Could wellbeing be one of the most overused terms at the moment? Everywhere I look these days; there it seems to be right there in front me. Thrown around by creative advertisers marketing the latest product or service to get you well… Don’t get me wrong, as a strong supporter of this latest self-help craze, I would love nothing more than for everyone to achieve a sense of wellbeing for themselves. But a series of meditation workshops, a couple of green smoothies and a bucket load of vitamins isn’t going to increase your levels of wellbeing. Yes of course they may improve your sense of being-well but that’s about it. And that leads to my biggest gripe with this current trend, the tendency to mix the two terms wellbeing and wellness.
Unfortunately, this is mostly due to our constant encounter with self-help books and social media posts that use the terms interchangeably and therefore incorrectly. And, it also may have something to do with the fact that there are still questions around how wellbeing is defined. In the past, it was thought of as a lack of illness or disease as in you are healthy and well, or you are not. Simple right? And that’s another large part of the problem. Wellbeing is often oversimplified. And it is anything but simple.
Today, wellbeing is described by many researchers and doctors as the absence of illness plus the presence of positive qualities in one’s life. This more recent thinking can be traced back to Aristotle’s belief that humans have an inner desire to realise one’s potential in the pursuit of happiness. For my simple self, I see wellbeing as looking at the whole of a person, being-well in all aspects including physical, mental, social, emotional etc. as well as having a sense of connection and purpose in life. Versus wellness, which I believe looks predominately at one’s physical health.
Future blogs will explore this complex concept in more detail including frameworks that can be used to achieve wellbeing, which are backed up by extensive research and proof points.
My hope for the field is to increase everyone’s understanding of what wellbeing is, so it can be a much more realistic goal to aim for. Because this isn’t just a passing fad fuelled by pop psychology. This trend to being-well is here to stay, hopefully just as long as the green smoothies!