What Well-Being Means to Us (Podcast)

Welcome to the Leadership Vision Podcast, where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a Strengths-Based approach to people, teams, and culture.

Today on the Podcast, Sara and I dive deeper into the topic of well-being. In addition to sharing our personal thoughts about well-being, we also share and discuss thoughts about well-being from each of our team members. I recorded each of their thoughts recently and today, we’ll play those for you and share what stands out.

As I mentioned last week when I asked you to reflect on your own definition of well-being, there really isn’t one right or wrong answer. It’s all about what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. But, to offer a few other perspectives, here’s are a few additional resources.

What is Well-Being?

I’ve spent some time digging into this idea of well-being, both for my own personal benefit, as well as having something to share with all of you. I found a plethora of definitions and ways to measure well-being. Below are just three ways you can look at this very broad topic. These are some that really resonated with me and aren’t intended to be the definitive answers. Perhaps just some additional ideas you hadn’t considered.

5 Areas of Well-Being from Tom Rath

In 2010, I read the book “Wellbeing” by Tom Rath, almost as soon as it came out. You may know Rath’s work from, among other things, the wildly popular StrengthsFinder 2.0. In Wellbeing Rath outlines five essential elements for well-being:

  • Career Well-being – what you do for work
  • Social Well-being – your friends and social circles
  • Financial Well-being – everything related to money
  • Physical Well-being – your body, food, sleep, and exercise
  • Community Well-being – the physical place where you live and work (your neighborhood and surrounding community)

There are a plethora of tips in the book about how you can increase each of these areas. It also includes a self-assessment to gauge where you fall, and then retake it after making some adjustments. I really like this approach to well-being (note that he spells it without the hyphen, but everyone else includes the hyphen), for its practical suggestions to boost well-being in these five areas.

The Centers for Disease Control

I stumbled across this definition from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which got me thinking about how we can use well-being as a way to look at larger societal trends. According to the CDC,

Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and for many sectors of society because it tells us that people perceive that their lives are going well.


Further down in the article, they go on to talk about how well-being integrates both the mind and body, and how both of those elements are necessary in looking at ways to prevent disease. In other words, the higher level of well-being a person has, the less likely they are to get some life altering disease. And also, it speaks to how each of our own individuals states of well-being has an impact on those we are closest with.

A Sense of Meaning and Purpose

The final definition I found was from Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. and founder of the Berkely Well-Being institute. She says,

Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and the ability to manage stress.

Tchiki Davis

The words, “…a sense of meaning or purpose…” is what caught my attention. As you’ll hear in the podcast, Sara and I discuss this as it related to the other definitions. It’s one thing to have high levels of well-being in five essential areas, but if you don’t have a sense of purpose in your life, what’s the point? And meaning or purpose is much, much harder to measure.

Again, these three sources are mere glimpses into the vast amount of research done around well-being. Remember, we want you to consider what well-being means to YOU, then figure out how to get more of it!

Can you Improve your Well-Being?

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index actually looks at the “physical and emotional health of people in all 50 states.” To do this they examine several things:

  • Life evaluation (are you thriving, struggling, or suffering?)
  • Emotional health (such as happiness, worry, being treated with respect, stress)
  • Work environment (such as job satisfaction or supervisor’s treatment)
  • Physical health (such as obesity, feeling well-rested, sickness)
  • Healthy behaviors (such as not smoking, eating healthy food, exercising frequently)
  • Basic access (such as to clean water, medicine, enough money for food, shelter, healthcare)

But does knowing this matter? Can you change or improve your overall well-being “stats?” In short, yes, we can change our physical and emotional health. According to Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, we have control of about 40% of what impacts our well-being, and only about 10% is connected to what he calls “good and bad fortune.” He says that, “It’s not mostly events, but our responses to events, that determines our level of well-being.” In other words, we have some sense of choice in the matter.

The article offers these suggestions as to how we can increase our levels of well-being:

  1. Live in the moment. When you’re fully engaged in activities, you will enjoy them more and be less preoccupied by concerns about the past and the future.
  2. Be grateful. Keeping a daily gratitude journal promotes positive feelings, optimism, life satisfaction, and connectedness with others.
  3. Do things for others. Happiness comes most reliably from connecting with others and not being overly self-focused. Try to do things that benefit someone or something other than yourself.
  4. Take inventory of your strengths, then apply them in new ways in your daily life. This one, as you can imagine, is one we’re particularly fond of!!! For example, if you count curiosity as a strength, read about a new subject. If you consider yourself brave, try something that makes you nervous, such as public speaking.
  5. Savor pleasure. Reminisce about good times, celebrate good moments with others, be happy when you accomplish something.

Your Well-Being

So what about you? Did you answer our question from this podcast on well-being? What does a healthy, happy YOU look like, feel like, and sound like? We’d love to hear your reflections, so please leave us a comment below or hop on social media and share.

About The Leadership Vision Podcast

The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Please contact us if you have ANY questions about anything you heard in this episode or if you’d like to talk to us about helping your team understand the power of Strengths.

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