Why Wellbeing? The Benefits of Wellbeing
Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. So why should you invest time, effort, or money in optimising your own wellbeing? Many believe that wellbeing and happiness are inherently valuable – meaning that feeling happy is worthwhile as an end in itself. However others take more convincing. So is there any pay off for investing in wellbeing beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with happiness? Until more recently, this question had been relatively ignored as far as scientific research is concerned. However, since the inception of Positive Psychology, an abundance of research investigating the benefits of happiness and wellbeing has emerged. This has resulted in the identification of numerous psychological, social, physical health, and productivity benefits of happiness and wellbeing, some of which are highlighted below.
Physical Health Benefits
The experience of greater degrees of happiness and well-being has now been strongly linked to many physical health benefits, highlighting the connection between the body and the mind (i.e. healthy mind = healthy body). Individuals with high happiness and wellbeing have been found to have:
- Lower incidences of cardiovascular disease (1), stroke (2), and sleeping difficulties (3).
- Lower levels of cortisol (i.e. stress hormone) (3), less self-reported physical symptoms and pain (4), a decreased risk of automobile fatality (5), and a decreased likelihood of engaging in unhealthy behaviours (e.g., smoking) (6)
- Increased likelihood of engaging in health promoting activities (e.g. exercising) (7), longer survival times following an illness (8), and quickened physical recovery and return to normal activities following surgery (9)
- Speaking more broadly, a relationship has been observed between wellbeing and a decreased risk of all causes of death (i.e. increased overall longevity) (6)
Many social and psychological benefits of happiness and wellbeing have also been observed. Those individuals with higher degrees of happiness have been found to also have:
- Increased self-esteem (4), optimism (10), a sense of personal competence (11), pro-social and altruistic behaviour (12), interpersonal skills (4), and higher satisfaction with the quality of one’s relationships (13)
- Heightened ability to cope and remain positive during difficult times (14), and an increased likelihood of receiving emotional and tangible assistance (15)
- Happy people are less inclined to feel jealous (16), less likely to experience conflict and more likely to be superior at resolving conflict (17)
- They are more accepting and less critical of themselves and others (18), and are judged as more physically attractive, intelligent, competent, friendly, and warm than their less happy counterparts (4)
- Happiness has also been found to lead to an increased number of reliable and supportive friends (19)
- Those high on well-being have also been found to contribute to their communities by volunteering their time (12)
Productivity and Creativity Benefits
Happiness and well-being has also been directly linked with many work and employment related benefits, including:
- An increased likelihood of graduating from university, higher rates of job attainment, more positive supervisor evaluations, superior performance and productivity, organization citizenship behaviour (i.e. acts that go beyond the requirements of the job, such as helping other people at work in various ways) and a greater ability to handle managerial position (4)
- Those with high degrees of happiness have also been found to be less likely to show counter-productive workplace behaviour and job burnout (4)
- Personal income has been found increase with well-being, and some such research suggests that well-being precedes and potentially causes the increase in income (i.e. happier people go on to earn higher incomes than unhappy people) (20)
- Happy people have also been found to score higher on measures of creativity (15), report higher self-confidence (21), perform better on complex mental tasks (22), and to be better and more efficient decision makers (23)
- The vast benefits associated with happiness and wellbeing highlighted above, strongly suggests we should all make an investment in our wellbeing.
Contact Vitalise today to make an appointment with one of our psychologists who specialises in Wellbeing Enhancement.
Margin Seligman discusses the benefits of wellbeing
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