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The Meaning of Wellbeing: 6 Ways to Know What’s Keeping You From Happiness

by Apr 19, 2024

Wellbeing has many meanings: your health, your happiness, your material prosperity, your social connections, and the holistic feeling of thriving in life.

But life is complicated, and it’s not always obvious what could be affecting your life in a negative way.

If you haven’t felt well lately and you’re not sure why, here’s a guide for finding the sources that drain your well-being without you realizing it.

1. Wellbeing Means Not Avoiding Your Commitments

Trying to change for the better is one of the toughest things in the world.

When you make promises to yourself to change your habits, your environments, and your lifestyle, they matter. And when you know you’re avoiding those difficult changes, it starts to weigh on you.

Every time you let an opportunity for change slip, or you avoid a new situation out of fear, or you put off what you know you should be doing, you feel a little further from your goal each time.

Change stops feeling possible the more you avoid what you know you need to do.

Ask yourself: 

  • Are you following through on your commitments to change? 
  • Are you not taking your health seriously?
  • Are you hanging out with the people you said you wouldn’t anymore?
  • Are you taking steps to make meaningful changes, no matter how small?
  • Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable to get where you’re trying to go?

Well-being most often follows an honored self-commitment. 

2. Wellbeing Means Not Letting Go of Real Life Connections

Maybe you’ve heard of the “friendship recession” that’s been occurring in the United States.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon, but we can narrow it down to one of them: It is easier than ever now for people to become stuck in their homebody habits.

Technology has made it simple to work, play, and socialize online, which is miraculous until it starts to degrade the in-person, face-to-face social connections that are the lifeblood of fulfilling relationships.

Even if you’re limited to speaking to someone on the phone, that is worlds better than just texting or, worse, being so immersed in the distraction of technology that you ignore maintaining relationships entirely.

Ask Yourself: 

  • Are you seeing people in real life? 
  • Are you going out of your way to forge memories with people in the real world, to contact and see your loved ones, and to be there when they need you?

Don’t let yourself fall into a pattern of work-distraction-bed-repeat. Make plans. See the people you love and forge real memories so your sense of well-being can flourish.

3. Wellbeing Means Growing as You Progress Through Life

This is not to say that life should just be spent working.

But, a key source of well-being is a sense of personal growth, a feeling of progress toward a meaningful goal or improvement upon a skill.

This often occurs through experiencing adversity, learning new things, creating art, or challenging yourself in new ways.

Ask Yourself: 

  • Are you challenging yourself in any way? 
  • When was the last time you tried something new? 
  • If you’re struggling right now, can you appreciate how strong you are for not giving up?

When life just becomes a series of pleasurable activities, things can start to feel stale. Focus on meaningful growth to boost your well-being.

4. Wellbeing Means Being Right Here

There is a constant temptation to look back into the past or to look ahead to the future.

We’re all capable (and guilty) of dwelling in regrets or dreading “what ifs.” And sometimes, this can be helpful.

The past teaches us what we ought to do in the future, and looking to the future can help us plan or inspire hope in what good things can come our way.

But well-being is always experienced in the immediate moment when you’re fully immersed in life as it is. You don’t have to be a mindfulness meditation master to realize that. 

Ask Yourself: 

  • How often do you think about the past and the future?

This takes practice, but you have to try and shift your focus away from past regrets and future fears. Only use them as far as they’re useful; learn from the past, and plan for a better future. 

All the past is useful for is lessons. What happened is a lesson. Everything can be seen that way. 

The more attention you give the past, the more power you give to something you cannot change. So let it lie, and focus on the present for the sake of your well-being.

5. Wellbeing Means Choosing Authenticity

Would you describe yourself as an authentic person who always says what they mean?

This does not mean having no social etiquette. It means you honor yourself enough to share your real opinions and feelings when it is appropriate to do so (and even when you fear it might not be).

Ask Yourself:

  • How often do you censor yourself?
  • Have you been honest with anyone lately?
  • Do you always favor preserving your connections with others out of fear of sharing your feelings?

Authenticity might be the heart of well-being. If you want to feel better, practice being honest about who you are, what you believe, and how you look at things. After you commit to this, you’ll start finding fulfilling connections.

6. Wellbeing Means Taking the Time to Be

This does not just mean taking time to enjoy a hobby or relax.

This means carving out a small period each day without any stimulation. Just you, alone in your thoughts.

You don’t have to call it meditation, but it could be. It is taking the time to reflect on what you’re doing, where you’re going, what you need, and how you feel.

You can listen to your emotions without judgment and address anything that needs addressing. Call it a moment of Zen, a reflection period, a centering process, or whatever you like.

Ask Yourself: 

  • When was the last time you just sat and thought about your life?
  • When was the last time you showed compassion toward yourself?

Carve out a time for simple reflection, even if it’s just five minutes. Good day or bad, take the time to center yourself without any external stimulation from technology or personal vices. 

When you see how you’re really feeling, you can start getting to the bottom of your pain and, thus, be on the road to cultivating more well-being.

Your Wellbeing Must be Treated Like a Growing Plant

Darkness can sneak up on us. So, let this be an assessment of how your life is going. Examine these metrics:

  • Are you avoiding what you know you have to do to progress in life?
  • Are you favoring a distraction over real-life connections and making meaningful memories?
  • Are you just consuming without creating or contributing? Could you take up something new or dare to chase a new goal?
  • Are you always regretting the past or fearing the future? Are you forgetting that life only occurs in the present?
  • Are you censoring your true personality from the world? Wouldn’t life be better if you lived in an authentic way, even if it’s not what others want?
  • Do you ever sit and reflect on how things are going? Do you give your emotions a chance to be heard and acknowledged?

Address these critical points, and you’ll start to see things get better.