Is our overall wellbeing a better goal than ‘happiness’?

Have we been chasing the wrong thing all these years? Those fleeting moments of happiness may seem few and far between during a pandemic, with economic instability, physical distancing and stay at home orders pushing our pursuit of the golden moments out of reach. Whether that’s a hard worked-for promotion, overseas holiday, or quality time with frail loved ones. 

While rolling in all the lows, perhaps it’s time we reframed our goal?

Happiness is fleeting

Happiness has been described as ‘the experience of joy, contentment, or positive wellbeing, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.’ These positive feelings can help motivate us to pursue important goals and overcome obstacles, protect us from the effects of stress, connect us better with others, and even stave off physical and mental ailments. 

And when those fleeting moments of joy dry up?

Wellbeing is forever

On the other hand, our overall wellbeing is influenced by things like resilience, optimism, self-esteem, our sense of meaning in life, and quality relationships. Therefore, feeling happiness is one aspect of our wellbeing; how well we function as a whole.

Which means you can have wellbeing without the happiness.

Maybe the key is enjoying the highs and learning how to better manage in the lows.

Life is supposed to be a rollercoaster

Life is full of highs and lows – spending too much time at one extreme doesn’t allow for a balanced range of emotions. 

It’s not realistic to expect life will be rosy all the time, nor is it probably healthy. This year, we’ve been reminded of our human fragility and the fleeting and impermanent nature of life. With reported widespread income loss, a media-driven fear of ill-health, and enforced isolation, for some, their wellbeing could feel fractured

How to improve our wellbeing

In addition to a healthy and balanced lifestyle, there are a few ways to enhance your wellbeing:

  1. Strengthen relationships
    Even though you may be spending *a lot* more time at home these days, stay connected with friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
  2. Start a gratitude practice
    Every day, note three positive things from your day, or three things you’re grateful for in your life.
  3. Introduce random acts of kindness
    Giving and receiving kindness is good for everyone.

Many people are doing it tough this year. Being able to develop that awareness of self and others and reach out where it’s needed can positively improve your wellbeing and that of the recipient.


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