Wellbeing: the vital container of your life
Only when something has gone, do we appreciate what was lost. Or so long has something not been available that we no longer notice its absence, but are left wanting. Whether we’re fighting an illness and reminiscing about the healthier times and wondering “Why did I not appreciate my health then?!” or pain from an injury that has become part and parcel of who we are, we no longer notice the lack of wellness but ‘something’ seems amiss. Our sense of wellbeing is the cornerstone to a life that feels satisfying, and who doesn’t want to live with satisfaction?
If asked “Is wellbeing important to you?”, most of us without hesitation would reply “Yes!” for we can sense into the truth that living with wellbeing has profound effects on all aspects of living; yet, are we all singing from the same hymn sheet when we talk about what wellbeing is? Whilst the Oxford Dictionary will tell you that being ‘comfortable, happy and healthy’ is wellbeing, many professionals, including myself, would disagree and counter this definition with that from the Foresight Report:
Wellbeing is a dynamic state, in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others, and contribute to their community. It is enhanced when an individual is able to fulfil their personal and social goals and achieve a sense of purpose in society.
Wellbeing is the hub in which all our choices feed into and emanate from! If you’re a visual person like me, imagine taking a birds eye view of the south-east of England at night and see how most roads lead to and away from London, which is the great connector of the region - this is how wellbeing operates! Wellbeing will be compromised if there is deep job dissatisfaction, prolonged debilitating illness, toxic relationships, or/and unhappiness with your living environment as it’s the container that holds the varying facets of our lives.
The components of wellbeing Wellbeing can be a nebulous, fluffy terms that we get a feel for but can be at a loss to say what the main ingredients are, so let’s highlight these and dive in. Wellbeing is:
a way of life
a process with no end point
an integration of body, mind, spirit
When we speak about wellbeing, we are speaking about the choice of “Do I choose to have or not have wellbeing?” Oftentimes this will show up as a specific issue such as giving up smoking, drinking less alcohol, losing weight or exercising more, a sense of discontent with our current lives and a decision to change this. We make a choice between “Do things stay as they are or do I make a change?” Behind every action lies a choice, and multiple actions contribute to our sense of wellbeing.
Anyone who has been on a diet or tried to start a new habit will attest to the fact that there are no quick fixes! Every positive habit that has been upheld and negative habit abolished for a sustained period of time is because it has become part of our lives. A commitment to wellbeing shows up as a way of life just as brushing our teeth every morning is a commitment to our oral health and our positive social interactions! Our decisions are increasingly weighted towards “Will this make me feel well?” “What are the consequences of this?” as we reap the benefits of living with a sense of vitality. Like the mammoth journey of life, there is no end point for we are always developing and expanding our potential with our wellbeing the container of this expansion; rather there is a constant renewal of our desire to live optimally whereby our wellbeing takes centre stage.
As a Yoga practitioner for 14 years and teacher of over seven years with a daily practice, I can recognise in my daily life the manifold effects of appreciating the interplay between body, mind and spirit. In further articles I’ll explore each aspect in detail, indeed there are countless books on what body, mind, and spirit mean. Yet take a brief moment to recognise that what you sense enters through your body, your beliefs and values effect how you’re perceiving this article, and your sense of purpose and how you will digest what you read is in accordance with your spirit, this great motivator of our potential. The varying shades and colours of body, mind and spirit, the interplay and the honouring of these has a huge effect on what it means to live with wellbeing.
Under the whirl of desires, impulses, actions, thoughts, feelings and being-ness is the catalyst of self- compassion, a state that is characterised by acceptance and kindness towards ourselves and others. So often it can be easy to offer friends and even strangers compassion, yet when the requirement is turned inward, there can be a shrivelling away from through fear of becoming unmotivated or being self-pitying. In a subsequent article, I’ll explore self-compassion in more detail in relation to wellbeing, but for now, I’ll briefly say that self-compassion is counter to self-pity. In a state of compassion, we are treating ourselves as we would a best friend by accepting the situation with kindness and offering encouragement to take action to change the situation. Compassion is to accept with kindness and take action - the very opposite of pitiful behaviour! When we can be our best ally, we can kindly pick ourselves up when the chips are down and take strides towards meaningful change which is vital in our commitment to wellbeing when obstacles will always present themselves!
I hope this article has helped to cut through the noise surrounding wellbeing and given you a clearer understanding on how wellbeing is part of your life. If you’ve made it this far, then ask yourself the question ‘Do I want to improve my wellbeing?’ If the answer is ‘Yes’, can you answer ‘Why do I want to improve my wellbeing?’
Charlene McAuley is a Yoga teacher and Wellbeing coach based in Manchester. Teacher to Everton FC first team for over five years, and teaching workshops and retreats around Europe, Charlene brings together her explorations in Yoga, mediation, Gestalt Psychotherapy, Dance, and Wellbeing Coaching to offer students an holistic, unique way of exploring their humanness and potential.