“[There are five] universal elements of wellbeing that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering” -Rath and Harter, Well Being: The Five Essential Elements.
In preparation for my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) I have been doing a lot of reading up on different theories of health and wellbeing. While I love yoga, I don’t want to make the mistake of thinking the Yogic/Ayurvedic way is the only way to health. After all, isn’t that the mistake I already made with the Western medical system?
As someone who has been ill and hopes to help others who are currently ill, it can be easy to focus on different treatments and cures. However, I think that overlooks a huge part of our health- our overall wellbeing. Being physically well is not, in itself, a recipe for health and happiness. It is our overall wellbeing that defines the quality of our lives.
Tom Rath and Jim Harter, in their book Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, highlight career satisfaction, financial stability, physical well being, social well being, and community well being as the five key elements that measure our life satisfaction. They are all interconnected but can also be measured separately. The most important thing about these factors is that they are all “aspects of our lives that we can do something about” (Rath and Harter). Whatever your genetic or nurtured environment, you can increase these aspects of your wellbeing- and it’s not as hard as it looks.
Career wellbeing doesn’t mean we all need to work in corporate offices with foozball tables and high pay, nor does it mean we all need to work for organizations that aim to end poverty or war. It simply refers to how you occupy your time. If you are unable to work a “normal” job for health or other reasons (such as raising children) career wellbeing simply refers to how you occupy your time. Do you sit in front of the TV all day? Or are you volunteering for a few hours? Running a blog? Writing the next twilight novel?
While the five elements of wellbeing may seem unattainable to those already living with chronic illness, you would be surprised at the changes you can make, and the effect they will have on your overall wellbeing – even reducing the symptoms of illness, and aiding in a quicker recovery.
To learn more about wellbeing, visit www.wbfinder.com
How would you rate your wellbeing in each of the five areas?
How has illness affected this?
Which areas can you improve on, even if your physical health does not change?