Friday, March 21, 2008

Five Supports of Well-Being

In trying to bolster support for myself, I've been taking stock of what I regard as my five supports of well-being: my spiritual life, my intellectual life, my musical life, my relationships, and my physical health/fitness. If all of these are going reasonably well in my life, I feel well-supported and meaningfully engaged with the world around me.

I've seen other lists of the basic aspects of life and well being. Sometimes there are four: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. More secular sources sometimes list just three: physical, mental, psychological. Occasionally even mental/intellectual is dropped off as a separate category, included as part of "psychological."

Admittedly, in my own listing of five there can be overlap. For example, in my way of conceptualizing these, "spiritual" really includes all the rest; "music" and "relationships" both relate to the emotional dimension of life; and my listing maybe ignores an overall assessment of psychological well-being (in part because I subsume that within the "spiritual"); etc.

But I would like to offer a generalized version of my five supports for others to consider. The generalized version would look like this: spiritual; mental/intellectual; creativity; relationships; physical health/fitness.

Here are some descriptions:

1. Spiritual: Sense of wholeness, integrity, integration. Sense of meaning or purpose to your life. A sense of what your life is all about in relation to ultimate reality.

2. Mental/intellectual: What you are learning. Inputs into your life and understanding. Letting more and more reality into your being and comprehension.

3. Creativity: What you have to give to the world. What you uniquely offer. Your expressive powers. What difference you make. What love, beauty, wisdom you give back to the world.

4. Relationships: Overall quality of your relationships. How well-supported you feel by family, friends, and colleagues. Whether you feel a good sense of belonging. Whether you experience meaningful connection with those around you. What people value about you. What you give in relationships.

5. Physical health/fitness: Assessment of your overall health. How well you manage any health limitations you may have. Assessment of your fitness level. How well you take care of your physical well-being.

I have been finding it helpful to take stock of the state of each of these in my own life right now.

Then I think about how I would like each of these to be (what my vision for myself is in each of these respects).

Then I consider what small step I can take to bring each of these to a stronger level (because for myself, I find all five supports still standing, but with serious cracks!). For those who find one or more strong enough, then you can ask which one(s) most need attention, and consider what you can do to strengthen the one(s) that need strengthening.

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