For most of the history of mankind, our personal well-being was mostly about addressing basic physical needs (food, water, shelter, and clothing). Up until the late 19th century, hard work was the recipe for achieving a good life. Industrialization brought efficiencies in the early 20th century that began to enable people to spend less of their waking hours trying to achieve basic physical needs. It is also when it became more complicated.
The study of human psychology has also evolved with the emergence of Positive Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience and Behavioral Economics that offers us insight into our modern day definitions personal well-being. Assuming we are not impaired by anxiety and stress in achieving our basic physical needs of money, control, health and safety, we are motivated by the following components of personal well-being:
Purpose and Meaning
Being a part of making something of meaning happen. Millions of people earn a modest income sacrificing lucrative salaries for the opportunity to make differences in people’s lives. We put careers and finances on hold to raise families, send kids to college or create businesses. We try to find purpose in tragedies by dedicating our lives to preventing others from experiencing the same feeling and giving more meaning to the loved ones we lost.
Love and Connection
Through meaningful relationships and by being valued. We drop everything in our lives for those we love. We sacrifice job opportunities and the pursuits of passion to spend time to be with our families. We get married to people that requires moving to a new community and leaving friends and loved ones behind. Connection is what we feel when we can express ourselves with little explanation. It is seeing understanding in the eyes of your confidant that is listening.
Competence and Success
We put our lives on hold to train, compete and win (Olympics, ironman) for the reward of feeling competent and successful. Entrepreneurs and scientists are relentless in the pursuit of solving a problem or making a discovery that is more about success than a financial reward. We purchase luxury cars and expensive homes as a symbol to ourselves and others that we are a success. Yes, we regretfully play video games till 2am to beat our high score or speed up to not let people pass us in the next lane.
Personal Well-Being is not about happiness which can be influenced by a cheerful mood, pleasure, frustration or the events of the day. Nor is it about positive thinking. While Positive Psychology includes positive emotions and passion engagement as components of a good life, they are likely related to purpose & meaning, love and connection, and competence and success. Even the pursuit of money and the purchase of an expensive car can be attributed to the feeling of competence & success. Just like becoming a parent is not about money, it is a great source of each major component of personal well-being which is more important than money.
Our modern day has made it challenging to achieve our desired definition of personal well-being. Collaborations and eDream Pursuits can help you get there.