Training (4/4) ➯ Personal & Global Wellness
This section presents the academic research which shows that the opposite of the mainstream narrative has an incredibly beneficial effect on Personal and Global Wellness. We explore the meaning of wellness, look at the importance of purpose, and summarise how to delve into a new narrative of Personal and Global Wellness.
The Oxford Dictionary defines wellness as: “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal“.
The definition of health by the World Health Organization (WHO) has not changed since 1948. Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Health, therefore, includes well-being.
In 2012, WHO defined well-being as comprising “an individual’s experience of their life as well as a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values”; a definition that the UK Department of Health reiterates.
As the Building Centre explains, well-being is “how satisfied we are with life and how comfortable we are in our present situation” or, more specifically, how satisfied we rate our life, and how comfortable we rate our present situation.
Health encompasses feeling happy about who we are and the world around us (well-being) plus the state of our bodies being physically and mentally in good shape.
The term wellness is also not new. Margaret (Peggy) Swarbrick, Director of Practice Innovation & Wellness at Rutgers School of Health Professions at The State University of New Jersey explains in a 2010 article that Dr. Halbert Dunn first started lecturing and writing about “high level wellness” in 1961, which he stressed “is a direction in the progress toward an ever-higher potential of functioning” through the importance of the mind/body/spirit connection, and the value of purpose.
“Until recently, purpose was understood, if at all, as a means of adapting to threatening conditions” according to a 2003 Stanford University review of the academic research on The Development of Purpose During Adolescence.
In fact, “Purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self”.
Wellness requires an actively pursued goal. The purpose to achieve “an ever-higher potential of functioning” for our own health and well-being, and the long-term, far horizon, desire to make a positive difference in the broader world “beyond the self”.
Instead of reacting to the detrimental “social norms and values” or “threatening conditions” presented to us in the mainstream narrative, we can practise The Art of Critical Thinking, work through the process of cognitive dissonance, and participate in a completely different solutions-focused narrative.
Whether our purpose is to make decisions that increase our own health and well-being, or the health of the planet on a global scale, the multidimensional and holistic nature of wellness means that positively influencing one will always positively influence the other.
The National Wellness Institute agrees. It defines wellness as “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential” that “is multidimensional and holistic” and encompasses “lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment”.
Purpose is what moves the study of Personal and Global Wellness (Personal & Global Wellness Training) into experiencing Personal and Global Wellness.
Gallup has conducted surveys in more than 160 countries using their Global Well-Being Index, “a global barometer of individuals’ perceptions of their own well-being – those aspects that define how we think about and experience our daily lives”. The index includes five elements of well-being: physical, social, community, financial and purpose.
The Gallup World Poll provides “a scientific window into the thoughts and behaviors of 99% of the world’s population through nationally representative samples”. In 2013, the Gallup-Healthways report on the State of Global Well-Being found “Globally, only 17% of the population are thriving in three or more elements” of well-being, and “Survey respondents are least likely to be thriving in purpose well-being, at 18%”.
A 2018 study by Claremont Graduate University and the University of Ioannina found that by tuning out of negative news, youth with purpose “remained hopeful about the future”.
A 2005 study that analysed medical data over a 2-year period from 1041 patient records from a multi-specialty medical practice concluded that higher levels of hope and curiosity decreased likelihood of developing a disease, and a 2001 study also found positive emotion can increase longevity in later life.
A 2017 study compared responses of 242 participants, ranging from 19 to 63 years old, to a shock media news article and solutions-focused news article on sex trafficking. Results showed that solution-focused news stories leave readers feeling more positive.
In another 2017 study, college students read one of three versions of an article concerning on-campus graffiti or rising tuition costs. The study found students who read a story with an effective solution felt more positive and had more favorable attitudes towards the news article and solutions to the problem.
The Center for Media Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin published a 2014 study in which a sample of 755 US adults was presented with a news article reporting on traumatic experiences in American schools, homelessness or a lack of clothing among poor people. Results showed that as well as feeling more optimistic, participants who read a solutions-focused article felt more informed, had a greater desire to share what they had read, to read more about the issue, and to seek out more articles by news organizations covering stories in a solutions-focused manner.
In a 2016 study, a sample of 834 US adults saw one of two online news articles, both reporting on the struggles of the working poor. The experiment showed that adults who read the solutions-focused article spent more time reading the article, left the website more frequently to learn more, and also demonstrated greater optimism and self-efficacy (belief in one’s own ability).
Another 2016 study that surveyed 1318 newspaper journalists in the USA showed that younger journalists and female journalists are particularly interested in contextual reporting: constructive journalism, solutions journalism, and restorative narrative, or “stories that go beyond the immediacy of the news and contribute to societal well-being”.
Since 1997, The Good News Network has provided “an antidote to the barrage of negativity experienced in the mainstream media”, continuing “that good news itself is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is”.
At the fore of the solutions-focused academic movement, the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at UC Berkley study “the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being to teach skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society”, and publish the Greater Good magazine which turns scientific research into “science-based insights for a meaningful life”.
Dr. Karen McIntyre, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University explains in a 2018 Journalism Practice article that constructive journalism (or solutions journalism) “involves applying positive psychology techniques to the news process in an effort to strengthen the field and facilitate productive news stories”.
Some of the many other examples of constructive journalism include Positive News, yes! Magazine, Permaculture Magazine, Colibris Magazine, Ouishare Magazine, Transition Network, Pachamama Alliance, Low Impact, Drawdown, Solution Library, SolutionsU, Global Regeneration, de Correspondent, and the movement for positive news, supported by university academics and journalists, is spreading worldwide and influencing the mainstream.
Barbara Fredrickson, award-winning social psychologist and Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at The University of Carolina at Chapel Hill published an article in 2011 that posits that positive emotions may even “undo the aftereffects of negative emotions” as they seem to have the often incidental effect of broadening an individual’s thought–action repertoire, which in turn has the effect of building that individual’s physical, intellectual, and social resources, including broadening one’s scope of attention, cognition and action.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing explains that “Wellbeing begins with the simple question – what can I do to feel content and balanced?”
In 2008, the New Economics Foundation was commissioned by the UK Government to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal well-being and created the “5 Ways to Wellbeing” which are: keep learning, be active, take notice, give and connect.
That same year, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) also developed a framework called the “Wheel of Wellbeing” which consists of “six universal themes”: keep learning (mind), be active (body), take notice (place), give (spirit), connect (people) and care (planet) – an evaluation of which was carried out in 2017 by The McPin Foundation.
The Center for Wellness and Health Promotion at Harvard University offers workshops on such topics as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, sleep, stress and sexual health. Wellness, therefore, focuses on the tools.
The University of California, UC Davis, expand on this as follows:
“There are eight dimensions of wellness: occupational, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, physical, social, and intellectual. Each dimension of wellness is interrelated with another. Each dimension is equally vital in the pursuit of optimal health. One can reach an optimal level of wellness by understanding how to maintain and optimize each of the dimensions of wellness”.
Therefore, wellness can be seen as not only focusing on the tools, but also understanding how to use the tools to maintain and optimise health and well-being in all areas of life.
Swarbrick originally proposed the 8 Wellness Dimensions model in her 2006 article A Wellness Approach, stating that the physical, spiritual, emotional, social, occupational-leisure, intellectual, financial and environmental dimensions offer “a holistic framework in which to view the person as a whole being”.
The 2013 global Gallup-Healthways survey found that those with high purpose well-being tend to be emotionally invested and focus on creating value through their efforts. Therefore, purpose is the how.
When people like what they do each day, and when they are motivated to achieve their goals, purpose is high.
The 2013 Gallup-Healthways report continues that individuals who are thriving in purpose are at least 50% more likely to volunteer their time and help strangers. This creates a positive cycle of giving, which in turn affects Global Wellness.
A 2010 collaborative study by academics at the universities of Cambridge, Plymouth and California found that being in the presence of someone performing a good deed increases feelings of elevation, which in turn increases the motivation of the observer to volunteer and to help others.
In fact, making Personal and Global Wellness your purpose has endless powerful benefits.
In collaboration with Stanford University, Project Wayfinder presents research which shows some of the many benefits of having purpose in life, including higher levels of psychological well-being, hope, resilience, life satisfaction, flourishing, and significantly lower incidences of heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.
The Fostering Purpose Project, developed by researchers at Claremont Graduate University, presents more of the many benefits of purpose in life, including academic success, self-esteem, self-efficacy, increased physical health, reduced pain, regression in some types of cancer, and positive emotions.
In conjunction with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, The Adolescent Moral Development Lab, directed by Associate Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, Kendall Cotton Bronk, are currently investigating the relationship between purpose and gratitude – with an aim to develop tools for schools.
As Purpose Guide Brandon Peele explains, extensive studies show “six powerful outcomes” of having purpose; these include success and leadership, health and happiness, sex and love, a sharp mind, and in the end, a more efficient, healthy and kind society, and genuinely prosperous economy.
The first section demonstrated how The Art of Critical Thinking enables us to form objective opinions and make informed decisions. The second section demonstrated how the mainstream narrative is just a story. The third section demonstrated how exploring controversial topics and facing cognitive dissonance raises consciousness and can lead to a new solutions-focused narrative that increases Personal and Global Wellness.
Personal and Global Wellness results from studying the opposite of the mainstream narrative. We are all capable of the most incredible change. We can evolve whilst still staying true to who we are. We can honour who we have been and choose who we want to be. Now is your chance. How about it?
The decision now is to make Personal and Global Wellness an actively pursued goal, a way of life – your purpose.
The research in this section clearly shows when we focus on the opposite of the mainstream narrative, have the purpose to study, achieve, maintain and optimise health and well-being in order to reach our full potential, and use the tools identified by the latest scientific research to increase wellness, we can experience powerful, multidimensional and holistic Personal and Global Wellness.
WUWE defines Personal & Global Wellness Training as: “the study of how to achieve, maintain and optimise health and well-being in order to reach our full potential on a personal and global scale”.
At this point your Personal and Global Wellness Training becomes self-directed. WUWE is here to help you with the tools, but what you choose to study in order to experience Personal and Global Wellness is a personal choice.
This is the exciting part. The tools to solve all of our personal and global problems now exist, so follow your intuition and choose whatever topic interests you; if you do not know what to choose, remember this WUWE motto:
Choose anything, as long as it is not what you know you do not want, and always make sure your focus is constructive and solutions-focused.
Most importantly, get out of your comfort zone (cognitive dissonance), go out into the solutions-focused world, and participate in the global academic, scientific and social/spiritual movement taking place right now.