Remember that old saw, “We are our own worst enemy?”
Well, there is some evidence that we are.
For oldsters like me, we have pretty well lived our lives. It’s unlikely we will be making any major changes in who we are or what we do in the remaining years. But we may be able to impact the lives of our children or grandchildren by sharing some consequential information with them.
As long-time readers of my columns can likely guess, I have read another book about human behavior. It’s titled “Well Being” and it’s about the lives you and I are living and what we have done that has made our lives worthwhile and the decisions we have made that have been either misguided or just plain wrong.
Contrary to what many people believe, well being isn’t just about being happy. Nor is it about being wealthy or successful. And it’s not limited to physical health and wellness. In fact, focusing on any of these elements in isolation could drive us to feelings of frustration and even failure.
A Gallup research project conducted a global study of people in more than 150 countries. They concluded that there are five universal elements of well being that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering.
The first element is about how we occupy our time in the world of work: Career Wellbeing.
Secondly it is about relationships including the love in our lives: Social Wellbeing.
Thirdly is about how effectively we manage our economic life: Financial Wellbeing.
Fourth is about having good health and our ability to get things done on a daily basis: Physical Wellbeing.
The fifth element is about the sense of engagement we have where we live: Community Wellbeing.
This massive Gallup study found that 66 percent of the people are doing well in at least one of these areas but just 7 percent are thriving in all five. Further, if we are struggling in any one of these elements — and most of us are — it damages our wellbeing and wears on our daily lives. When we strengthen our wellbeing in any of these areas we will improve our lives.
The study also found that for many people, spirituality or a deep commitment — such as protecting the environment — inspires and enhances their daily lives.
However, the biggest single threat to our wellbeing tends to be ourselves. We allow short-term decisions to override what’s best for our long-term wellbeing. If we can find short-term incentives that are consistent with our long-term objectives, we are likely to make the right decisions in the moment.
Of special interest is a huge appendix which presents wellbeing data (Thriving, Struggling or Suffering) in the world’s countries and in cities and states in the U.S. Arizona ranks 21st in the Thriving category; Hawaii is first. With regard to countries, Denmark and Finland are the top two with the United States checking in at 19.