What Is General Well-Being, Exactly?

What Is General Well-Being, Exactly?

General well-being is the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively. Feeling good incorporates not only the positive emotions of happiness and contentment, but also those of interest, engagement, confidence, and affection. The concept of effective functioning involves the development of one’s potential, exercising control over one’s life, having a sense of purpose, engaging in meaningful activities, and experiencing positive relationships. Sustainable well-being does not imply that individuals feel good all the time, but rather that they possess the ability to optimally manage negative or painful emotions.

In recent years, research in psychology has experienced an exciting paradigm shift, moving from an emphasis on deficits and dysfunction to a focus on well-being and the promotion of positive mental health. This shift – driven by several factors including the realization that well-being is more than simply the absence of ill being – has lead to several interesting conclusions:
• Well being is associated with creative thinking, pro-social behavior, and good physical health
Tip: Engage in stimulating activities (i.e. painting, writing, playing an instrument, cooking, to name a few) and don’t forget to exercise!
• An individual’s level of well being is heavily influenced by her/his early and present environment
Tip: Surround yourself with people you enjoy and with things that make you happy!
• A hostile early environment can produce lifelong behavioral and psychological impairments, but compensation is possible at later stages in life
Tip: Make room (even if your schedule is busy!) for pleasurable and meaningful activities to enhance your general well being.
• While external circumstances affect our well being, our attitudes and the way we react to events or situations have a greater influence
Tip: When confronted with difficult situations, remind yourself that ultimately, you are in control! Circumstances do not control you!
• Psychological interventions should aim to not only treat those already suffering from mental disorders, but should also intend to help individuals learn how to promote and maintain an optimal level of well being
Tip: consider consulting a Montreal psychologist or therapist to learn how to maintain an optimal level of general well-being.

By focusing on human assets rather than deficits, we will soon be able to not only better understand the behavioral, biological, and social pathways of well being, but will be able to benefit individuals, making for a healthier society!

Huppert, F., Psychological Well-being: Evidence Regarding its Causes and Consequences. 2009. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1, 137-164.


About the Author:

Dr Chow is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private clinic in Saint-Laurent (Montreal) and in Saint-Lambert on the South Shore. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Concordia University. She is also a member of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec.

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