Positive wellbeing: achieve it, keep it!

The concept of wellbeing isn’t a new one, even if the term is (relatively). Human beings have been seeking positive wellbeing for as long as there have been human beings because being ‘comfortable, healthy and happy’ is a primary human drive or instinct. In my work, I look at the areas below when supporting people with their wellbeing:

  • Identity, their self-esteem and self-worth
  • Home and family life
  • Relationships
  • Career/professional development
  • Health (mental and/or physical)
  • Financial
  • Lifestyle
  • Social and cultural
  • Environment

However, wellbeing can be easier to define than attain as it requires constant investment as we move through different life stages. For example, positive wellbeing to someone in their twenties will be very different to someone in their fifties. My professions, coaching and therapy, are just two of many that help people with their wellbeing. In my blog, I discuss six practical strategies you can use to recognise and achieve your ideal state of wellbeing.

happy person eating sweets and looking at their mobile phone because they have positive wellbeing

1) Positive wellbeing requires positive conversations

Conversations can take many forms, from intimate ones with ourselves and those closest to us to less meaningful interactions. All conversations have in common, though, the ability to make us feel a certain way and impact our lives. Consequently, having positive conversations is integral to establishing positive wellbeing. As individuals, we need to:

  • differentiate between conversations that support our wellbeing and undermine it
  • make decisions about who can play a role in our lives and who can’t
  • what role someone can play in our lives and its extent

It can be tricky, though, to know what we need from our conversations to support our wellbeing and how to get it. As a coach and therapist, I often help people with this challenge by taking them through my Conversations With Impact Questionnaires, which I have set out in the two sections below.

Activity: conversations with others

When scoring your conversations, consider the importance of each quality or characteristic to you. Choose a number between 1 and 7 (1=none at all, 7=all that you need) that reflects the degree to which a conversation possesses each quality or characteristic. If one is not essential to you, i.e. it makes no difference one way or the other, give it a 7. For those that are important to you, score it appropriately.

  • I trust the person
  • They understand me and what I need from them
  • I feel respected by them
  • They have the ideas, skills and knowledge I need
  • They do not judge me and accept me for who I am
  • They have the ideas, skills and knowledge I need
  • The conversation follows my agenda, not theirs
  • They believe in me and my potential for change
  • They give me the time that I need
  • I feel challenged by them in a good way
  • They respect my need for confidentiality
  • I feel they genuinely listen to me
  • I can say what I really want to them
  • They are truly interested in me
  • They help me to make sense of my situation
  • They help me set clear, realistic goals and strategies
  • They help me find solutions
  • My conversations with them make a difference

They have the X-Factor

Activity: conversations with yourself

When scoring your conversations, consider the importance of each quality or characteristic to you. Choose a number between 1 and 7 that reflects the degree to which your self-talk possesses each quality or characteristic. If one is not essential to you, i.e. it makes no difference one way or the other, give it a 7. For those that are important to you, score it appropriately.

  • I trust myself I believe in myself and my potential for change
  • I respect myself
  • I challenge myself in a good way
  • I do not judge myself and accept myself for who I am
  • I genuinely listen to myself
  • My self-talk follows my agenda, not others’
  • I am truly interested in myself
  • I give myself the time I need
  • I can make sense of my situation
  • I respect my confidentiality and do not overshare
  • I set clear, realistic goals and strategies for myself
  • I can say what I really want to myself
  • I can find solutions by myself
  • I understand myself and what I need from me
  • My conversations and self-talk make a difference
  • I have the ideas, skills and knowledge I need
  • I can look at myself objectively
  • I have the X-Factor

What did you discover? Hopefully, you now have a much better idea of which conversations support your positive wellbeing and the right ask for and make changes to those that don’t. Conversations and the relationships they arise from can be complex, but what should be more straightforward is what we do with those beneficial for our wellbeing and those that are not.

2) Using emotions for positive wellbeing

The concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) is a popular one. A great definition I came across in my coaching training was: EQ=the intelligent use of emotions. But how do we use them ‘intelligently’ to enjoy positive wellbeing? My approach is to think of emotions as two-part messages sent from what I call our ’emotional self’ about our wellbeing. The first part of the message concerns the current state of our wellbeing and its causes. The second part addresses how near or far our emotional self thinks we are from acquiring positive wellbeing. It follows that:

  • difficult, unhelpful emotions are how our emotional self expresses its concern about the state of our wellbeing and our ability to improve it, and
  • helpful, positive emotions are how our emotional self communicates its contentment with the state of our wellbeing and our ability to either improve it if it is poor or maintain it if it is in good shape

Identifying the causes of our wellbeing is relatively easy to achieve. Look back at the areas I listed in my introduction; these are the causes – for all of us. What can be more complicated is transforming poor wellbeing into positive wellbeing, which is why blogs like this and people like me exist. Fairly or unfairly, our emotional selves are only reassured when we know the causes of and solutions to our wellbeing, and for this, we need EQ.

Activity: looking at the areas listed in the introduction, use a 0-10 scale (0=very unhappy, 10=very happy) to indicate how content you are in each. Then tune into your emotions, those you experience most of the time. Can you see a connection?

As a rule:

  • scores 4 or below suggest an area is actively undermining your wellbeing
  • scores 5 or 6 suggest an area isn’t making much of a difference either way
  • scores 7 or above suggest an area is actively boosting your wellbeing

What did you discover? Did you know your causes and solutions? Causes but not solutions? Neither? What do you need to continue, or what do you need to address?

3) Establishing positive patterns

As human beings, we function in the following four areas:

  • patterns of thought
  • patterns of behaviour
  • patterns of feeling
  • patterns of relating (people, places and objects)

Unsurprisingly, helpful patterns create positive wellbeing, and unhelpful ones undermine it. The critical point is to know whether our patterns are beneficial or not. And to discover this, we need to use the most important of our emotional intelligences: self-awareness, which is the ability to become aware of our internal and external experiences. Self-awareness allows us to become aware of our thoughts, behaviours, feelings and relationships, and once we are, it enables us to assess and decide whether they are helping or hindering our wellbeing.

Activity: answer the questions below to help you build a picture of your current wellbeing. Taking your answers, reflect on how you think, behave, feel and relate, explains them.

  • Where are you when your wellbeing is most positive?
  • When is your wellbeing most positive?
  • What stressors or changes in your routine do you know undermine your wellbeing?
  • What positive elements or changes in your routine do you know improve your wellbeing?
  • How often do your periods of positive wellbeing occur, and how long do they last?
  • How often do your periods of poor wellbeing occur, and how long do they last?
  • What significant persons are present or absent when your wellbeing is positive?
  • What significant persons are present or absent when your wellbeing is poor?
  • What are the steps or stages you go through to achieve positive wellbeing? And can you identify the steps you through when your wellbeing deteriorates?
  • What do you think other people know about your current wellbeing, e.g. friends, family or colleagues? Do they overestimate or underestimate it? Or do they get it right?
  • What are your thoughts and beliefs about your wellbeing and your ability to influence it? Are they negative, e.g. I will never enjoy positive wellbeing or how to achieve it? Or are they positive, e.g. I can enjoy positive wellbeing and know how to reach it?

What did you discover? Can you see a connection between your patterns and your wellbeing? What do you need to do with your patterns? Keep them as they are or make changes?

4) Finding acceptance

Achieving positive wellbeing requires constant personal and professional investment in the areas listed above. There is no escaping the fact that positive wellbeing can be hard work at times. And herein lies the danger. If we conclude, as many people do, that it feels too difficult, wellbeing is an easy candidate for relegation down our priority list. In the moment, this doesn’t cost us a great deal, but in the long term, it can exact a price in terms of quality of life.

So how do we keep our wellbeing a priority? The answer is through acceptance. Acceptance removes the debate over wellbeing; it means other factors, such as time or tiredness, do not dislodge it from our lives. By accepting its necessity, we avoid entertaining the fantasy, yes fantasy, that we can flourish in life without prioritising our wellbeing. Acceptance becomes possible when we create an emotionally compelling vision of our lives based on positive wellbeing. Put another way; we are willing to put the work in when we can see it will be worth it.

PLEASE REMEMBER! If you find acceptance a struggle, it is NOT because you are incapable. It is because you don’t – yet – have that emotionally compelling vision, which I hope my blog can help you to find either by yourself or with effective support.

5) The Challenge of positive wellbeing

As with acceptance, when we struggle to rise to the challenge of positive wellbeing, it is NOT because we can’t succeed but because we don’t know how. When we know how, we reduce the scale of the challenge, transforming it from impossible to possible. And the ‘how’ of positive wellbeing is all about resources. When we have the right resources, we progress; when we don’t, we become stuck.

Below is a list of resources we need for positive wellbeing. Have a look at the different types of, then do the activity underneath.

  1. Resources: do I have what I need, such as information and knowledge? If I don’t, can I acquire them myself, or does someone else have what I need?
  2. Skills and abilities: do I have the necessary skills and abilities? If I don’t, can I develop them myself, or will I need support?
  3. Confidence and belief: do I have enough? If I don’t, can I build these qualities on my own, or will I need support?
  4. Wellbeing: do I feel resilient enough? If I don’t, is boosting my wellbeing something I can do by myself, or will I need to involve someone else?
  5. Support: do I have the support I need? If I don’t, who will provide it?
  6. Motivation: do I feel motivated enough? If I don’t, can I motivate myself, or will I need encouragement from someone else?
  7. Time: do I have enough time? If I don’t, how can I find the time I need? Is this the right time? If it isn’t, when will it be?
  8. Environment: am I in the right environment? Or do I need to be somewhere else?
  9. Strategy: do I have the right strategies? If I don’t, how will I acquire them? By myself or with support?

Activity: The Challenge Audit

Looking at the 9 resources above, choose a number between 0 and 10 representing how confident you are that you have the right amount of each resource. When thinking about what you need, keep in mind the specific challenge you are tackling – wellbeing. As a general rule:

  • Any category scored 7 or above suggests you have enough of this resource
  • 5 or 6 could be enough, but might not be
  • 4 or below means you have too little

What did you discover? If you have found it hard to tackle your wellbeing, I hope you can now see that this is NOT because of some flaw in your character or personality, but because you lack the necessary resources, a crucial distinction. Be kind to yourself and commit to finding what you need.

6) And finally: transformation

The sixth and final strategy encourages you to see positive wellbeing as both the journey and the destination. The journey consists of the day-to-day steps, the destination where you want to finish. The beauty of this idea means it does not matter where you begin because:

  • The right journey creates the desired destination
  • The desired destination creates the right journey

If you start with the journey, it could go like this. To transform your wellbeing, you decide to focus on (see list of areas above) your health and your relationships. Beginning with the journey, you choose to:

  • Book 10 sessions with a Personal Trainer
  • Arrange to see a Dietician/Nutritionist
  • Speak to a life coach about how you can become more confident and assertive

Initially, you have no idea where this activity will take you, but as your journey unfolds, you see and feel the impact of the investment you are making. Halfway into your adventure, you have lost weight, are eating healthily and are more confident and assertive. And then one day, you arrive at your destination:

  • You achieve your ideal weight and know how to maintain it
  • All of your meals are planned and cooked by yourself
  • Some people are no longer in your life, and those that are you feel closer to

Alternatively, if you begin with your destination, it could go this way. You engage in some time-travelling and visualise how you would like your health and relationships to be. What emerges is a vision of you:

  • completing a 10k run
  • eating healthy meals, you have cooked yourself
  • saying no more often to people who take from you, but don’t give

Turning around, you look back at the journey needed to arrive at your destination and:

  • Book 10 sessions with a Personal Trainer
  • Arrange to see a Dietician/Nutritionist
  • Speak to a life coach about how you can become more confident and assertive

Over to you.

Activity: return to the list of areas in the introduction and choose those you feel are the most important for your wellbeing. If you are unsure, use a 0-10 scale (0=not important, 10=very important) to help you decide your priority and non-priority areas. Taking your chosen areas, give yourself time, i.e. days or even longer, to create some possible journeys and destinations. Are they achievable by yourself and with your existing support network? Or do you need someone new to support you?

Getting support for positive wellbeing

I hope you have enjoyed my blog, Positive wellbeing: achieve it, keep it! If you would like support for your wellbeing, I’d love to hear from you. My IMPACT Model and IMPACT Programmes have helped many people effectively use the six strategies in my blog.

To book an initial consultation, visit my Make a Booking page. You will have the opportunity to tell me about what you are going through and find out how I can support you. Even if you choose not to work with me, I promise your consultation will give you more ideas, knowledge and insight than you had before.