimate reward.

In a world where stress and burnout are the norms, the quest for well-being and meaning in your life can seem like an unattainable luxury. We all strive for a happier, healthier existence, but the path to achieving it often feels impossible, and what well-being may look like often remains a mystery.

Are you looking for a guide to improve your psychological Well-being? 

A path to discovering meaning, values, and purpose in your life?

“Well-Being: The Artfully Lived Life,” is your guide to greater meaning, values, and purpose in your life. This enlightening book provides the practical steps needed to enhance your physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. Learn from current research and practical wisdom on your journey to mental well-being. Take control of your life now by working with the more than 150 Wellness Exercises and Guided Meditations.

Dr. Donna R. Rogers

Dr. Donna R. Rogers

Dr. Donna Rogers is a clinical psychologist with training in marriage and family therapy who has been working in the clinical field since 1986. She and Dr. Kim Rogers are internationally published authors. Their book “Well-Being: The Artfully Lived Life” is a comprehensive and holistic guide to discovering meaning, values, and purpose in your life.

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