While many strive for happiness, taking care of your overall wellbeing is actually a more sustainable goal, no matter the circumstances your life presents. The pursuit of happiness is a universal human goal, but it is only a small component of your wellbeing. What you think will make you happy is often only a short-term fix. Read on to discover a deeper exploration into this topic, answers on how you can start and maintain a routine to achieve an ongoing healthy wellbeing, as well as personal tips from Tim Martin (World Champion and Pro Natural Bodybuilder) and Mia Jacob (Yoga and Pilates instructor).
After studying Dr Lori Santos’s (Yale University) ten-week course on ‘The Science of Well-Being’ and conversations with Tim Martin and Mia Jacob, I have become much more conscious of how important our overall wellbeing is compared to the fleeting feeling of happiness. For example, for a while you might be happy enough to get a promotion at work, have the wedding of your dreams or purchase a new home with the amazing view. However, if you are not mindful and do not practise gratitude, this beautiful feeling fades and you will no longer appreciate what you have, to the same extent.
Given the unprecedented time and uncertainty we are momentarily living in, and all the challenges we might have to face in our future (environment, new technologies and their impact on our employment, and potential future pandemics), taking care of our wellbeing will be our biggest investment, no matter the new circumstances we find ourselves in.
I am confident that establishing a growth mindset and practising a wellbeing routine is key in times of uncertainty, and will guarantee a clear mind and healthy body.
So, what is wellbeing?
Wellbeing is defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. It is a central concept in positive psychology. Positive psychology is concerned with eudaimonia, ‘the good life’. It is a reflection on what holds the greatest value in life, that is, the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life. While not attempting to specify a strict definition, positive psychologists agree that one must live a happy, engaged and meaningful life in order to experience eudaimonia. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, refers to eudaimonia as “using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification”. He divides wellbeing into five key areas that make up a model called PERMA:
Positive Emotion: balancing positive emotions and negative emotions for life satisfaction
Engagement: being engaged or having a sense of being in the groove of what you are doing
Relationships: maintaining social relationships which connect you to other people in your life
Meaning: having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life
Accomplishments: having a sense of skill, mastery or accomplishment in your work
What can you do to boost your emotional and physical wellbeing and, ultimately, your resilience?
Tim and Mia share their wellbeing routines below.
Tim: Wellbeing is about dedicating time early each morning to make sure I get in my programmed training at the gym. This will energise me for the day, and then allow me to be in the right frame of mind and focus my energy and attention into the other aspects of my life as a father, husband and business owner.
It’s about making sure I help myself so that I’m in the right mental and physical state to help others in the best way I can. I’m able to practise some mindfulness during my training each morning to try to prioritise my day and week. World Champion and Pro Natural Bodybuilder based in Australia.
Mia: Wellbeing, for me, concerns every area in our lives, not just physical health. It also both affects and is affected by our relationships, our home environment, our financial situation, our professional purpose and our spirituality.
I make sure I meditate every day and find time for Yoga and physical activity. Meditation and Yoga help me to connect mind and body, and create awareness and space for what I really need.
I also make sure I give myself enough time to do things that bring me joy. I believe joy is the essence of life and certainly the most important ingredient for our overall wellbeing. Sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our routine to do little or big things that bring us (and other people) joy. Yoga and Pilates Instructor based in Monaco.
Dr Santos suggests that we’ve been misled about what brings us happiness, and that our intuitions are wrong in chasing many things, such as possessions, beauty and even, perhaps, marriage. She points to a string of studies to explain her view, including work by Princeton researchers, showing that once you reach a certain income of around US$75K / AU$100K / €63K, a new pay raise doesn’t increase your happiness or emotional wellbeing. Your brain often deceives you. You may feel you want something – a new house, a car, a dress, more money or that yummy looking croissant at the French bakery – but it might actually only bring you short-term pleasure or make you feel worse about not being happy with what you have. The good news is that the simple things are what you enjoy more in the end, such as experiences like relaxing in nature or hanging out with friends.
A greater wellbeing requires you to routinely ignore your impulses and put strategies into practice. Here is my list of ideas to boost your wellbeing:
Identify, then live by your signature strengths.
Savour your experiences (spending time with someone, enjoying your meal).
Practise daily gratitude or start your own gratitude journal.
Exercise random acts of kindness towards yourself, your loved ones or strangers.
Make time for social connection and nurture your relationships.
Get sufficient sleep (7–8 hours a night) and try to establish a good sleep routine.
Start moving; research suggests that around 30 minutes of exercise a day can boost your mood in addition to making your body healthier.
Meditate daily or practise mindfulness during a walk.
Spend more time in nature.
Reduce your time spend on social media.
However, knowing all the above is not enough. Santos’s own research concludes that knowledge only plays a small role in how we make decisions. Habits and an ability to regulate our emotions have much more influence on our wellbeing.
So as Tim, Mia and Dr Santos pointed out, daily practise is key. If you start to make changes to your life, start a new routine or develop new habits, you need to see evidence of it in your daily life.
I suggest you start a transformational challenge by yourself, or with someone else for support, for at least 30 days. Why 30 days? Challenges remove the pressure of being forever disciplined. They are a great way to experiment and get first-hand insights into whether something works for you as an individual or not, and they're also great for tricking yourself into developing new habits.
Of course, there is more I can support you with, like negative visualisation and many more proven and tested coaching and positive psychology tools.
Get in touch if you would like support during your transition to achieving a greater wellbeing, exploring your strengths or reflecting on challenging topics. I am here for you.
Iris – Your Transformational Coach