Health Wise: How Do We Define and Achieve Mental Well-Being?

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 01/31/2018 - 15:23

I hope you had a chance to check out my last couple posts about happiness and that you found them interesting (if you didn't read them, click on my name or search Health Wise in Saline Post). I talked about common misconceptions about happiness as well as attempts at defining happiness/well-being. Now, I'd like to share with you an approach that brings us a little closer to figuring out what this whole “well-being” thing is all about.

We’ve come to believe that mental well-being is just as important as physical well-being. We can be in perfect physical health, yet not feel satisfied with life. We also know that mental stress can negatively impact out physical well-being in the long run (e.g. stress shutting down out bodies). So how, then, do we achieve mental well-being?

Positive psychology is an entire field of study devoted to figuring out this important question. A big name in the field, Martin Seligman, brought us a model called PERMA, which separates well-being into 5 domains, expanding on and going beyond the categories we mentioned in our last email (subjective happiness vs. well-being/fulfillment).

The PERMA model looks a bit like this:

  1. Positive Emotion- our basic definition of happiness, experiencing good feelings
  2. Engagement- being “in the flow”, completely absorbed and “at one” with a task at hand
  3. Relationships- social support and connections
  4. Meaning- doing things that feel important to you, whether the goal is self-improvement or helping others
  5. Accomplishment- attaining goals, mastering skills, and achieving “success”, whatever that means to each of us

Take a look at each of these domains and see how each one is going in your life (or ask your significant others to give this a try). What are you doing within each of these areas? What’s missing that would make you feel “fulfilled” in each domain?

To further help you along your journey to fulfillment, I suggest doing the following activity:

  1. Make a list of things that currently feed each of these areas in your life
  2. Rate your satisfaction in each area (0= completely dissatisfied, 10= completely satisfied)
  3. List goals for enhancing each area

Hopefully, this sheds a little more light on the muddy topic of happiness/well-being and gives you a jump-start on exploring subjective happiness. As you’re doing this, remember, there is no one path to happiness, and its true, fulfillment isn’t about reaching a particular goal but its all about the journey!

As always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!

Maria Karimova MS LLP's picture