As we discussed earlier, happiness is a transient concept as it changes like a pulse or blood sugar. Happiness is short-lasting, and it will escape quickly from your heart with new negative stresses or expectations in life. Well-being talks about our excellent mental and physical health in perfect harmony. The word we are looking for is Subjective well-being. Subjective well-being refers to people’s evaluations of their lives, which can be judgments such as life satisfaction, assessments based on current feelings, including moods and emotions.
Subjective Well-being (SWB): Current positive or negative emotion state + Current life satisfaction + Sense of purpose and meaning in life.
So, happiness and well-being are transient and relate to us only. Subjective well-being focuses on our long-term happiness or encourages us to choose a path to be happy. People pay a large sum of money for self-care, including vacations, expensive gifts, and paying for transient happiness (Gym, Massage therapy, beauty products, and medical aesthetics). There are thousands of studies and books on happiness. Dr. Martin Seligman, the author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness, has put forward the PERMA™ theory of well-being. According to him, five building blocks enable flourishing.
• Positive Emotions: within limits, we can improve our positive emotions by being content with the past, savoring the present, and cultivating hope for the future.
• Engagement: This is when we enjoy it so much that we get into flow or zone. Here we forget our constantly neurotic self, and our perception of time disappears.
• Relationship: Truly great relationships bring greatness out of us through kindness, love, compassion, teamwork, and self-sacrifice.
• Meaning: A sense of purpose from belonging to something bigger than self. These are the societal institutions like religion, medical society, work, or even fighting for a cause.
• Achievement: we pursue achievement, competence, success, and mastery in one or more domains of life. This pursuit does not necessarily bring positive emotions for a short time.
Different people will derive well-being from each of these five building blocks to varying degrees. A good life for one person is not necessarily a good life for another. Dr. Seligman’s theory is hard to follow in daily life. In the following few newsletters, we will talk about my reading and research that has helped me to come up with Five W’s that will make it easy for you to follow the path of subjective well-being.
These 5 W’s are
• Well-being of yourself: physical, mental, and personality
• Wealth or absence of poverty
• Working partner/Spouse/Love
• Work and retirement
• Well-wishers (Friends, Family, Culture, Religion, institutions)
Thanks for reading till the end!
Tarak Vasavada, MD
Medical director, Live Well foundation of MCMS
Follow my five essential W’s.