Our Well-Being

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“Life is an attempt to change a piece of a dream-world into reality.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

British Airways recently released data from two somewhat sad studies, which revealed two of the biggest regrets of 2,000 U.S. baby boomers – that they worked too much and didn’t travel enough. Not much new there!

Some of the study’s findings:

  • 17 percent of male respondents said that working too much was their biggest regret
  • 22 percent of women said not traveling enough was their biggest regret
  • 26 percent of respondents said losing contact with friends was their biggest regret

Regrets. Need they be? Are we able to make choices in the physical, social and emotional areas of our lives that can influence our well-being? Of course we can.

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In another survey of over 2 million Americans, Gallup-Healthways’ found that poor financial management can actually cause obesity (not just a correlation). Ed Diener, author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, says that the key to greater well-being is to have money but not to want it too much. Not surprisingly, there are strategies people of all ages can use to relieve financial stress and thereby lose weight and live longer. (See suggestion at post’s end).

One physical area of our lives that significantly affects our well-being is the workplace and what we do to earn a living. According to Claremont University psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it’s best to find a job that challenges us to an optimal level – one that’s neither so hard that we give up nor so easy that we get bored. Finding a job that engages your natural talents and gives you constant feedback is sure to contribute to your well-being. You know this, right?

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Two years ago I posted (here) about existing or thriving. I suspect you would agree that a thriving life is vital to our well-being.  If you are interested in optimizing (or perhaps, simply adding positively to) your life and thus your well-being, following are three considerations:

  1. Embrace a sense of safety. Research shows the biggest deterrent to physical activity for some people is perceived danger. You want the outside environment to draw you out, not nudge you in.
  2. Make it a lifelong and relentless habit to exercise serious caution when it comes to anyone who or anything that wants to touch your money or your welfare.
  3. Grow a garden. Several studies have shown that gardening lowers stress hormones. Hoeing, planting, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting all include regular, low-intensity, range-of-motion exercise.

And while you’re at it, create time to play. Get a passport or just reintroduce yourself to life’s simple pleasures.

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51 thoughts on “Our Well-Being

  1. To err on the side of caution makes sense.I see this in #1 lesson. I like your garden suggestion, or find a meaningful craft which engages your creative juices, woodwork, art, music, weaving or sewing . . . and travel fits in with Fun. I will hope to travel again but I have family fun time at least 3 times a week. Blogging (writing is a craft of sorts) and painting fill many hours a week, Eric. This was a lovely set of lessons to try to follow. 🙂

    • I sense you are both aware of and choose to practice pursuits that aid your well-being, Robin. Brava! Your suggestion that spending time with meaningful crafts can be equally fulfilling is true and without doubt, family fun time can produce immeasurable benefit. Thanks for adding your positive perspectives!

      • I like finding beauty close by, there are blue limestone quarries, two reservoirs, a Waterfall in Dublin (Ohio) and one near Columbus. Indoors, there are the Art Museum, Zoo, and COSI, the central Ohio science institute.
        I study the way the sky changes daily. The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Mexico and the way the vineyards growing along Lake Erie, the National Museums in Madrid, then Toronto and Quebec’s French sections (Quarters) and Niagara Falls are still fresh, thank goodness in my brain, Eric. If only everyone could go a little farther than they did before, they would find one mystery or treasure to fill their “hidden resource,” “treasure chest” or mind. 🙂

  2. Your final bit of advice resonates the loudest with me: play. It is far too easy to take life so seriously that play is pushed aside and maybe that is what we need most – to add a little levity to our lives 🙂

    • Indeed, play, Mary! I am as guilty as others for taking myself and my activities too seriously. Each time someone (in this case you) prompts me to ‘reset’ I make conscious efforts to weave play and fun into whatever I am doing – whenever possible. Thanks for your uplifting comment. 🙂

  3. Yes Eric, it is very much in our own hands to take care of us yet we tend to follow the world, the compulsions of living according to the accepted norms that society expects from us and we choose to rush, rush rush…to catch all that lures us…and the race continues till we realise it is enough!

    Travel is therapeutic if we know how to slow down and relax…the best way to keep thriving!

    • Ahh, ” the race”, Balroop. Crazy isn’t it? I agree that travel can be therapeutic, as can many activities. We simply need to be intentional and create time to nurture our personal well-being. As you, I and many others know, it comes down to making conscious choices that work for us – and not for ‘the world.’ Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

    • I concur on both counts, Malcolm; it’s a strange finding and just start small and grow from there. Apparently this is easier said than done for some (perhaps many?) people. Who knows what personal experiences or fright factors might adversely (and unnecessarily) influence decisions here. Kudos to those who simply choose forward progress!

    • I believe that is often the case, Colleen. And when there is an imbalance, we tend to overcompensate in some other area to try to rebalance. And what’s with your capitalizing “IF”? 🙂

      • Hahahahaha, the IF is actually a typo. I tend to capitalize 2 letters in a row because I don’t let go of the ‘shift’ quick enough. I do it so often I don’t fix it most times. 😉

        Rebalancing is a good term. I know I do that.

  4. Interesting about the exercise and perceived danger. What were the dangers? I’d have thought people would have seen no exercise as a danger! I certainly would as it would seriously threaten my sanity.
    I’ve never understood sedentary types!

    • I do not know what the dangers were, Jean. I suspect if one wants to dig deeper into the Gallup-Healthways’ survey there might be some telling nuggets. We who value and appreciate exercise and its incumbent benefits know why we choose to do it, even if there were/are some (and I believe the operative word here is) perceived danger. The maxim “to each his own” seems to fit in here. 🙂

  5. My own thoughts are that no matter how busy I am I try to take the time to ‘smell the roses’ to appreciate all I have at least once every day.

    • Whatever we call it, Tric (and I happen to like the sensory “smell the roses”), it pays dividends – even if it is only for a brief moment. Good on you for creating time to acknowledge all with which you are blessed!

  6. I shall take your advice, and go out to the garden. I’ve been procrastinating and reading blogs, and will take your advice as a sign to get up and go. There are seeds to be started and shrubs to be pruned and all manner of gardening things to be done. I can vouch for gardening’s calming influence. It’s very meditative. 🙂

    • Truth be acknowledged, Robin, I suspect there are many of us who procrastinate and spend (inordinate?) time reading blogs. Bravo on your choosing to ‘get up and go.’ And if gardening brings you that calm, then revel in it!

  7. We’re going for round two with the garden this year! Had great success last year (the massive amounts of rain in June really, really helped) and hoping for more of the same this time around. Planted six items in pots, ahead of the spring planting outdoors. So far so good. Really do enjoy caring for the plants and watching them grow. Good stuff! I very much agree with the point of benefits coming from gardening. It can be very rewarding.

    • Rain… what it this rain you speak of? We who reside in the High Desert appreciate our xeriscapes yet they do not always allow for/satisfy one’s desire to truly garden. Have fun watching your potted juveniles grow, Brian. 🙂

    • Glad the post serves as a useful reminder, Silvia. Even if our blogging messages prompt a slight shift – in any positive direction, then they are worth our efforts. Here’s to living life, fully!

  8. Great post Eric. Taking up yoga has been my path to well being. Now I get to share the goodness with others. It doesn’t get much better than this for a healthy life with meaning in retirement!

    • Finding and regularly engaging in activity that brings goodness to others; what could be more fulfilling, Val? 🙂 Wishing you all the best with your shared, meaningful yoga experiences!

  9. I read about this last week… I think the exact same survey you are talking about. It put a perspective in me as right now I am what you will call in the “prime of activities” at 25. Things I believe in, may not be so in the long term. The weighing scale for each is different and I hope I pick the best – heavy or light.

    • I suspect your heart and mind, working in tandem, enable you to pick what is most valuable for you, Prajakta. And choosing what is best for your well-being becomes increasingly meaningful as you become more chronologically gifted. 🙂

  10. Such a great article! Stress and regrets come from our fear to be unable to please people around us and fit to the society’s standards. Our well being should be the main focus before we start trying to please those who are around us. Keep it up with the amazing writing!

    Zaria

    • Thank you, Zaria. We share similar views when it comes to our well-being. Keeping it at the fore of our focus will likely yield healthy experiences and outcomes. And that is what most of seek, right?

  11. It all comes back to having balance. I don’t necessarily have a job that I like it, but I don’t ever let it define me. I work hard, play hard. 🙂

  12. Your comment burst a bubble,Rommel. Ever since I have followed and read your posts, I sensed your work is what has afforded you so many of your amazing travel opportunities. And now we learn that you don’t necessarily like it. Can I have it then? 🙂 Not allowing anything, including what we do to earn a living, to define us is significant. It’s good to know that you simply wave that off.

  13. So glad I read this today as I’m feeling the travel bug again, this time for India. And I have many voices telling me why it’s not practical to plan this journey…but when I think about it, it’s kind of insane to continue doing what I’m doing when it doesn’t make me happy. Actually, it’s not that I’m unhappy – it’s more that the opportunity for adventure is calling, and there’s really no reason to pass that up. Thanks Eric! 🙂

    • When those “many voices” become a cacophony, Aleya, I believe we know which ‘one’ to tune into and heed. For me, when adventure calls, I already have my bag packed. Here’s to your not passing up on what really matters – to you!

  14. Great post and good advice, Eric! Right now I’m busy, as you know, but that is by choice. There was something very challenging and truly meaningful I wanted (really, needed) to do, but only for a limited time. Then (very soon now) I will take a well deserved brake and look after my physical well-being and connecting with friends better than I’m doing at the moment. I don’t want to have any of these usual regrets 🙂

  15. Two out of three ain’t bad as they say Eric. I have travelled the world. I am not working full time and doing what I love its so beneficial in all aspects of my life. I do need to contact old friends and try to organise more family catch ups though. Life is way too short to have regrets.

  16. Warming to learn that there is so much that is beneficial in your life, Kath. Keeping focused on and occupied with matters that are meaningful seems (to me to be) equal parts inspiring and grounding. Here’s to your contacting some of your old friends and reconnecting with people who help you to see how blessed you are!

  17. Hey Eric,
    Reading through your posts has been great. I love how you give practical advice in your articles.
    Awareness for baby boomers is a good niche to be in, and well needed. You inspire some wonderful dialogue too. Thank you for the follow. That is what brought me over here, and I followed you back. I see many of my friends here already! This WordPress community is such a gift. I look forward to reading more of your writing, and I love having you over to my site to walk within the beauty of Nature. I love how Nature metaphors all that is going on inside. The outer mirrors the inner.

    Have a wonderful day, Eric. I’ll see you around. 🙂

    Peace
    Mary

    • You are welcome, Mary. Thank you for creating time to read, comment on this post and follow the blog. Yes, it is enjoyable to see many of our fellow bloggers exploring others’ posts. Here’s to more people’s ‘inners’ shining outward and illuminating brightly. 🙂 Wishing you a great weekend ahead!

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