The Well of Being

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about well-being. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, I offered some ideas to help you become strengths savvy as we wrapped up our time talking about strengths. We examined the Aware, Explore, Apply (AEA) method (1), and I invited to you to continue to engage your strengths in new and creative ways that feel authentic to you.

Strengths are pathways to our best selves. Capitalizing on our strengths is particularly effective when the goal is to cultivate well-being (2, 3) and performance (4) simultaneously. In fact, using our character strengths can increase positive emotions, engagement, and meaning. Strengths can even offer us a lens to build positive relationships (5). Pretty powerful stuff!

This week, I want to turn our attention to well-being and begin to to be examine the questions - What does it mean to thrive? How do we get there? And what can we do to fill our well of being? 

There is no singular path to well-being. Well-being is created within. It is as individual as you are and arises from a dynamic intersection of various elements that come together to create the state of being comfortable, happy, healthy, successful… ‘well’.

What does that mean to you? 

What contributes to your personal well of being? Do you consider your social life, relationships, career, finances, and/or health part of your well-being? What else comes to mind?

Before we dive into a particular model of well-being, I want to recognize that there are many models of well-being with varying components out there. Ryff’s model of psychological well-being stands on the shoulders of many giants in the field of psychology and includes six elements: self-acceptance, positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth (6, 7). Check it out!

The flourishing scale includes eight elements in their model of well-being: positive relationships, purpose/meaning, self-respect, competence, engagement, social relationships, optimism and social contribution. (8). While Rath and Harter include five distinct but interrelated domains: career, social, financial, physical, and community in their popular book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (9).

Dr. Seligman suggests that well-being “is about what we choose for its own sake” (5). His original model, authentic happiness theory, included three elements: positive emotions, engagement, and meaning (10). He later expanded and re-conceptualized this model as a theory of well-being to include Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment or PERMA.

This week, I invite you to think about your well-being through the lens of PERMA. Imagine each element is a bucket that you can fill. Consider each element in turn and ask yourself how do you fill this bucket? Make a list of the things you do or people who help you fill up each of these buckets. 

Need help getting started?

Ask yourself these questions:

Positive Emotions: When do you feel happiness, contentment, joy, and/or hope? Be specific. Perhaps you are curled up at home with a good book? Out to dinner with friends? Outside soaking up the sun? On a hike? Working out? Or on a call with a loved one? Whatever it is, write it down!

Engagement: What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? When does time pass quickly?

Positive Relationships: Who supports you? Loves you? Values you? And who do you support, love, and value? What relationships are mutually beneficial? Who do you admire?

Meaning: When do you feel a sense of purpose, awe, or gratitude? What wakes you up in the morning? What do you value? Who or what are you willing to sacrifice for?

Accomplishment: What are you proud of? When have you been at your best? What goals have you strived for? What have you achieved? And what’s in progress?

Now, take a moment to rate yourself on a scale of one to ten for each bucket. If one is empty and ten is completely full, how full is your bucket for each pillar of well-being?

I hope you enjoy exploring your well of being this week! I look forward to seeing you again next Monday as we begin to take a closer look and dive into Positive Emotions!

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.


1. Niemiec R. VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In H. H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.), Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on positive psychology (pp. 11-30). New York: Springer; 2013.

2. Gander F, Proyer R, Ruch W, Wyss T. Strength-based positive interventions: further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2012; 1-19.

3. Buschor C, Proyer R, Ruch W. Self-and peer-rated character strengths: How do they relate to satisfaction with life and orientations to happiness?. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2013; 8(2), 116-127.

4. Dubreuil P, Forest J, Courcy F. From strengths use to work performance: The role of harmonious passion, subjective vitality, and concentration. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 2014; 9(4), 335-349.

5. Seligman M. Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and wellbeing. New York: Free Press; 2011. 

6. Ryff C. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1989; 57, 1069-1081.

7. Ryff C. Psychological well-being revisited: Advances in the science and practice of eudaimonia. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2014; 83(1), 10-28.

8. Diener E, Wirtz D, Tov W, Kim-Prieto C, Choi D, Oishi S, Biswas-Diener R. New well-being measures: Short scales to assess flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research. 2010; 97(2), 143-156. 

9. Rath T, Harter J. Wellbeing: The five essential elements. New York: Gallup Press; 2010. 

10. Seligman M. Authentic happiness. New York: Simon & Schuster; 2002.