Updated: Jul 4

You have not been truly well without knowing what well-being is like. Well-being comes in five different perspective. Knowing these different well-being precepts is key to understanding of your wellbeing. It also reinforces your personal affirmation of what well-being feels like.

Have you ever thought like your natural sense of well-being is not enough for you to know what it really feels like? That is because the concept of well-being comes in five different perspective. Knowing these different well-being precepts is key to understanding of your well-being. It also reinforces your personal affirmation of what well-being should be.

“'Well-being' is often used interchangeably with the term 'wellness'. While they are interrelated, 'wellness' is a concept that dwells with physical enrichment e.g. food supplements, nutrition, beauty cares, or simply doing business. Well-being on the other hand pertains to a state of mind resulting from the overall psychological effects of wellness.”

As a concept, well-being dates to antiquity. It had been the question whose answer sought by most influential ancient thinkers such as Aristotle. They were trying to define and achieve the good life—a concept often construed with well-being. Derek Parfit in 1984 originally offered three types of well-being namely: hedonistic, desire, and objective list theories. To date however, there are five recognized approaches on well-being. These, Dr. Daniel Haybron listed in his book: The Pursuit of Unhappiness (The Elusive Psychology of Well-being). From these five approaches, you can determine which one is your own approach to well-being. Also, find out what experts and a whole community of debating people think about the differing views.

1. Well-being as pleasure

Do you feel the need to indulge in luxuries and pampers with urgency? Do you find contentment in gratifications of your sensual needs? Do you fancy “burying yourself in caviar and drowning yourself in champagne”? Are you solely interested in things providing pleasant experiences that are straightforwardly out of physical activities? If you have an overarching feeling to maintain a significant balance of pleasant over unpleasant experience, then well-being as pleasure must be your own perception of well-being. You ascribe pleasure as life’s ultimate good. Also, you would not mind any kind of pleasure so long as it is a pleasant experience. If it gratifies you in a way, then it contributes directly to your well-being. Most importantly, you would not mind well-being as pleasure being disputed for taking oneself as a pleasure-machine. Your stand is simply to put emphasis on the delightful experiences being human yourself.

2. Well-being as desire fulfillment

Are you only happy if things turn out the way you want them to be? Do you distinguish between different types of pleasures as regards to which kind of activity produces them? Pleasure need not be produced by activities usually associated with it such as a Friday night hype at the bar or some steamy nights at the beach. In fact, there are a thriving number of people who pleasures themselves in things that requires vast amount of effort to accomplish. Closing a deal for many people for instance comes with the feeling of victory and self-affirmation. Feeling of victory and self-affirmation are a huge source of joy or pleasure. If you identify with these group, then well-being as desire fulfillment is your well-being precept. You could be missing, however on other things that are just as good. But if they do not mean anything to you, anyway. After all, you already had pre-ordered outcomes in your head.

3. Well-being as authentic happiness

Have you had trouble finding well-being in physical activities directly producing pleasures or even after accomplishing a heavy task? That is because you feel like real pleasure comes out of deliberately reflected upon activities. Reflection lines you among those whose mental frame of well-being is authentic happiness. If you are a painter for example, an exhibit at a museum would lead into well-being. You feel like original creations gives you a distinct identity. It is one you can relish on. Your creativity and the identity it creates for you affirms your autonomy. This kind of autonomy generates your sense of freedom hence well-being. You want to ensure that the life you live are out of values that is truly your own. You cannot find happiness in life resulting from values formed by social conditioning in the society. That is even if those values appear to make you a better life as it does with many or most people. Thus, “only what affects your happiness can benefit you". The end-result of your actions determines your well-being.

4. Well-being as well-functioning

Do you feel like well-being should be a fulfillment of human nature? Believers of this approach argue that human person’s most distinct quality is rationality. By rationality in relation to well-being, humans are well when their lives are governed by reason. Doing so makes a human being fulfill human nature. Your sharp preference for rationality over sentimentality makes your well-being precept as well-functioning. Heavily reliant on the process rather than on the end-result, you associate well-being with excellence, precision, or perfection. This you achieve by being virtuous. Living a virtuous life means habitual and constant practice of your craft. This leads to perfection. As Paulo Coelho said in The Archer “In order to understand your bow, it must become part of your arm and an extension of your thoughts.” When the arrow becomes you, there is not a shot you can miss. The degree of perfection you reach fulfills your nature as a human being. But before that, process and it could take a lifetime.

5. Well-being as list

Do you feel like other approaches to well-being could not help you grasp such broad concept as well-being? However you feel a need to grasp it so you grabbed a pen and paper to break things down into intuitive chunks? Your attitude towards well-being, then, is to make a list of things or activities that creates it. You are very specific in what you consider to produce well-being. On your list could be knowledge, nutrition, friendship, food supplements, college degree, business and the like.

Whether you think of well-being as pleasure, desire fulfillment, authentic happiness, well-functioning or list, there is always a way to be well. Your own sense of well-being is your window towards fulfillment. You can transcend, you can change precepts or you can simply be content. Whichever frame you look at well-being from, it is sure to make you create meaning and remarkable memories out this short and fragile human existence.

Which one is your approach in the five recognized theories of well-being? Tell us what you think on the comment section below.

Reference: Daniel M. Haybron, The Pursuit of Unhappiness: the Elusive Psychology of Well-Being (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

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