What is the true definition of Wellbeing for modern living?

Wellbeing is a term we hear a lot these days and for most people they believe that wellbeing is doing nice stuff to make them feel good and happy.

While the dictionary definition of ‘Wellbeing’ – is the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy.

However, this version of wellbeing may apply for one person and not necessarily for another as each person will have a different version of this according to their personalities, values, goals and ambitions.

Therefore, this dictionary definition is more based on the outcomes of wellbeing rather than defining what Wellbeing is?

What influences Wellbeing?

Basically every aspect of your life influences your wellbeing. Researchers investigating happiness have found the following factors enhance an individual’s wellbeing:

  • Adequate money
  • A safe physical environment (home & environment)
  • An enjoyable & fulfilling career
  • How in control you feel in life
  • Fulfilling your goals
  • Having a sense of purpose & meaning
  • Regular exercise
  • A balanced diet
  • Sufficient sleep
  • An intimate relationship with a partner
  • A network of close friends
  • A sense of belonging
  • The ability to adapt to change
  • And all the above are interrelated


Martin Seligman, an American psychologist of positive psychology suggests five factors for wellbeing which include:

  1. having positive emotions
  2. being engaged in activity
  3. having good relationships with other people
  4. finding meaning in one’s life
  5. a sense of accomplishment in the pursuit of one’s goals.

These are great concepts but it doesn’t address the basic human needs that need to be place for the above to happen.

If we consider Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which stated that the basic needs like physiological needs, such as food, water, shelter and our safety needs like security and safety need to be in place and fulfilled before we can move up to our psychological needs and then our self-actualisation needs.

What is a more helpful definition for wellbeing?

Therefore, for me, a more helpful definition or approach to the understanding of wellbeing is proposed by Dodge, Daly, Huyton, & Sanders, 2012 state that

‘Stable wellbeing is when individuals have the psychological, social and physical resources they need to meet a particular psychological, social and/or physical challenge. When individuals have more challenges than resources, the see-saw dips, along with their wellbeing, and vice-versa.’

( Image adapted from Dodge et al. 2012: 230)

Therefore, wellbeing here is defined as a balancing process between the resources people have and the challenges people face. Wellbeing is only experienced when a person is able to meet those challenges of life whilst sustaining or increasing their resources and their skills.

Resources here would include your essential needs to thrive and these would be your basics like food, water and shelter, having a job, money, your health and vitality, social support, self-awareness and motivation and more.

Hence, your skills are your capabilities, life experience and what you have learnt up to this to meet life’s challenges.

Then, these challenges are situations and events that happen to you on a daily basis in your work and personal life and demand you to deal with them as best you can with the resources you have.

However, when your resources are low, you may feel overwhelmed with stress and fatigue and find it more difficult to deal with life’s challenges. This then affects and reduces our sense of wellbeing.

So, therefore, you need to make sure that you are sustaining or increasing the resources and skills you have on a regular basis to help reduce the challenges you face and make it easier for you to deal with them. This helps maintain your equilibrium and wellbeing.

Furthermore, for your wellbeing, in addition to the above we need to incorporate wellness as this quote sums it up:

“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit.  The realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our wellbeing” Greg Anderson

In conclusion, given these points above, this is a truer definition of wellbeing for a happier and better quality of life in these modern times of 21st century living.

Over to you,

What are you doing for yourself now in these challenging times of Covid and lockdown to replenish your resources to help you maintain your wellbeing???