Wellbeing Wizard

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Subjective Wellbeing
Written by Mark Millard   

Subjective wellbeing (subjective well-being, SWB) is a more technical term for wellbeing used by researchers.

For most practical purposes 'wellbeing' and 'subjective wellbeing' mean the same thing:

Wellbeing = Life Satisfaction + Positive Feelings - Negative Feelings

In other words our sense of wellbeing depends on 3 things:

  • How satisfied we are with our lives, overall and within specific areas - work, relationships, health etc
  • How often we feel good and experience positive emotions - e.g. happiness, confidence & optimism
  • How often we feel bad and experience negative emotions - e.g. fear, anger or distress

Our sense of wellbeing is therefore an entirely subjective judgement based  on the thoughts and feelings we have about our own lives. 

Wellbeing is not about what our lives are like in an objective sense (health, wealth, achievements etc) it's about how we think and feel about our lives.  It's not about what we have or haven't got, it's about how happy and contented we are with what we have.

Ways to Wellbeing

Wellbeing = Life Satisfaction + Positive Feelings - Negative Feelings

This formula points to 4 broad approaches we can use to enhance our sense of wellbeing.  The first 2 are about boosting our sense of satisfaction:

Life Satisfaction = Where I am - Where I want to be

First, we can increase our sense of satisfaction by pursuing our goals and moving our life more in line with where we want to be.

Second, we can adjust our expectations or priorities so they better fit where we actually are, or become more positive in our assessment of where we actually are.

Third, we can increase the positive emotions in our life, by doing more of the things that make us feel good and/or becoming more mindful of the good things that are already there.

Finally we can seek to reduce the occurence or the impact of the things in our lives that make us feel bad.

Wellbeing Questionnaire

The Wellbeing Questionnaire has been specifically designed to help you identify which sorts of approach might do most for your wellbeing:

  • The Life Satisfaction questions help you identify where you feel more and less contented
  • The Feelings questions help you identify the balance of positive and negative emotions you experience
  • The Suggestions show you the sorts of activities that have worked best for people with similar score to yours

These results and suggestions can be incorporated into an evidence-based wellbeing plan.

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