In this Blog, I look at different descriptions to define to the word well-being: The Oxford dictionary says that well-being is: The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. The Cambridge dictionary’s definition is similar:The state of feeling healthy and happy. The only difference is that the first describes ones state of being, and the other describes the feeling. But these are too descriptive to be definitions.
In the Collins dictionary, it says:The condition of being contented, healthy, or successful; welfare; which is similar to the Merriam-Webster’s definition: The state of being happy, healthy, or successful. It looks like the British dictionaries are focused on the psychological aspects of well-being, and the American dictionaries include external factors – ‘success and welfare’ can also refer to things like wealth and fame,and synonyms of well-being are: welfare, health, good health, happiness, comfort, security, safety, protection, prosperity, profit, good, success, fortune, advantage, interest, prosperousness and successfulness.
It is evident that well-being is expressed with a collection of words rather than a clear definition. But the common words seem to be; happy, healthy, and successful. In my eyes, well-being should not depend on the state of health, happiness and success, or just a feeling of healthy, happy and comfort. These states can vary, and can sometimes be impossible. People facing circumstances such as illness, going through an injury, loss of their job, or loss of loved ones may not be happy or healthy, but they should still be able to find well-being.
Well-being is valuable even in these circumstances. Well-being, in fact, can be a way of getting through these challenges that life gives us.
Giving us the ability and courage to embrace opportunities as they arise. I believe the dictionary explanations are not sufficient enough. I would like to use ‘well-being’ to mean: a state of mind and being that supports us in overcoming challenges and embracing opportunities. Well-being influences us and allows us to change ourselves to become happier, healthier, and more successful.
In my first book, I am pulling these two words apart in well-being ‘well’ and ‘being.’The word ‘well’ is very self-explanatory, however the word ‘being’ has many synonyms such as: existence, living, life, animation, aliveness, reality, actuality, essential nature, lifeblood, vital force and entity. Additionally,the word ‘being’ opens up to other synonyms such as soul, spirit, nature, essence, substance, entity, inner being, inner self and psyche. Now there is much more meaning to work with than just taking the word ‘well-being’ on its own. The word ‘being’ has a much deeper meaning, about existence and life including the deeper self with psychological and spiritual dimensions.
So I am using BEING as an acronym in which the letters originally meant B for breathing, E for engaging, I for inspiring, N for nourishing and G for growing. To me, this word means being human in the here and now, independent of our state of happiness, health or wealth. The focus therefore should be on looking after certain aspects of our BEING and I have hyphenated well-being throughout the book, to remember that it is made up of two important components. I conclude that the focus should be on the BEING well so well-being is the result. Taking care of the BEING is essential as the human BEING craves certain basic things. We cannot compromise on things such as oxygen, water and sleep. This is how the more in-depth five themes have been generated to enhance the BEING. The key question is what resources does our BEING crave need what are these needs? How best can we look after them? I would like to refer to the following definition that can be applied universally, regardless of age, culture or gender:
“Wellbeing is not a beach you go and lie on. It’s a sort of dynamic dance and there’s movement in that all the time and actually it’s the functionality of that movement which actually is true levels of wellbeing.” (Marks cited by Dodge et al., 2012)
We need to take responsibilities and cannot just sit back and do nothing about it; just assuming this will fix all the issues and delay them to the next holiday. It is an act and responsibility we need to take on a daily basis. What if the holiday does not turn out as planned for various reasons are we left with no gain?
Well-being in this book will be highlighted in an approach to managing and utilising resources to deal with challenges as best as we can; consistently and sustainably throughout the day and the journey of one’s life. To do this, I believe we need understand what we can influence, what we can change, what we cannot change and understand the difference which originally comes from Reinhold Niebuhr, American Theologian;
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Knowing available support and resources will determine where to spend most of our effort and energies. These can manifest in physical, mental and social, however I also see them also as spiritual and in particular all their interactions with one another that we should be more aware of. The next topic of my next blog will be about Awareness.
Dodge, R., Daly, A., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L. (2012). The challenge of defining well-being. International Journal of Well-being, 2(3), pp 222-235.