The Matrix of Well-Being

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Is the best, most fulfilling life solely focused on finding ways to be happier? Or is there more to the equation? Many scientists agree that happiness or positive emotion is only one important aspect of the “good life.” According to Martin Seligman, considered the father of Positive Psychology, there are four main components to the ultimate state of well-being. One is positive emotions like happiness. Another is what he calls engagement, also known as being in the zone or in the groove. The third component is meaning – belonging to and serving something bigger than yourself. The final piece is accomplishment or achievement. Other scientists such as Robert Biswas-Diener list additional pieces to the matrix such as playfulness and curiosity, a sense of belonging, autonomy or control over your life and psychological flexibility in dealing with negative and positive emotions.

With so many areas to consider, which ones should you focus on to achieve your best life? Like so many things in life, the right combination is a balance that depends on your personality and where you are currently in your life. The challenge is that in our busy lives, we hardly ever take the time to reflect and explore whether we feel satisfied with the current balance. Or, if we sense an imbalance, we don’t take the time to stop and consider what needs changing since, unfortunately, our society stresses doing more faster. So take the time during the upcoming holiday season to list each of these parts of the matrix and rate how satisfied you are with them in your own life. Maybe you will identify some different New Year’s Resolutions for yourself for 2014 . . .

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