The World Health Organisation defines Wellbeing as:
A state of mind in which an individual is able to realise his or her own abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Wellbeing is the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively. It includes the experience of negative emotions and managing them successfully. (Huppert, 2011), Director of Cambrige University Wellbeing Centre. It does not mean some blissful and unattainable state where we never experiences setbacks or negative events.
We are all unique and handle life stressors in different ways, think of thimbles, mugs or buckets, how much strain our personal container can take and how we cope is dependent on many things including our previous life experiences, our attitudes and choices. Life is not perfect for everyone, challenges or suffering as the buddists refer to it comes to everyone at some point, it is an unavoidable fact of life, in both an existential and practical way. While we can all be thrown into a spin and feel negative emotions at such times, we need to dig deep and find the resilience to bounce back and find meaning in the challenge. There are some practical and philosophical lenses we can use to view and manage setbacks when faced with such moments.
10 Tips from The Science of Wellbeing
1. Stay connected, relationships are key, we are wired for social interaction, reach out. Give to others as well as take. Be kind in your relationships, kindness is good for us. Look for friendships and relationships that support you being your best. Try not to isolate yourself.
2. Have a sense of purpose, think about what you want for your life, focus on what feels good on the inside or what might feel good on the inside rather than what looks good on the outside. This is what the psychologist Julian Rotter referred to as an internal locus of control. Set goals that are meaningful for you, in your career, relationships, health, finances etc. Living to other people’s standards or goals is a sure fire way to being miserable.
3. Build healthy habits, eating, sleeping, exercising for 30 minutes a day, making time for yourself, manage your social media exposure time and using harmful substances as as avoidance of other issues. Mediate, write, reflect, be still as opposed to constant business. Remember your body supports your every action, thought and feeling. Treat it with care in order to generate and access the best thoughts and feelings.
4. Believe in yourself, say yes, I can. Focus on your strengths and abilities, what do the people who know and love you best say...they see your strenghts. For challenges that you have not yet mastered say I am NOT YET good at…..then set a goal and work on that if it is something that is important to you. Move away from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Micro steps are fine, whatever you can do that is better than you did yesterday is good enough....after a period of time it will move the dial of your capability considerable.
5. Laugh Often. A SMILE IS THE SHORTEST DISTANCE BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE. (V. Borge). Neuroscience has demonstrated that humor is good for our mental and physical health. It changes our brain biology and accesses the feel good centres that help lift our mood.
6. Express your emotions, make sure you have outlets to healthily express your emotions and release tension. Keeping stressful or worrying things to ourselves in the long term is not good for our mental or physical health. Find a professional to talk to if that feels safer. Remember we all have negative emotions, they are not good or bad rather a call for us to notice them and to take positive action.
7. Turn up the volume on Optimism, a positive, hopeful outlook makes us much more resilient in the face of adversity and setbacks. Life throws us all challenges. Research shows that optimists live longer, have healthier relationships, are more motivated, creative and better problem solvers. This does not mean adopting a Pollyanna approach of fake posititivity but rather adopting a realistic appraisal that keeps a hold on hope and moves us to take action.
8. Keep Perspective, this too shall pass, focus on what you can control about the situation, view setbacks as temporary. Minimise the drama, avoid adding to or exaggerating the setback. Look at the facts of the situation as you try to solve the problem.
9. Be Imperfect, accept and work with your flaws and imperfections – everyone has them! Be true to yourself and aim to do your best. Judge yourself only against the you of yesterday and not someone else.
10. Learn lessons from everything. Seek to be a learner in life, learn new things, new skills, look at what worked, what can you learn?, what didn’t work, what can you learn? Learn to get even a little better at each of the other 9 tips here and your wellbeing will improve! learn something every day.
Finally remember action is key so just thinking in your head about what you know you might need to do, doesn't move you closer to a different outcome, only action does that...take an action and you are heading in the right direction.