Well-being depends on context

When asked to evaluate your well-being, your mind will naturally focus on only a few aspects of your life. It is an impossible task to assess the totality of your experiences to date, arriving at some value representing the whole. By focusing on one or a couple of things, your mind is trying to define the context within which well-being can be tested.

This makes sense because as you go about your day, moving from home to outside, from work to family life, the immediate environment, and your role in it, changes. And you feel these changes. Everyone knows the feeling of relief you experience after leaving a hard day at work or school, anticipating a chance to relax at home.

The important concept here is that well-being depends on context. And every context boils down to one of two things: being or doing. Fortunately these align perfectly with the only two things we control, our thoughts and actions, but we will explore that at a later time.

The best way to think about being is what you perceive to be your role or identity in a given situation; child, sibling, parent, friend, colleague, professional, student, lover, athlete, the options are boundless. These labels determine our stories, and hence, our well-being. Doing, by contrast, is how we play out these roles, literally the actions we take.

Here’s the practical point. To improve well-being, we must first determine the context within which we wish for change. Meditating on this is the necessary groundwork for positive progress. Take some time to find the contexts, being and doing, that are most important to you.