Every wellbeing coaching conversation I begin, each workshop I run, there is one question that needs to be addressed first:
What is wellbeing?
There is no single answer.
Here are some potential definitions:
Wellbeing is where each individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. The World Health Organisation.
‘Life satisfaction based on an individual’s perception of their health, happiness and sense of purpose’ Professor Sir Cary Cooper, world leading expert on health and wellbeing.
‘Feeling good and functioning well’ The New Economics Foundation.
From an academic paper addressing the challenge of defining wellbeing: ‘the balance point between an individual’s resource pool and the challenges they face’. Dodge and Sanders.
When we talk about wellbeing we don’t always mean the same thing. For some, wellbeing is about physical health and fitness. For others it’s about mental health or the absence of disease. Other ideas about wellbeing talk of thriving, flourishing, happiness, or being your best self. Some talk simply of happiness, of balance and of positive functioning.
A settled definition eludes us.
This is what I believe……
There cannot be one single definition of wellbeing. It is both highly individual and contextual. My sense of wellbeing is not yours and yours is not mine. Wellbeing is changeable too. It is not a constant state, and our sense of our own wellbeing can fluctuate depending on what is happening around us.
There cannot be a single lens through which we view wellbeing. It is social, psychological, physical, financial, nutritional. Everything is connected.
Whilst we cannot always control the influences on our wellbeing, we can control our reaction to them and work to actively improve our wellbeing.
Wellbeing is something that we need to focus on and work towards on an ongoing basis. We have to choose to do this work. It is not an end point but a process.
Wellbeing is a way of life.