Five Elements of Well Being
I read a great book recently by Tom Rath called, "Well Being: The five essential elements." The book's first sentence starts by saying, "much of what we think will improve our well being is misguided or just plain wrong." Our well being is not based on happiness alone, nor our wealth, success, family or health. Most of us have already ditched our New Year's Resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, whatever...certainly focusing on one area of wellbeing can cause burnout, frustration and ultimately failure. Mr. Rather points out that the critical areas of our lives are interdependent. He says, "wellbeing is about the combination of the love for what we do each day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health, and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities. Most importantly it's how these five elements interact."
Let’s break down the five:
Do you enjoy how you spend your time each day? Doesn't matter if your working, retired, parent or volunteer. Do you look forward to each day? Or just Friday at 5? Do your waking hours focus on your strengths and passions or are you too busy doing what your paid to do that you have no time for what's important? I see both extremes with our clients at Trott Brook. There are those that have their retirement date circled on the calendar, they are counting down the days (or years) like seconds to a rocket launch. Their day job is unfulfilling and brings very little happiness (wellbeing). They are counting on retirement to be their rebirth. Finally, the opportunity to do what makes them happy. Then there are others who have no desire to stop what they are currently doing. They jump out of bed excited to start their day. People with high career well being are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall.
Data suggests that to have a thriving day we need six hours of social time. Each hour of social time quickly decreases the odds of having a bad day. Those with high Social Wellbeing deliberately spend time investing in their social networks. As the popularity of Facebook and LinkedIn have grown, so has our ability to expand and strengthen our social (and business) network. How many people are you connecting with, or socializing with today via social media that you never would without it? Of course, 500 "friends" does not guarantee a thriving social wellbeing, but it's a good start!
We've all heard that money can't buy happiness and studies show that the amount of money you have is not the best gauge of your Financial Wellbeing, let alone your life in general. However, money can increase short-term happiness by giving us more control over how we spend our time. Research from Harvard has found that spending on oneself does not boost wellbeing, but spending money on others does--and it appears to be as important to people's happiness as the total amount of money they make. As the Bible says, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). If you'd like to try and buy happiness, focus your spending on experiences and memories, rather than material items for yourself. Experiences last while material purchases fade. Income, debt and net worth are some of the common metrics used to evaluate financial health. Yet people with thriving Financial Wellbeing strive for a general sense of security, a life without worry, rather than absolute measures of wealth.
The majority of us do not get enough exercise. In fact, among 400,000 Americans surveyed, only 27% get the recommended 30 minutes of more or exercise five days per week. People who exercise at least two days a week are happier and have significantly less stress. One of the primary reasons people exercise regularly is because if makes them fell better about themselves and their appearance, and it boosts confidence. Would you believe that roughly one quarter of the world's population has physical pain on a daily basis and health problems that keep them from doing things that other people their age normally can do? This equates to 1.5 billion people who are not doing what they want to do because of their physical wellbeing. People with thriving Physical Wellbeing look better, feel better and will live longer.
This starts with life's basics: clean water, ample food, clean air, adequate shelter, a sense of physical security. Millions of people never reach this level of community wellbeing. Do you live in an area that is a good fit for your personality, family, interests and other pursuits? Lastly, the pinnacle of community wellbeing is what we do to give back to our community. This may be what differentiates an exceptional life from a good one. Those with high community wellbeing have identified areas where they can contribute to their community based on their own strengths and passions. They share with others their interests and their involvement. They bring people together to support a common cause. They volunteer their time and donate their money to make their community, and ultimately the world, a better place.
While 66% of people are doing well in at least on of these areas, sadly, only 7% of us are thriving in all five areas of wellbeing. How are you doing? Are you surviving or thriving? While Trott Brook's specialty is enhancing your financial wellbeing, we recognize that finances are only one-fifth of the equation. I hope you are part of the 7% that are clicking on all five cylinders. If we can help you get there, please let us know.
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