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Wellbeing Requires More than Work-Life Balance

Myths and misconceptions could be interfering with your wellbeing. The old work-life balance mantra that many of us put our faith in - or aspired to - may actually be failing us.

According to Tom Rath and Jim Harber, authors of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, it's not just about being healthy, happy, wealthy and successful.

And before you rise up and say 'Not in my world!', let it be known that their social research reportedly covered 98% of the world's population and included 150 countries. (That does still leave 42-45 countries not checked, so you could be right...)

But universally, they say, there are five elements of human wellbeing - career, social, financial, physical, and community.

And only seven percent of us are doing well in all five.

So let's look a little more closely at the 5 Universal Elements of Wellbeing, and see where we can improve.

This, apparently, is the primary driver of wellbeing. Probably because we spend more time there than anywhere else other than sleeping. Bottom line is that people need to enjoy what they do every day. Does 'follow your heart' ring any bells?

This means people feel better when they surround themselves with close personal relationships. Certainly, social isolation is one of the factors vigorously discouraged by practitioners treating depression, so the polar opposite sounds logical.

In urban society this perhaps is closer to Maslow's base layer in his hierarchy of needs.  It's not about riches, but about managing economic security and stress.

This is close to the 'healthy' feeling we've long related to joyful living, but is actually more basic. It means having enough energy to complete the day's activities.

Of all the five, this is perhaps the one many would have ignored - unless they live in a community stressed by natural or manmade disasters. And I wonder, could those 'disasters' include the Internet? The deciding factor is "being engaged in the area where they live".  And when you think about it, that could be positive in a war zone, and negative in cyberspace.

In western urban society, some of these definitions might seem too fundamental, yet in agrarian societies they might also seem irrationally ranked. Perhaps that's what happens when you try to come up with something universal from such a range of lifestyles.

But I think it does us a favor in renewing focus on the basics. I remember hearing the wonder in a neighbor's voice when he realised he could cancel his gym membership and get the benefits of exercise by doing his own gardening.

And in the workplace we can also bring it back to basics.

Thomas A. Wright, a professor of management at America’s Kansas State University, suggests employee wellbeing is directly related to worker productivity. He says that happy workers are better able to concentrate on effective decision-making, are more motivated, and are more likely to stay at the same job longer.

And you can boost employee wellbeing by simple things like relaxing the dress code, discouraging gossip, providing opportunities for physical fitness, giving employees more autonomy, and stressing team work over hierarchy

Enjoying life therefore, might actually, therefore, relate more to mindset than to the artificial interpretations of external actions.


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