The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing

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I’ve recently come across an interesting book called Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Gallup Press) by Tom Rath and James K. Harter, Ph.D. Interestingly,  in partnership with leading economists, psychologists, and other acclaimed scientists, they have begun to explore the common elements of wellbeing that are common to all countries and cultures.

In their initial research, they asked people what “the best possible future” for them would look like.

As part of this research, they conducted a comprehensive global study of more than 150 countries, giving them a lens into the wellbeing of more than 98% of the world’s population. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, they asked hundreds of questions about health, wealth, relationships, jobs, and communities.

They then compared these results to how people experience their days and evaluate their lives overall.

In the initial research,  people were asked what “the best possible future” for them would look like. They found that when evaluating their lives, people often gave disproportionate weight to income and health: Across the groups  surveyed, “good health” and “wealth” were two of the most common responses.

Perhaps this is because these things are easy to measure and track over time — we can monitor our height, weight, blood pressure, and household income. Yet we do not have a standard way to measure the quality of our careers or the health of our relationships.

So to construct a comprehensive measure of individual wellbeing, Gallup designed an assessment called the Wellbeing Finder, by testing hundreds of questions across countries, languages, and vastly different life situations.

Upon completion of the research, five distinct statistical factors emerged. These are the universal elements of wellbeing that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering. They describe aspects of our lives that we can do something about and that are important to people in every situation we studied.

The elements

These elements are the currency of a life that matters. They do not include every thing that’s important in life, but they do represent five broad categories that are essential to most people.

  • The first element is about how you occupy your time or simply liking what you do every day: your Career Wellbeing.
  • The second element is about having strong relationships and love in your life: your Social Wellbeing.
  • The third element is about effectively managing your economic life: your Financial Wellbeing.
  • The fourth element is about having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis: your Physical Wellbeing.
    The fifth element is about the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live: your Community Wellbeing.
While 66% of people are doing well in at least one of these areas, just 7% are thriving in all five. If we’re struggling in any one of these domains, as most of us are, it damages our wellbeing and wears on our daily life. When we strengthen our wellbeing in any of these areas, we will have better days, months, and decades. But we’re not getting the most out of our lives unless we’re living effectively in all five.

For more info check out  The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing.

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2 thoughts on “The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing

  1. kell February 22, 2011 / 8:23 am

    Very good, I would add something like a hobby or a creative side, be in wiritng or gardening or watching a film, whatever it is that you truly love, that you do purely because you truly love it. Must think up some stuff to do in my community though- I fall short there for defs!

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