What is well-being?

August 06 2014 / by Mari Ryan

What is well-being?

When you think of the concept of well-being. What comes to mind? Being healthy, not sick? Being loved? Being satisfied with life and happy? The AdvancingWellness team asked a few friends what well-being means to them, and here’s as representative sample of the comments we received:wellbeing_tree

  • Body mind spirit ---- in harmony
  • Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, Wise
  • Happiness and a balanced lifestyle
  • The total parts of your life being in balance. Not just your own physical body, mind and spirit, but being in tune with the things around you. Your relationships, stress levels, work/home life balance, etc.
  • Happy, motivated and healthy ... In mind, body and spirit

Well-being is tough to define. My research indicates that there is no universal definition for this term. The Merriam-Webster definition is “the state of being happy, healthy or prosperous”. References to well-being go back to the ancient Greeks. For Aristotle, it was leading a virtuous life and doing what is worth doing. For Plato, well-being was achieved by practicing virtues such as self-control, courage, justice, piety, wisdom and related qualities of mind and soul, and that they are absolutely crucial if a person is to lead a good and happy life.

A growing body of research has defined well-being as multi-dimensional, holistic view of those areas of our life in which we function optimally in order to thrive. When we aren’t living optimally in these areas, we are struggling or suffering. There are five dimensions of well-being:

  • Purpose – how you occupy your time or like what you do every day
  • Connection – having strong relationships and love in your life
  • Money – effectively manage your economic life
  • Energy – having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis
  • Community Involvement – sense of engagement you have with the area where you live.

One additional dimension that we add to this is the environment or in the workplace, we would call it the culture. In defining this, it includes the way the culture in which we live supports and encourages us to flourish in the other dimensions. This may include policies, the built environment, and the resources that are available to us. The worksite culture has a direct impact on employee well-being. 

In future blogs, we’ll explore the various dimensions of well-being, how we can impact them and specifically how these dimensions can be addressed in the workplace.


Topics: Wellbeing

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.