I recently met an old friend and complimented him on how well he was looking. He looked great – healthy, happy and at ease with life - and like he was taking care of himself.
He radiated wellbeing physically …. but it was much more than that. He had air of balance and a thoughtfulness about him, that was clearly hard-earned. His work was going well and he had recently been promoted. He had healthy and better boundaries around his work than ever and was focused on enjoying his life too. His thinking and communications were clear and authentic, and he was firing on all cylinders with a lot of compassion for others in the world around him. He was in ‘flying form’. He relayed the story of another friend he had met halfway through the COVID lockdowns. He had similarly complimented him. His response was: ‘Yeah, I decided that’.
Wellbeing doesn’t happen by itself. It takes consistent effort. In a world that is increasingly complex –with more choices and possibilities but also one with more struggles and uncertainties which are inherently stressful, it is important to keep it front of mind if you want to make it happen. When we are stressed, everything gets affected including our relationships and habits.
We have a much greater tendency to rely on or fall into negative coping resources unless we make a particular effort not to do so. Negative coping patterns can vary in nature and by degree. We can binge watch TV to ‘relax’ or ‘zone out’. Or we can drink alcohol to ‘relax’ because we have lost the ability to slow the mind down naturally through meditation or otherwise. Or we can eat junk food or sugar for comfort. You will know your own patterns.
Averagely we are living longer but not necessarily a better quality of life. Studies say that on average men spend 16 years in poor health and women 19.
There is so much health related information available and some of it is contradictory. It is easy to get confused or even overwhelmed. And that gives many of us an excuse to not try, give up or postpone. Wellbeing is a big topic with lots of areas which can add to the confusion. We have physical and mental health. Our social, emotional, financial, creative, spiritual, digital and environmental wellbeing are also factors. And wellbeing at work is increasingly a priority. If one area of your life is off-balance, that is enough to buckle your wellbeing wheel. Although various studies show negative trends in terms of wellbeing - it doesn’t have to be like that.
Part of the challenge of wellbeing – like so many other problems – is that although the problem of wellbeing is universal, the solution is personal – personal to you, your family the company or team you work in etc. There isn’t a one size fits all solution. Just as personalities, goals, schedules and priorities are different, so too are our solutions for wellbeing. It takes effort to find the right formula for you, your family, team and organisation. It is simply unrealistic to think that we would all perfect our wellbeing on hearing a new idea or recommendation once or even a few times.
The answer is to be persistent, through regular education, awareness building and action. It takes time and trial and error to find the right formula. But just as those who finally give up smoking or achieve anything great in life learn, you are more likely to be successful the more efforts you make.