Saturday, 28 June 2014

Wellbeing // What does wellbeing mean to you?

In part three of this series asking "What does wellbeing mean to you?", I had the pleasure on asking Florence who works for the Network of Wellbeing. She discusses the NOW own wellbeing concepts and her own thoughts on what wellbeing means to her as part of her lifestyle. A very interesting read!

I actually find this a beautifully complex question to reflect upon. Firstly, I should highlight that I work for an organisation called the Network of Wellbeing (NOW), so wellbeing is a concept I spend a lot of time thinking about. So, you may wonder, why do I find this question so complex? Through my experiences working at NOW I have discovered that wellbeing is something everyone cares about in one way or another, yet people can seek to achieve wellbeing in a multitude of different ways and can approach wellbeing from many different angles. Thus, in some ways you could argue that wellbeing can be seen as both universal and specific. 

In my own understanding of wellbeing, I have found the work of the New Economics Foundation (nef) helpful, in providing a simple yet valuable approach through the Five Ways to Wellbeing(Connect… Be Active… Take Notice… Keep Learning… Give). These Five Ways are intended to be a wellbeing equivalent to the idea of having five fruit and vegetables a day. They offer a basis for reminding you of the aspects of life which can be vital to ensure health and balance. We have used the Five Ways to guide our approach to some of our community projects at NOW, and this has had some very positive outcomes. 

At NOW we talk about wellbeing as being about healthier people, happier communities and a more sustainable planet. It is important to care for personal wellbeing, and from this place of taking good care of ourselves we can hopefully take better care of each other and the planet. I see this as a virtuous circle, since it has been shown to be good for personal wellbeing if we connect with others and if we spend time appreciating and caring for the natural world
In addition to this, I think wellbeing is a concept which can provide people with a way to challenge the status quo of measuring our societal progress in terms of economic growth only. There is plenty of evidence showing that increases in economicgrowth do not always improve our quality of life. Following this it is fair to ask, shouldn’t our collective measurements of progress more accurately reflect what really matters to us in life; our health, our happiness and caring for the planet which sustains all of our lives. If we could shift towards more holistic progress measurements including wellbeing, rather than focusing economic growth only, these are issues which could be placed higher on the political agenda. 

So, when asking what wellbeing means to me it brings to mind all of these different aspects on personal, community and planetary levels. Wellbeing is a holistic concept which helps me reflect on the importance of prioritising quality of life for myself and others, now and in the future.

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