by Dr Helen M Stallman
At its core, well-being encapsulates the deeply personal experience of existence. However, the experience of being varies drastically within our community. From the incessant endeavours of promoters urging us to acquire yet another product, to the mother courageously nurturing three children within the confines of a car, our experience of well-being is not as easy as saying, be happy.
As humans, we share fundamental needs that underpin our well-being. These needs include:
- Secure Shelter: The foundation of well-being rests upon having safe and stable housing, a sanctuary where we can rest our bodies.
- Safe Social Environment: A broader notion of security encompasses the spaces we inhabit—our homes, neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, and communities. A safe environment fosters a sense of stability and belonging. A social environment that embraces and values us is pivotal for our well-being. Feeling accepted and valued for who we are fosters a sense of connection and inclusion.
- Healthy Identity: A profound aspect of well-being involves having a healthy identity—an acceptance and appreciation of who we are, just as we are. This self-assuredness is an essential component of our overall contentment. A healthy identity helps us focus going towards others rather than inward.
- Physical Vitality: The health of our bodies contributes significantly to our overall well-being. Nurturing ourselves with proper sleep, nutrition, and physical activity forms the cornerstone of physical vitality.
- Network of Support: When life becomes overwhelming, having people with us provides crucial emotional sustenance. These connections help us weather storms and celebrate joys.
- Timely Care: Early access to effective treatments for illness and injury is an essential aspect of well-being, ensuring that our physical health is optimally maintained.
When our own basic needs are met, our well-being is enhanced when we become integral members of our communities. Our individual contributions to our community are intertwined, and our interdependence is a fundamental part of our survival. None of us can survive without others. As we endeavour to make a meaningful contribution, our focus shifts from self to others and to the broader world.
In a world brimming with diverse narratives, the pursuit of well-being encompasses both personal fulfilment and the collective betterment of our communities. By acknowledging our shared and different experiences and needs the diverse, we can collectively weave a tapestry where well-being is not merely a solitary aspiration or deficit, but a unifying force that brings us together in our quest for a brighter future.
Dr Helen Stallman is a leading expert in wellbeing, coping and suicide prevention. Her research has explored the intersection of health and wellbeing, challenging outdated constructs and advocating for an integrated perspective on wellbeing to prevent mental illness and suicide.