Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wellbeing Part I

A few months ago I was given a copy of the book Wellbeing – The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter[1]. In this book Rath and Harter look at the five essential elements that shape our lives: Career Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing and Community Wellbeing.


Wellbeing is defined as a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness and prosperity.[2] I would imagine there are few people in the world who would not want to strive to be in a state of health, happiness and prosperity. This book intrigued me because while “being in a state of health, happiness and prosperity” can seem somewhat ambiguous, this book uses research and common sense in helping us define exactly what wellbeing is and how to achieve it. Granted, no two people will define what health, happiness and prosperity are the same way, but the authors, using research from across 150 countries; give the reader a great starting point to defining and finding their own wellbeing.


In the introduction to the book the authors say “Wellbeing is about the combination of our love for what we do each day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health, and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities.”


In today’s newsletter we will explore the areas of career, physical, social and community wellbeing then dig deeper next Friday into the area of Financial Wellbeing. Most of this next section will come directly from the book.


Career Wellbeing – liking what you do every day


“People with high Career Wellbeing wake up every morning with something to look forward to doing that day. They also have the opportunity to do things that fit their strengths and interests. They have a deep purpose in life and a plan to attain their goals. In most cases, they have a leader who motivates them and friends who share their passion.”


Social Wellbeing – having strong relationships and love in your life


“People with high Social Wellbeing have several close relationships that help them achieve, enjoy life, and be healthy. They are surrounded by people who encourage their development and growth, accept them for who they are, and treat them with respect. They deliberately spend time investing in the networks that surround them.”


Physical Wellbeing – having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis


“People with high Physical Wellbeing manage their health well. They exercise regularly, and as a result, they feel better. They make good dietary choices, which keeps their energy high throughout the day and sharpens their thinking. They get enough sleep to process what they have learned the day before and to get a good start on the next day.”


Community Wellbeing – the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live


“People with high Community Wellbeing feel safe and secure where they live. They take pride in their community and feel that it’s headed in the right direction. This often results in their wanting to give back and make a lasting contribution to society. These people have identified the areas where they can contribute based on their own strengths and passions, and they tell others about those interests to connect with the right groups and causes.”


As you start to think about the process of wellbeing in your own life it helps to sit down and think about what the best possible future is for you, and what your ideal would look like in each of these five areas. The authors found that 66% of people are doing well in at least one area, but just 7% are thriving in all five. How about your own life? How would you assess how you are doing in each area?


[1] Published by Gallup Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-59562-040-8



Ryan H. Law, M.S., AFC

Department of Personal Financial Planning

Office for Financial Success Director

University of Missouri Center on Economic Education Director


239E Stanley Hall

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO 65211


573.882.9211 (office)

573.884.8389 (fax)


[1] Published by Gallup Press, 2010 ISBN: 978-1-59562-040-8

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