“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
— Henry David Thoreau
In his amazing book Flourish, Martin Seligman uses an analogy for happiness and well-being, with the former being a thing, and the latter a construct.
Weather is a construct made up of many things. Humidity, wind, barometric pressure, etc. Weather in of itself, is not a single thing.
Well-being is a construct made up of many things. Relationships, meaning, emotions, physiological/physical health and functioning, and much more. Well-being in of itself, is not a single thing.
Looking deeper within these things, are many other variables. For example, we could break down relationships into smaller variables like communication and peer recognition.
This is not just about semantics. This is about quantifying the metrics that matter the most to your organization, and being able to discuss things in their relation to the larger whole — the construct. Think about how most of us have tried to breakdown what it means to live successfully, fully, or insert whatever word you want for defining your optimal life. We all tend to narrow in and highlight a single thing.
“Living fully is about this!”
“No! It’s about this!”
If you want to increase your organizational well-being and really create a vibrant culture, you have to understand your entire construct.
What does this look like? It means understanding your companies vision, identity, and goals, while creating alignment between your current culture and your prospective wellness initiatives.
This is why we can’t run another workplace step or water challenge and then say we have done our job. In light of the larger picture — of well-being — we have only scratched the surface.
But if we can place those initiatives into a system which honours an overall vision and construct unique to your organization, we can create a greater sense of purpose for our team to get behind.
Taking Seligman’s analogy further, I will add:
People want to know the weather — not just the barometric pressure.
People want abundant wellness— not just happiness.
The difference here is that we have spoke enough about the weather in a way for which people to understand rather clearly — and on what matters most to us. But we have unknowingly mixed up the conversation on what well-being really is, and what we need to focus on.
Let’s start talking about well-being in it’s entirety: Meaning and purpose, relationships, engagement, mastery, physical health, mental health, and emotional health. Then asking, “how do all of these metrics fit into our ideal wellness culture?”
From here we can reverse engineer how to get to this optimal state, on an individualized basis.
Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If this post did help you, consider sharing it with someone you think it would help too.