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Positive psychology experts have concluded that there are a variety of components that contribute to our overall sense of well-being. How we fare across these areas determines how joyful we feel and how much meaning we find in our lives.
We don’t have to thrive in all areas to feel well. In fact, I’d guess doing well across all facets of our lives is a rare treat for most of us. We just have to be doing OK, on average, to have a healthy sense of well-being and to feel relatively satisfied with life.
When I read about this, I thought this might provide us with another kind of diagnostic tool. That is, when we feel less than our best, the description of these life segments might help us pinpoint the reason why, and the areas where we may want to focus on for growth.
Let’s focus on understanding the areas of our lives where we are thriving, as well as those that may need a little work. Here are the major areas that scientists believe contribute to our overall sense of well-being:
- Physical well-being – Are you free from any major illness? Do you get enough sleep? Do you have the energy needed to carry out the tasks of the day?
- Emotional and social well-being – Do you have strong relationships in your life? Do you have friends or family to call on when you need comfort or support? Are you able to effectively cope with negative emotions when they arise?
- Work or activity well-being – How do you spend your day? Are you fulfilled by how you spend your time? It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is whether you are finding enjoyment and fulfillment doing it.
- Financial well-being – Do you have enough to make ends meet and save towards long-term goals? Are you secure in your financial future? Do you and your significant other agree about financial priorities?
- Community well-being – Do you know your neighbours? Do you belong to groups or have special interests where you interact as part of a community? Are there other ways you engage with those around you?
How do you think you’re doing in each of these areas? Is there one that jumps out at you as a segment of your life that would benefit from more attention? The idea behind this model is to help you understand where to focus your energy to help improve your overall wellness.
Experts suggest knowing where to focus may be the most important step in a wellness journey. Once we understand what needs work, it becomes much easier to develop a plan to remedy it.
One piece I read suggested asking yourself the following questions:
- Which of these areas is going best in my life right now? (Recognising where we are doing well will create positive feelings about life in general).
- What area is growing but could be doing better? (Understanding where we have made progress will give us encouragement about overcoming other challenges).
- Most importantly, are there any areas that are in serious need of nourishment? (Recognising where we have needs is essential to developing a strategy to meet them).
After identifying an area that may need attention, positive visualisation can be the first step in a strategy to help address it. Never underestimate the power of a positive mindset.
Taking the time to reflect on the various segments of our lives can help us all work towards achieving our best life and being our best selves. And we all deserve to be our best selves, for our own good as well as for the benefit of those around us. We’re all so much more than enough.
Joan Senio is a mental health blogger who runs My Best Friend Adeline. She is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, godmother, and aunt.