Well-being: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
When a person tells us they are not feeling well, that statement could have many meanings. I would ask for clarification. Are they not feeling well mentally, physically, spiritually or holistically? Maybe they have a toothache or just feeling down that day. Whatever the reason may be there are many things that can effect a persons overall sense of well-being.
Aristotle once said “Men generally agree that the highest good attainable by action is happiness, and identify living well and doing well with happiness.” In that statement Aristotle conveyed his thoughts about mans constant search for the sense of well-being. Science tells us that well-being is not only a person’s ability to experience good feelings but also to experience a sense of individual vitality as well as activities which are meaningful, engaging, and make them feel capable and independent along with inner resources to aid them when things go astray and be flexible to changes outside their immediate control.
There are two different types of well-being: cognitive and affective. Cognitive well-being is how one determines there own sense of well-being based on environmental and societal influences. Affective well-being is the different levels of well-being a person feels as a result of the cognitive factors. These levels are as follows: high negative affect, low negative affect, high positive affect and low positive affect.
High negative affect is characterized by feelings of anxiety or hostility; a low negative affect is characterized by calmness and relaxation; a high positive affect is characterized by a state of pleasing arousal and enthusiasm and low positive affect is characterized by a state of unpleasantness and low arousal (dull, sluggish)”
So, the question is, how do you achieve your own sense of well being. What makes you feel comfortable, healthy and happy? For some this means being financially independent, some experience a sense of well-being when they feel loved, others find well being when they are physically fit, many need all of the above or or a combination of other factors to achieve a sense of well-being.
You may be asking yourself “How do I achieve a sense of well-being in my life?” The answer is: it depends. It depends on how willing you are to adopt certain behaviors that are known to help cultivate a persons sense of well-being. There are ten behaviors which, if adopted by oneself, tend to have the greatest success of helping a person achieve a higher state of happiness or well-being. These behaviors are as follows:
1. Focus beyond self and perform random acts of kindness.
2. Don’t compare yourself to media stars and personalities.
3. Stop and think: Maybe there is meaning in life after all.
4. Join a “movement” movement. A sound mind resides in a sound body.
5. Give priority to close relationships, it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts.
6. Look for new ways to do something usual to keep from being bored.
7. Consciously choose your activities rather than going with the flow.
8. Treat yourself to a special day and savor the experience.
9. Practice gratitude and stop occasionally to “count your blessings”.
10. Always see the glass half full instead of half empty.
Consider these behaviors to be the ten commandments of well-being. If you adhere to them you will be a much happier person.
We have become a society of selfishness in which people are so focused on themselves that they practically implode due to being totally self centered as opposed to seeking out others needs and desires. That same self centered obsession creates an empty vessel inside of a person because one cannot fill an empty void with a single minded pursuit of self interests while ignoring the needs and feelings of others. We are sociable creatures by nature and denying that natural inclination can only cause despair. It’s no wonder that anti-depressants and other mood stabilizing drugs are prescribed more now than ever before. People are attempting to find a sense of well being thru pharmaceuticals rather than looking outward instead of inside themselves.
Notice that number one of the ten behaviors listed above is ” Focus beyond self and perform random acts of kindness.” Look around and you can see the success of different programs and activities that create a sense of community. Take crossfit for example. Part of Crossfits huge success is its community. People have a need to belong to something, to be a part of something, to feel special. This feeling on its own creates a sense of well being and then throw in the exercise, good nutritional habits, support and positive attitude that Crossfit promotes and you have the ideal recipe for promoting a sense of well being.
Of course there are other community’s to become a part of. Studies show that people who belong to a church and attend on a regular basis are more likely to be happier than those who do not. Again being a part of a community prevails at encouraging happiness and well-being.
Let’s talk about food. What does food have to do with well-being? Let me be more specific. What does our stomach have to do with well-being? The truth is the stomach is responsible for a lot.
Scientists actually discovered a network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive that they have nicknamed it our “second brain”. This network of neurons is better known or enteric nervous system. Have you ever experienced “butterflies” in your stomach during a ride on that roller coaster at the fair? Congratulations! You have experienced your “second brain”.
It’s no wonder that the food we take into our bodies would have such a dramatic affect on our sense of well-being. Today with the prevalence of over processed foods, genetic freaks for livestock and produce as well as fast food restaurants distributing artificial sustenance to the masses, our digestive systems are constantly inundated with elements that it was never intended to consume. The fact that the health of the gut is so critical to mental health is supported by a multitude of studies.
If you are looking to find your own sense of well-being in life there are several ways to find it but not every way is the same for everybody. It seems that the simpler life is the easier it is to achieve a sense of well-being. On the other hand selfish and lofty pursuits tend to complicate life and cause stress. Eating junk food will make you sick mentally and physically. Eating simple healthy food will make you healthy mentally and physically. Look at the label on those frozen hot pockets and you’ll see a complicated list of ingredients and additives. Look at that label on that fresh spinach and how many ingredients do you see? Look on the label of that grass feed beef and what do you see? The answer is one, one main ingredient for each. What you see ifs what you get! Eating well is very simple and easy.
So now you have began a journey to find happiness and a sense of well being. I’m sure you will find that once you stop looking for your own well-being and start helping others find it, respecting the body that serves as vessels for guts, brains and souls, you will discover that your journey is over and your sense of well-being has begun.