Chances are that each one of you will answer this question very differently.
Well-being is a very complex concept. Even so complex, that researchers continue to disagree on its meaning and its measurement. I will tell you a bit more about these different approaches to well-being. After that I will focus on how we try to overcome these differences with our unique concept of existential well-being.
So, what do the researchers say? Some researchers prefer to measure ‘objective’ well-being by means of objective criteria. These criteria can be for instance: your income, your level of education or your health. This is different from ‘subjective’ well-being. Here the researchers take account of what you yourself consider to be important for your well-being.
Another approach to well-being comes from Carol Ryff. She introduces the concept of psychological well-being. And she divides this concept into six categories: Self-acceptance, Positive relations with others, Autonomy, Environmental mastery, Purpose in life, and Personal growth.
How do we deal with these different definitions of well-being? Our approach is a holistic one in which we welcome different definitions. We want to increase your sensitivity to the complex interplay of factors in your own experience and your environment which define your well-being.
Inspired by Emmy van Deurzen, our colleague from the existential field, we are sensitive to different dimensions of human existence and we look at a person from a physical, a social, a personal and a spiritual perspective. This means that we pay attention to: your physical body and the material world, your social being in relation to others, your personal inner experience of your-self, and your spiritual transcendental essence.
We call this approach existential well-being, because it broadens and deepens the concept of well-being. Our existential well-being approach emphasizes that human beings always function at the same time within these dimensions. We do need to take into consideration that each individual as well as each community may attach more value to a specific dimension.
In each of these dimensions, different values are emphasized. In the physical domain, the important values are: physical health, safety, comfort, love of nature and beauty. In the social domain, the values are: esteem, success, solidarity, love for others and goodness. In the personal domain, the predominant values are: autonomy, freedom, knowledge, self-love and, truth. The spiritual domain encompasses values as: helpfulness, finding one’s place in the universe, contributing to a better world and love without self-interest. Our existential well-being approach involves values from the physical, the social, the personal and the spiritual dimension. For human beings, all these dimensions together contribute to satisfaction and fulfillment in life and improve well-being.