Pursue What Matters
Episode 205: 13 Keys to Greater Well-Being
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What does it mean to have a life well lived? Our role teaches us it means money, power, looks influence, but 40 years of research points a very different direction. Join me to learn more.
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So a couple of weeks ago, we had a podcast on getting your needs met. And we focused on three questions to help you better understand your needs. First is what what are your needs? Second, why have you driven by some needs more than others? And three, how can you meet your needs effectively? So today, we’re going to focus in on this third question of how, and really give you some good information about how to meet your needs effectively. So are you living your best life? What does that even mean? What does it entail? So today, I want to share the research with you to help you live and meaningful life because that is one of the biggest drivers of well being. And in fact, we’re going to talk about 13 drivers of wellbeing. And so every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead. We do that by helping you lead with clarity, curiosity, and leading and building a community. And so today, primarily, we’re really helping you with curiosity, which is all about developing self awareness. Can you lead yourself first? That is the requirement to be able to lead others effectively. So let’s jump in on our first point. And that is that there are over 40 years of research that answers the question, what makes life worth living. So the study of human behavior has been going on for millennia, right as long as there have been people, but the organized study of psychology is a relatively new field.
So we have trailblazers, like Freud, Jung, and Maslow. And they each have contributed important understandings to what it means to be human. So Abraham Maslow, who I talked a little bit about in our last podcast, on transcendence, taught about the concept of self actualization, and the idea that as humans, we are motivated to grow and develop our potential that we find meaning and living to a purpose higher than ourselves. And more recently, we have seen the positive psychology movement, it’s known as the third wave of psychology, which was really started by Martin Seligman, who committed his career to understanding well being, and the question of what makes life worth living. And so now we have over 40 years of rigorous research and investigation. And as a result of that, researchers have identified 13 sources of wellbeing, that really are the best answer to what makes life worth living. And so today, we’ll introduce these 13 sources, so you can start thinking about how you’re doing in your life. Now, I don’t want to overwhelm you with these 13 sources. But I do want you to have some awareness about them. Are you are you barking up the wrong tree? Are you chasing after things that are not designed to bring wellbeing, so many of us are, it’s a real problem. So I want you to have a little more awareness about these 13 sources, and help you to consider you know, where and how you might cultivate some of these sources, a little more for even greater purpose and wellbeing in your life. So that’s really our goal today.
Okay, so I want to start by sharing these 13 sources of wellbeing. And again, the point is not to overwhelm you, but to give you some more awareness and some some thoughts to consider. So, you know, maybe you just think about one or two of these. So the first source of wellbeing is, people with well being have more positive emotions. So there’s a higher frequency and intensity of positive moods and emotions, such as contentment, laughter and joy in one’s daily life. So you think about how you can cultivate some optimism, how you can cultivate positive emotions. Are you laughing? Do you have things that are fun for you? You know, we have a couple of practices at our home, where once once a week, maybe we get together and we watch a YouTube video or we look at some of the funny memes from the previous week, right? It doesn’t help us get smarter or anything like that. It’s just fun. And it’s something as a family that we all I really look forward to when we’re able to get together. And so that’s a way you can cultivate more positive emotions in your life. Next is big surprise, fewer negative emotions. So there’s a lower frequency and intensity of negative moods and emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, fear, and anger in one’s daily life. Now, sad things happen in life. And so this isn’t about shutting that down. But if we think often about anxiety, fear and anger, that can often be a result of the meaning that we attach to the events that we have happened to us, right? So hard things happen, but do we do we get pulled into a vortex of fear and anxiety and so coping skills and self self regulation skills are really designed to help us manage some of those negative emotions, so that we can cope effectively. So of course, we still move through sadness and pain and grief and loss. But who don’t need to add some of those negative those those secondary negative emotions on top, such as anxiety, and anger, which tend not to be very productive for us? Okay, so the third source of wellbeing is life satisfaction. So there’s a positive subjective evaluation of one’s life overall. So when you look at your life, do you have satisfaction? Do you have contentment? Can you say, life is good? It doesn’t mean the life is perfect. It doesn’t mean all your dreams have come true. But do you? Do you feel satisfied with your life? I think another way of talking about life satisfaction is gratitude. And we know gratitude is a huge driver of well being. And so you know, can you see the goodness in your life despite challenges? So then we have the fourth source, which is vitality. And so this is a positive subjective sense of physical health and energy. So vitality is really thinking about your physical health and energy, right? So are you able to do the things that you want to do? And now, you know, plenty of us have health and medical challenges, right? And that is a reality of life. But do you perceive yourself as weak? Do you perceive yourself as ill and broken down? Do you have an excuse for why you can’t move? Are you always aching and complaining? And does this keep you from taking positive steps to help yourself and to feel like you have more sense of control in your life that you have a say in your health, and I think that’s really key to vitality. And again, it’s that positive, subjective sense. So if I taught vitality has nothing to do with what’s happening objectively, but your response to that your subjective evaluation, and that is really the key. So next, we have five, which is environmental mastery. And this is the ability to shape environments, to suit one’s needs and desires, to feel in control of one’s life to not feel overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities of everyday life. So when we think about environmental mastery, we’re not talking about being a control freak. But it’s this sense of, you know, when you see something in life, whether it’s a goal, or a challenge that you are facing, do you have belief in yourself that you can take on those challenges. If you set a goal, let’s say to, you know, go back to college or to finish your undergraduate undergraduate degree do you have belief that you can be successful that you can take steps to help yourself and that you’re not just a victim of your environment, that makes a big difference when it comes to well being?
Next, we have number six, which is positive relationships. So this is a no brainer, right? But feeling loved, supported and valued by others, having warm and trusting interpersonal relationships, being loving and generous to others. So this not only looks at you know, what kinds of relationships do you have? Do you have relationships, but how do you feel in those relationships, right, you can have a very loving relationship. But if you’re coming from a place of deficiency, you might not fully see and value those relationships. And so, you know, as you can see with many of these sources of well being, perception makes a big difference. Our attitude makes a big difference, how we choose to look at situations really makes a big difference in terms of well being. And it really is about creating more autonomy, which is one of the other sources. So now let’s look at number seven, which is self acceptance. That’s a big one. So these are positive attitudes towards yourself a sense of self worth, liking and respecting yourself. You know, it’s hard to be happy and to feel good about life. If you hate yourself if you’re completely critical of yourself. And so, self acceptance is so basic, right? It’s a no brainer. And yet, it’s one of the hardest ones. For many of us, we can be very critical towards ourselves. So next we have number eight, which is mastery. These are feelings of competence in accomplishing challenging tasks, a sense of effectiveness in accomplishing important goals one has set for oneself. So mastery, similar to environmental mastery, right, that you can you can be an agent in your own life is also this mastery is a little more focused on goal setting. Right? So it’s really looking at these growth opportunities. And, you know, are you setting goals? Are you striving for excellence in your life? And and do you succeed? Do you gain skills? Do you develop in your YouTube? Do you develop strengths? So number nine, autonomy is the next source of well being. And that is feeling independent, free to make one’s own choices in life, and able to resist social pressure. So this is really important. Do you respect yourself? Can you make decisions for yourself, and then 10 is personal growth. This is continually seeking development and improvement, rather than seeking achievement of a fixed state. So this is all about growth, and development, it’s about reaching your full potential. So it’s not about hitting marks, just for external rewards, or to be seen of, of man or anything like that. But it’s really, it’s really about fulfilling potential and living to your potential.
Next, we have number 11, which is engagement in life. This is being absorbed, interested and involved in one’s daily activities and life. I think another way to think about this one is attention. Or attunement, are you awake and alive in your life? Are you present to the life that you’re living? So when we think about mindfulness practices, meditation, all of those really point to this engagement in life or this President’s attention, attunement. And next, we have number 12. This is a big one purpose and meaning in life. This is a sense that one’s life matters, is valuable and is worth living. There’s a clear sense of direction and meaning in one’s efforts, a connection to something greater than oneself. And boy, purpose and meaning are big, really big. If you have a why, for your living, you can cope with just about any house. Now that came to us from Nietzsche. And it was really Victor Frankel’s theme when he was a prisoner in the concentration camps of World War Two. And last but not least, we have 13, which are transcendent experiences. So these are experiences of off flow, inspiration, and gratitude, and daily life. So these don’t have to be huge. Life Events, these can be experiences that invite awe and flow in everyday living. So if you think about inspiration, we think about spiritual connection, we think about prayer, experiences of awe. Do you do you step out? On a on a clear night and and take in the stars? Do you watch the sunrise? Do you pay attention to the moon, these are these are daily experiences that can invite experiences of art, inspiration and gratitude in daily life. And so those are the 13 sources of wellbeing. And you know, they don’t just come from me, these are all documented by Kaufman in his book transcend, which I reviewed last week. But they’re based on over 40 years of very rigorous research. And so I just want to wrap up with my last point, which is that well being doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. And this is a mistake I think a lot of people make that we end up trying to pursue happiness, which will result in a lack of happiness, rather than pursuing meaning, you know, the podcast is pursue what matters. And it really points to how incredibly important purpose and meaning are in our lives. So these sources help to foster healthy motivation and healthy living, right, how are we pursuing what matters in effective ways? These sources are not just about stereotypical notions of happiness, such as money, power, prestige, or influence. In fact, those things that so many of us seek after are are counter to wellbeing, they do not drive wellbeing, they actually drive the opposite of it.
So the sources that we talked about today are about wellbeing, not happiness. But here’s, here’s the thing, right? Cultivating wellbeing will lead to greater happiness. But of course, it doesn’t guarantee it. But pursuing happiness will not result in well being, in fact, it guarantees that you won’t find well being. And so I think, you know, an example that many of us can relate to, is having children, right. It’s something that’s recognized as deeply meaningful for for folks in our society that’s changing a little bit. I think that’s unfortunate.
But it is an activity that’s deeply meaningful for most people. It cultivates well being. But here’s what’s true about parenting. Every parent knows this. It often puts you at odds with happiness. It certainly puts you at odds with pleasure, and doing what you want to do. Right. So by becoming a parent, you saddle yourself with tons of responsibilities, worry and obligation for the rest of your life, right? Like it is a big commitment. And yet it is, it is among the most meaningful and purpose driven activities that we could engage in as a human. And so you know, wellbeing is about living to purpose. It’s living a meaningful life. It’s living a less selfish life. And we think about parenting, that’s the invitation is to be less selfish. So if we think about that example, but you know, don’t worry, there’s plenty of happiness in that process, too. Because happiness is a natural outgrowth of pursuing what matters and becoming less selfish. So from Kaufman becoming fully human is about living a full existence, not one that is continually happy. So being well is not always about feeling good. It also involves continually incorporating more meaning, engagement and growth in your life. So I hope that these 13 sources of wellbeing are helpful for you, I hope, yeah, one way, one thing you could do is you could take some time, and ask yourself a question about each of these sources of wellbeing. Do you do you have these sources in your life? Are those showing up? Can you see evidence of them in your daily life? And if not, what can you do about that? Right? So if we think about positive emotions, what’s one way you could cultivate more positive emotions in your daily life? And I shared a simple example of how I do that. But there’s lots of ways that you could do that. And so I hope you will get curious about the sources of wellbeing, and identify maybe one or two ways that you can cultivate more of these sources of wellbeing in your life. How can you do that at work? How can you do that at home.
So in the meantime, head over to my website to check out the shownotes with the resources for this episode. Of course, if you haven’t listened to the podcast on getting your needs not certainly do that, I also have the book review of transcend which some of these sources are documented there. So I will link to both of those in the show notes. And I would love to connect with you on Instagram @dr.melissasmith I share lots of resources about the podcast every day on Instagram, and I’d love to hear what you want to hear more about. I’d also really appreciate it if you wouldn’t mind reviewing the podcast on Apple or Spotify. This gives me good feedback. And it also lets people learn about the podcast. Make sure you head over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/205-13keysofwellbeing and that’s the number one three keys of well being. I will link to the recent two podcasts there. So if you haven’t listened to getting your needs met, definitely check that out. I would also appreciate it if you would consider giving the podcast five stars on Apple or Spotify. It’s a good way for others to learn about the podcast and of course I’d love to connect with you on Instagram @dr.melissasmith I have great resources related to this content every day on the podcast. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
Transcribed by https://otter.ai