‘Well-being’ is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is not only about good nutrition. It is not about exercising. It is not about going to the spar or having a massage. It is not easy to give a simple definition of Well-being, but I think it is necessary for people to have a better understanding of what this word means. Well-being is a complex combination of a person’s physical, emotional, social, economic, psychological, and spiritual state. It is about feeling good and functioning well, both as individuals and collectively.
‘Well-being’ or ‘Wellbeing’ is a compound word accepted in both forms, though, the hyphenated form is very common and more popular. I freely use both forms.
In recent years, well-being has moved from the realm of philosophy to that of science. There has been a growing body of research into what contributes to the quality of people’s experiences of their lives. This has enabled a new understanding of the factors that both influence and constitute well-being.
The way you think and feel are as important to your wellbeing as food, genetic make-up, circumstances, upbringing and environment.
Well-being is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. Positive well-being requires heightened personal development which gives a sense of self-fulfillment, a feeling of having a purpose and connection with others and your environment. When people feel they have a purpose in the world, they feel that they belong, that they matter. Therefore personal development, (knowing who you are, your potentials and capabilities, and being able to develop these), is crucial to achieve a feeling of wellbeing.
Research has shown that Personal development and Wellbeing are the most important determinants of our future, the future of our family, the future of our community, our country and the world. It is also the determinant of good leadership. All aspects of life are interdependent on wellbeing. In short, wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life. Every aspect of your life influences your state of wellbeing. Well-being is regarded as an ultimate goal of human endeavour.
Let us take the word itself – Wellbeing. This is a compound word – ‘Well’ and ‘Being’ The word ‘well’ does not need a lot of explaining. When we feel ‘well’ we feel good, we feel healthy, we feel happy. To feel well is a positive experience. When we feel well, we exhibit a positive relationship with everyone and everything around us.
The word ‘Being’ on the other hand is about life itself, about living – the course of existence of an individual; the actions and events that occur in living; a state of being or existence above and beyond the limits of material experience. Living includes the environment. Therefore the word ‘being’ points to the state of ‘Beingness’– The state or quality of being alive or of existence. This emphasis the fact that how each person thinks and feels about his or her life is important for wellbeing.
The Physical body with all the external interfaces, affect your internal physiology. Emotions – the way you feel, and the way you think also affect your physiology. The way you see others and interact with, or react to others, the way you see your environment, affect your behaviour, your physiology and ultimately, your wellbeing. Your beliefs and spiritual outlook in life influence the way you think, the way you behave, the way you see others and your circumstances. These in turn affect the way you feel and all contribute to your Well-Being!
Well being therefore touches on aspects of the body, mind and spirit.