the decline of moments of being well
While looking for an image to express the concept of well-being, I came across this photo of Japanese snow monkeys relaxing in a hot spring on a winter's day. I don't know about you, but it makes me pause, exhale, feel the warmth, and appreciate the good. In case it doesn't do that for you, consider it a warm invitation to find something that does. In pandemic time, most of us need more human warmth, more long exhalations, and more appreciation of what is good.
Moments of being well, of well-being, are elusive today. A 2021 survey using a respected measure of flourishing shows that around 60% of non-boomer adults (under age 58) are NOT flourishing. The level of burnout, a terrible crisis of ill-being - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual depletion - is at an all-time high in healthcare and other industries devastated by the pandemic.
Many things that had nourished our well-being, or kept ill-being at bay, keep appearing and disappearing, like unreliable magic tricks. We are not yet skilled hunters and gatherers of the moments of well-being that make up a life well lived, particularly for young people.
As you would guess, the concept of well-being, like many human endeavors, is complicated and multi-faceted. Along with the flourishing model, we have an abundance of science-based well-being models to choose from - positive psychology, PERMA, positivity, Gallup, Self-Determination Theory, Maslow's model of Self-Actualization, CDC, and lifestyle medicine - to name some respected models. Focused since 2000 on understanding and fostering wellness and well-being through coaching, our Wellcoaches contributions include:
designing coaching as a science-based well-being intervention in its own right, even when coaching isn't explicitly focused on health and well-being goals
organizing and integrating well-being elements into our natural multiplicity - the mind has multiple parts, each with it's own well-being formula
Models of work well-being have arrived (Gallup, job crafting, research handbook, for example), along with our enlightened discovery that individual well-being, leading well, and organizational well-being are profoundly interdependent. Work is a vital source of well-being. Well-being enables great work. None too soon, well-being has become a leadership priority, not just a line item in the HR budget.
well-being vs wellness
With all of the scientific attention, the cool factor of well-being has overtaken the fading construct of wellness, which now seems out-of-fashion. While the APA defines wellness as a dynamic state of well-being, others have relegated wellness to the corner of physical health, despite an abundance of well-constructed, whole-person wheels of wellness that convey the deep interconnections of mind, body, life, and work wellness or well-being.
In 2019, when our NBHWC and VA team worked with the American Medical Association (AMA) to establish healthcare billing codes for coaching services, the AMA decided on "health and well-being" rather than health and wellness. Thank goodness - at last there is a healthcare profession focused on well-being, something most agree is good for physical health, even if wellness got demoted in the process.
Another thing most everyone agrees on is that we need to get better at navigating our negative emotions and experiences. In particular, we need to suffer well by turning the near-universal pandemic trauma of a severely disrupted present and future into post-traumatic growth - more appreciation, meaning, strength, possibilities, creative acts, and richer relationships. Not just bouncing back with resilience, but fully experiencing the losses and fears so they carry us forward to a better place, better able to thrive during the next tough times.
a life well lived - together
Whether we are enjoying moments of well-being, or experiencing and turning difficult moments into good - strength, growth, and new opportunities, we are living work and life well. Reaching out to help others, helps us feel better. Asking others for help, looking to people who are thriving or flourishing, does them a favor. They feel even better (social well-being!).
We are in a well-being reboot. We are in this together.