What is a good life anyway? We read everywhere that it is about money, fame and happiness – if we believe the media and the world of self-help. But is this really the case? Well, it turns out that it’s not.
Once we get that new job promotion, that new car, new house we believe we will be happier, and live a better life. Well, this isn’t quite true – we get that new car and we enjoy it but then very shortly we habituate back to our old level of well-being. It’s called habituation. Or we keep moving the bench mark to get more. Scientific research tells us once you meet your basic needs, more money and stuff does not increase our well-being. You may in fact, be sacrificing well-being for money. Well-being is actually less about how much you earn but rather how you spend your money. Experiences and services that move you emotionally are more important. So, buy experiences, like a trip with your friends, over things.
Also, our aim is not non-stop happiness. Think of happiness as a moment in time – a snap shot. Well-being exists over time and at times it doesn’t always make us happy. There are ups and downs to life. It’s like a 10K run. The training sometimes hurts. We will fail if we are always looking for happiness. It is not possible. Life is not always easy. You need some adversity. We need this for growth.
Well-being has been researched by leading researchers worldwide. It can be separated into a few important categories.
- Vitality: This category means optimizing your body and mind. They are completely connected. They are a feedback loop. They feed into each other. They are two parts of the same. Increase your muscles will feed back onto your mind. It means moving eating, sleeping and awareness training to maximize your energy and vitality.
- Connection: We are wired for socialization. We are part of something bigger than yourself. We have a better life when we have connection with other people. Sadly, loneliness is equal to 15 cigarettes a day. Texting doesn’t equate to face to face connection.
- Engagement: We need growth. It won’t always be perfect or easy but we need this. How do you contribute to the world? The more we can be in a flow state the better.
- Meaning: This category is about the purpose that we create for ourselves and the transcendence that we feel between ourselves and the world around us. This is ultimately impacted by the coherence of our stories.
- Positive Emotion: This means feeling good, and encompasses both pleasure and enjoyment. This includes a sense of accomplishment, success and mastery beyond meaning and engagement.
We need to think about these elements of well-being on a regular basis – daily, weekly and yearly. You need to focus our lives on these well-being elements. So, let’s figure out what matters to you and take intentional action steps to increasing your well-being.