When we think of the term “wellbeing”, concepts such as work-life balance, happiness, friendship, health and wellness come into our mind. After all, isn’t that what life is about? Striving and succeeding in all those areas and more?

When we talk about well-being, my mind immediately goes to defining what well-being means. However, instead of gaining clarity on what well-being means, I became frustrated and demoralised, trying to understand all that well-being encompasses.

I came across many definitions of the term “well-being”. I decided the challenge wasn’t about finding what well-being means but instead looking at the words and definitions people were using to explain well-being.

What is Wellbeing?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) doesn’t actually define wellbeing. Instead, it uses the term as a keyword to describe it: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Google tells me that the Oxford English Dictionary defines well-being as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”. And when you do a google search, you come across digital well-being, physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, student wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, health wellbeing… the list goes on.

Psychology Today defines well-being as:

“the existence of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress. More generally, well-being is just feeling well.”

Should I be looking for how to “feel well”?

But it’s the UK governments definition of wellbeing that I like the most…

“[it’s] about feeling good and functioning well and comprises an individual’s experience of their life; and a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values.”

We are all so different, and each of us interprets the world in different ways, coming to different conclusions that your feeling of well-being will be different to my feeling of well-being.

But the second part is the key… How we interpret our experiences and then compare them with social norms and values can be the part that gets us in trouble. This is the BEING in “well-BEING”.

Putting Your “Being” Into Your Own Personal Well-Being Statement

So, where do we start? Do we start by looking at what makes us “feel” well? Or do we start by looking at how we “function” well? There are several well-being wheels out there that can help us see how things are interconnected — for example, here’s a simple wheel from the UK.

Image: https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/mental-wellbeing/adults/wheel-of-well-being

These wheels help categorise and apply words to define and encompass a “feeling” of well-being and are extremely helpful for organisations putting well-being programs into the workplace. But it must be said that they can also be anxiety-ridden with all the “do’s” to think about to create a life in which you feel well.

In looking at the wheel, we can see that well-being encompasses a whole person’s being, with Body, Mind, and Spirit. It also encompasses our own being in how we interpret and compare OTHERS with People, Place and Planet.

And to be fair, some of us interpret and compare our body, mind and spirit with others, which is where the self-journey comes into play.

So — what’s my point?

What if we didn’t worry so much about overall well-being and instead worked on the “interpreting” and “comparing” happening in our head to feel well?

As humans, we are social creatures. It’s in our DNA to connect with others and to feel a connection. If anything, COVID has shown us that we need each other more than ever.

The whole “people” piece and “social” piece of wellbeing will always be about comparisons and interpretations; after all, that’s what our brain does! It values, compares and interprets everything to keep you safe, provide motivation, and give you the decision making power to choose your behaviour.

What I’m saying is, what if we choose to use the power of interpretation and comparisons to help define and live by our own personal well-being statement that isn’t filled with “achieving” words, categories or actions but instead with “being” words that make us feel well.

By asking questions and defining who YOU are as an individual human being versus who you THINK you are to others takes time, honesty and an ability to sit with yourself and be.

In this observation of us as a being, a self, with feelings, a body, spirituality, our relationship with people, places and the overall planet where we will find our own personal well-being. Using our interpretations and comparisons with our values, purpose, and meanings to define who we are as human beings is the foundation for finding, defining, and stating what well-being means to you.

My Definition of Wellbeing

A personal state of physically feeling good, having mental stability and supportive social connections to feel prosperous and grateful obtained from my internal values and driven by a sense of meaning or purpose, flexible thinking and acceptance. — Beth E. Lee

What’s yours?

Go Get ‘Em!


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