What is well-being?

We have covered that the Human Condition allows us to have experiences within consciousness, our only true possession. I have also said that everyone is going about the same project, albeit in various and frenetic ways, to improve their well-being. The trouble is, most of us don’t know what outcome we seek.

Everyone has a sense that things could be better, motivating movement away from the current state toward some hazy destination where we will be relieved of tension, finding peace and tranquility. This destination, of course, is a mirage. But do not be discouraged. Greater understanding is needed.

Well-being is not a thing that you get. It is something that you experience. This is why it is not a place where we arrive, so much as something that washes over us from time to time. To optimize well-being we need to design our lives in a way that positions us to capture more experiences of it.

The components of well-being help to underscore my point. Coming from the positive psychology world these include positive emotions, engagement (when you apply your strengths to something you care about), positive relationships, meaning (or purpose), and accomplishment. These are the things we are trying to capture in our experiences.

Take some time to reflect on the components of well-being. Consider how the different aspects of your life, and the stories you tell yourself about them, include them or not. Keep following and we will continue to explore how to optimize well-being.

Be well.

Experience is your only possession

Your only true possession is your human experience. It is the only thing that cannot be taken from you. Everything outside of you exists merely because you experience it. This experience is uniquely your own. It will never be entirely accessible to another, nor theirs to you.

Understanding this simplifies matters. For to optimize well-being, all you must do is design a life that allows you to experience more of it. Easily stated, but hard-won.

The next inquiry necessarily becomes, then, how to define experience. Experience is fluid, refreshing itself as each moment arises. It is fully formed by your feelings and stories. This combination of feelings and narrative characterizes your life.

Fortunately, your stories can be edited and your feelings can be challenged, allowing you to shape your future experiences. Being aware of this is a critical step on the path to well-being.

The Vacation Fallacy – Part 2

In wonderfully coincident timing, the Farnam Street Blog recently published a piece (click here) on how to think about your travel experiences. Their thesis aligns with mine (confirmation bias alert) in that vacation should be used as an opportunity to experience the diversity of the world and promote different perspectives. In keeping with their theme of mental models, they propose two ways of thinking:

1) Algebraic equivalence – realizing that different approaches can sum to the same value. Different cultures may have different definitions for things you take for granted. For example, some cultures place less emphasis on working life than we do in Canada. They may feel that other factors are more important to lead the meaningful and successful life we all seek. Experiencing this can be powerful enough to make you re-evaluate your own relationship with work and the meaning it creates for you.

2) Galilean Relativity – altering your point of reference, allowing you to make new observations. By getting outside of your routine environment, you are bound to notice new things about how societies, nature, transit, etc., operate. Gaining new perspectives and insights is one of the highlights of the travel experience.

They conclude their article with a few recommendations to help us get the most out of travel. These include journaling, not over-planning, deliberate goal setting, and having a growth mindset. All great advice! I encourage you to check it out.