Reaching for peace and fulfillment (it's closer than you may think)
Psychological wellbeing captures a lot of what typically comes to mind when we think of people who have great mental health. Things like “being comfortable in our own skin”, “learning and growing”, and “doing things that matter to us” all fall into this area of wellbeing. There are 6 dimensions of psychological well-being, which we’ll explain for you below. Ultimately, when we have high psychological wellbeing, we feel at peace with ourselves and like we're fulfilling our potential and purpose. Pretty great feelings, right? Read on to learn the six components of psychological wellbeing which will help you get there.
1. Self-acceptance: “I like most parts of myself” When we have high levels of self-acceptance, we typically think well of ourselves overall (this may be obvious, but it’s important to fully acknowledge). Diving deeper, to have high self-acceptance, we need to have a high awareness and acknowledgement of the different aspects of ourselves, including both our “good” and “bad” qualities.
Remember, you can accept something about yourself, like a physical feature or character quirk, even if you don’t like it (for more on this, check out our article on learning acceptance). When we have high self-acceptance, we also tend to look positively on our past life experiences. When we’re struggling with this, our “inner critic” is typically on fire, leaving us feeling bad about our past, our body, our minds, or ourselves.
Take a moment to have an honest internal conversation about a few of your key strengths and significant weaknesses. Is this easy for you, or difficult? 2. Positive relations with others: “I have people I care about and trust”. When we have strong personal relationship well-being, we generally find our close relationships satisfying, warm and trusting.
Outside of those close relationships, this also brings about a sense of concern for how others are doing. We’re capable of both feeling and regularly expressing strong levels of empathy, affection, and intimacy. We’re also generally comfortable with the give and take nature of human relationships - sometimes we will be giving, and other times we will be taking. Finally, we’re willing to compromise for people important to us. This seems like a long list, but they’re all connected! When we’re struggling with this, we typically have a hard time forging deep relationships, measured by the quantity of deep relationships, and how comfortable we are within each of them.
Who are some people that you both care about and trust? When is the last time you spoke to them?
3. Personal growth:
“I am building myself into an even better person”
We are strong on personal growth well-being when we are actively growing into the person we want to become, and when we are acting and thinking in a way that predisposes us to grow.
This means fostering a belief that we continue to grow and learn, being open to new experiences, and looking for opportunities to get the feeling that we are realizing our potential. High personal growth also means continuing to actually change in ways that reflect us becoming even better, for example increasing our knowledge, skills or self-awareness. When this isn’t working, we may feel bored or uninterested in life, fixed in our ways, and not be learning anything new. Some people refer to this as stagnating, or being in a rut. While it’s normal for us all to visit this state from time to time, it’s important that we don’t stay there, and are in the habit of consistently growing.
What is one small thing that you can commit to for the next week to feel like you’re growing your knowledge, skills, or self-awareness? 4. Purpose in life: “I know where I’m going in life”
When we have strong purpose well-being, we typically have a good sense of our direction in life, and find meaning in both our past and present experiences towards that direction. A strong sense of purpose will also help fuel other elements of your well-being, including many elements of your social well-being from the previous article. We know our personal values and beliefs, which help define and fuel our sense of purpose. Similarly, we know our skills and abilities, which helps us understand at a practical, day to day level, how we fulfill our purpose. Perhaps most importantly though, we have taken the time to introspect and reflect, and actually articulate our purpose. In other words, we actually know what our goals and direction are, so that we can actively work towards achieving them and getting there!
When we’re struggling with purpose, we typically don’t have many defined goals or ambitions, and don’t value our past experiences.
Take a minute to list in your head a few short term goals (within the next year) and at least one long-term goal (within the next 5-10 years). 5. Environmental mastery: “I can control my world around me when I need to”
When we have a strong sense of environmental mastery, we generally believe we have the ability to shape our lives in a way that is good for us. We usually feel “in charge” of our experiences as we go through our day, and we’re generally happy with our day-to-day lifestyle. When something in our lifestyle doesn’t work for us, we work on changing it.When something is working really well, we actively continue to engage in it, and protect it from disruption.This could be physical phenomenon like when you wake up and go to bed, or emotional/ intellectual phenomenon, like who you interact with each day or how you spend your time.
When we’re struggling with environmental mastery, we often feel like our responsibilities are too much for us to handle, and we may start to see daily habits, chores, or feeling of well-being slip.
What is one thing that you have in your day-to-day life that helps you be your best self (it could be an activity, a habit, a social interaction, a lifestyle choice or anything else in your environment)?
6. Autonomy: “I have the final say about what’s important”. When we are autonomous, we know our values and beliefs, and are not swayed by social pressures or fears. We’re comfortable voicing our opinions, even when they are unpopular or contrary to what most people around us believe. We also measure our self worth based on our values, rather than the values of those around us (if these overlap, that’s okay though!).
When we’re struggling with this, we may tend to rely on the belief systems of our peers to make important decisions, or feel bad or shy about voicing our opinion when there may not be anyone around us who will agree with it.
What are your most important values that you think you should uphold?
To learn more about psychological wellbeing, as well as tools to keep it high and help you get through life when it's low, check out the Resili App for free.