Recently I've been reading like crazy... probably making up for my lost time studying Greek every spare moment the last 9 months :) Since I spent several hours on planes last week, I had ample time to do just that.... which will lead to a few blog posts. Here's the first.
One of the books I read last week was called "Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements" It's the latest survey-summary type book from Gallop and the same people that created StrengthsFinder 2.0 (a book about discovering what you're good at and how to leverage your strongest passions and skill-set for maximum impact)
Wellbeing, instead of helping you discover your strengths, ironically... kind of assesses your weaknesses in an attempt to try and help you to develop a well rounded life. They claim that one's wellbeing can be summarized in 5 basic areas of your life, based on a worldwide survey:
- CAREER WELLBEING (enjoy your job)
- SOCIAL WELLBEING (good friendships/relationships)
- FINANCIAL WELLBEING (stress-free finances)
- PHYSICAL WELLBEING (healthy eating and exercise)
- COMMUNITY WELLBEING (feeling safe and invested where you live)
- SPIRITUAL WELLBEING is not on the list. Why? The authors said, "For many people, spirituality drives them in all these areas. Their faith is the most important facet of their lives, and it is the foundation of their daily efforts." As I read the study and it's implications for my life, I found myself concluding that the Bible has basically been teaching the same thing for thousands of years and wondering why I haven't been a better listener. I'm stupid.
- THE POWER OF MY DECISIONS: Speaking of stupid, the authors also concluded that, "The single biggest threat to our own wellbeing tends to be ourselves. Without even giving it much thought, we allow our short-term decisions to override what's best for our long-term wellbeing." As an example, most people would say, "I want to live a long, healthy life". But then we don't exercise regularly, get enough sleep, or eat healthy. There is a disconnect often between our longterm goals and our short term decisions. Really got me thinking again about my daily "small" decisions and how they all add up to produce the story of my life.
- WELLBEING AROUND THE WORLD: Let me try and explain. The book has Gallop's survey results at the end that are organized by a variety of criteria, one of which is by continent. What was most interesting to me is what the survey found if you compared The Americas with Africa. They list the countries on each continent in order according to the percentage of people in the country that claim to be "thriving" based on a representative survey sample. Regarding "The Americas", the United States is listed #4. (No, we're not the best country in the world. Duh.) Canada, Mexico, and Panama were ranked in that order as the top 3. (interesting that a "3rd world" country like Mexico would rank #2) However what is more interesting to me was that if you compared the Americas to the 36 countries in Africa, you'll find that if you live in the vast majority of North or South America, no matter how bad it is, the overall wellbeing of your peers is rated better than anyone living anywhere in Africa. This reminded me how spoiled I am and how jacked up our planet really is. Also made me think of people who I know in other countries who would not have passed this wellbeing test very well, but whose life is lived way more significant. I think Spirituality not only drives one's wellbeing, but redefines the categories pretty radically too.