What is Wellbeing? Enter the word in your search engine of choice, and like Beyonce in the noughties or Adele/Ed Sheeran in the twenty-tens, the hits just keep on coming…is it ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’; maybe ‘one’s quality of life’; perhaps even ‘living life to our full potential’?
Happiness, quality, potential. It’s all of these, and more. Martin Seligman, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, would throw flourishing into the mix. Ask any Guru and they will each bring their own teaching(s). Go to any bookshop, and you won’t walk out empty handed if you’re looking to add to your library.
What is it?
The answers are everywhere, and if you’re reading these words, it’s a question you’re already asking.
Where do I find it?
How can I nurture it?’
These are the more complex questions, because like bread, the ingredients are simple (and abundant), but we all bring our own skills and techniques to the recipe, and then flavour its meaning to our own tastes.
Wellbeing should be treated as a verb not a noun, and it will sit on the benchtops of our modern lives going stale unless we go back to our well-worn recipes and re-bake it fresh every day.
Our daily bread if you will.
It’s your health; your personal relationships; your feelings of safety; your lifestyle; your sense of achievement; your understanding of self; your connection to community; your identity and belonging.
It’s your place in the world here and now. Your contentment with the past. Your vision for the future.
Wellbeing, being well, wellness…
Wellness is more than the absence of negatives in our lives. It’s lived happiness. It’s what we build our days around (and on). It’s what we add to our lives (and what then in turn is added to us). Unlike happiness (which many people confuse it with), wellness is way of living (a lifetime companion) rather than a transient emotion (or temporary partner). Try thinking of it this way…it’s treating your life lovingly (as opposed to being in love with your life).
It’s also limitless and it’s exponential. Living ‘above the line’ if you will.
Quite literally, an individual’s wellbeing (at any given point in time) is a reflection of their focus on being well as a way of life (over time). By definition, the starting point for each of us is knowing what makes our individual selves well. Wellbeing then becomes a journey rather than a destination, but one that can only commence once we have taken that decisive first step of making deliberate choices (and acting intentionally) to incorporate this individually conceived ideal of wellness into our everyday lives.
In other words, it’s living holistically to make us feel whole, and the end point is only limited by our own self determined value of the moment to moment thoughts and actions that comprise the arc of our lives.
Deep stuff? Not really…no deeper than an actual well…overflowing with water from a naturally occurring spring…collected and preserved and protected to provide a source that continually enriches and replenishes – sustaining and soothing, cool and life giving, protective in times of drought, drunk from freely but never greedily. The centre of a life, both substantial and transparent…and in imagination, something to be wished upon.
It is for each of us to fill our own wells. To maintain our levels, to remain refreshed. To know what it is to be, to aspire to be well (and even more so, a well being). Essentially, it means that any time we ‘go to the well’ we are in essence returning to us. To our own values and strengths. And each time we return we do so with purpose and gratitude. The purpose to refill the well, and the gratitude of knowing that with our wells full (to overflowing?) we will naturally revive.
This is what wellbeing is (and how it starts). Where it leads is up to you…
About the Author
Robert is a nationally registered AHPRA Psychologist and a Full Member of both the Australian Psychological Society and the College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists. For more than a decade, Robert has worked extensively with professional athletes across all major codes in Australia including the NRL (where he has been a long standing consultant with a Sydney based club), the AFL and the A League.
Throughout this time, Robert has also widely consulted with elite and sub elite athletes (across a range of individual and group sports) who have successfully competed at both international and national level (including the Olympic Games, World, and National Championships). Robert has pioneered Sport and Performance Psychology programming and services across multiple settings, focusing on the wellbeing and mental skills development of athletes/performers. Robert runs MindField Sport Psychology and as a Positive Psychologist is a former licensee of the Happiness Institute.
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