Can you pick the most important one for you?
- Financial Security
- Lack of illness
- Lack of stress
- Absence of abusive relationships
- Absence of traumatic events
Which of these do you think are of most significance to your well-being?
Which one is the deal breaker to your psychological health?
Such question, though straight forward, has been raised by many psychologists and psychiatrists for a long time, and its answer has been the main reason for the rise of many psychological schools and ideologies.
But what does psychological well-being mean in the first place?
As per the World Health Organization, psychological well-being is a state in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Psychological well-being includes the realms of emotions, behavior, social interactions and spiritual health.
Yet, the lens through which you look into psychological health plays a critical role in your findings.
Whether it is psychological dysfunction or wellness that you are assessing, the criteria upon which you base your judgment remains subjective.
For some people as well as many psychiatrists, psychological dysfunction is the main focus, however, for others, psychological wellness is the pursuit.
However, diagnosing and treating a dysfunction is one thing, and enabling the process of positive restoration is another.
So, if you belong to the first group then psychological health means lack of illness, stress, abusive relations or traumatic events, but if you belong to the second group then it means health, financial security, good relationships, and happiness.
Yet, regardless of your concern or focus, psychological well-being has become the hot topic of the millennium.
Our Distorted Reality
We are living in an era marked with stress and anxiety.
The materialistic life we are trapped inside has drastically affected the quality of our lives.
With an urge in every corner, overload in every action, and competition echoing every thought, life has become a bitter prison to our souls.
We seldom have the time to pause and reflect, to reconnect with who we are or to stay true to our identities and aspiration.
We are constantly running a race that we mostly didn’t choose, yet, this race leaves us so burnt out to an extent that the definition of well-being seems so far-fetched.
Like hamsters spinning in never-ending wheels, our energies are being consumed at high speed and so is our psychic.
All these changes and more have brought psychological health into common awareness, and have created a buzz around striking a good psychological balance.
Measuring Psychological Health
Because psychological health is still a topic under intensive studies, we must quantify our understanding of the factors leading to our psychological well-being or hence dysfunction, to be able to assess where we are on the well-being spectrum and how to deal with the gap.
As a matter of fact, our psychological health is a factor of many complex interactions between our past and present, our thoughts, perceptions and associations, a 30 m/sec fast processing power.
Still, we need to benchmark our psychological health with certain factors to be able to do the maths.
In her model, Carl Ryff, the American Psychologist, developed a six-factor model that measures the level of our psychic well-being.
Her model measures:
Autonomy: our capability to formulate our thoughts and actions independent from societal pressure.
Environment mastery: our feeling of control over our circumstances.
Positive relations with others: our ability to engage, empathise and get involved in positive relationships with others.
Purpose: our convictions turned into achievable life goals.
Personal growth: our openness to new experiences, and our capacity for continuous improvement and self-development.
Self-acceptance: our appreciation of ourselves and understanding of our values and motives as well as flaws, and acknowledging our inability to become perfect.
Fully Functioning Person Model
There is also the model of Carl Rogers, an American psychologist and one of the founders of the humanistic school of psychology, of “a fully functioning person”.
In his theory, Rogers suggests that people strive to achieve their full potential through self-actualization.
Rogers drew the picture of the fully functioning person as someone who is continually working to become self-actualized, someone who does not limit his worth and capabilities, someone who is capable of expressing his feelings and is open to new experiences.
Rogers believes that fully functioning people are those who can live fully in the present moment and have a sense of inner freedom as well as an ability to embrace challenges.
They also have a key characteristic which enables their life mission of self-actualization, that is flexibility and adaptability.
They are able to change and evolve through experience, they are willing to make real changes both to their plans and to themselves as brought to their awareness.
To them, the end is more important than the mean.
Their high sense of self which is derived from their clear values is their most valuable asset.
Personal Fulfillment Theory
There is also Charlotte Buhler and her theory of personal fulfillment.
Her theory defines four basic human tendencies:
- Striving for personal satisfaction in love, sex, and recognition.
- Fitting in, belong and feel secure.
- Self-expression and accomplishments.
However, Buhler recognizes the reality of the world we are living in and acknowledges the effort, struggle, and frustration that accompanies the journey of this personal fulfillment.
She, too, advocates for self-actualization.
Practical Steps Towards Well-Being
Taking a holistic look at all these models, we can deduce that:
1- A meaningless life is a life unworthy of living, a life with a backdoor to depression
Having a reason to live fights the bad days on your behalf, puts your life into perspective and helps you connect the dots of your life easier.
When we lose our sense of purpose, we find depression at our doors.
Yes, life is not easy, it is challenging and draining and sometimes does not make any sense, yet, the only way to get out is through it.
So, let your purpose carry you through this chaos, even if it is a simple one, just find yourself one.
2- People are the friend and the enemy, so be wise in dealing with them
If you let people be your inner voice, then be ready to welcome low self-esteem, lack of confidence and feeling worthless.
No one in the history of humankind succeeded in taking all people on his side, so don’t repeat history and fight a losing battle.
People’s opinions in your life are only a point of view, not an abiding law.
People are a bless if only you place them where they should be.
They are there for support not dictation.
They are here for the support they can offer not to fulfill your expectations.
If you understand that well, you can successfully establish positive and nourishing relationships, for one needs people to love, belong to and care for.
3- Self-acknowledgment and understanding is a featured recipe of self-peace
In a competitive world, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a must, yet, learning to acknowledge and accept your shortcomings is a key to liberate yourself from the world’s prison of judgment, labeling, and belittling.
Understanding that perfection is a very far-reaching mirage, humans are never meant to achieve, is the first step towards healing.
Second, realizing that your flaws are not mistakes nor disgrace unlocks your insecurities and allows you to embrace them.
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your own consent”
If you accept who you are, no one can criticize you for it.
Then, learning to open up to your vulnerabilities relieves a heavy burden you were hiding, thinking that no one could see it.
In fact you were wasting your energy on something so exposed.
Only those who are in peace with who they were, reached somewhere.
4- Feeling loved is a human right that you need to claim
We never know the bitterness of being left out, until we taste it.
Nobody wants to feel unloved or unwanted, yet, a lot of us unfortunately do.
When we feel unloved, we isolate ourselves from those who can love us, hence feel unloved even more.
Though it was us who started this vicious loop all along with our internal state.
People don’t love those who cannot love themselves.
If you need to feel loved, then create this capacity in you first to receive it from others.
5- Accomplishments is air to our well-being but it can be toxic
If you don’t find a reason for your existence, then most probably you would want to leave.
Feeling useful is innate, however, we need to realize something to feel useful.
Take care though because accomplishments are a double-edged weapon, too many of it could ruin your ego.
We need to feel accomplished without relying on it to be satisfied, or else it would become toxic to our well-being.
For striving on accomplishments to make up for our shortcomings ends up isolating us even more.
It turns us into bitter losers, losers who can’t take loss easily, losers who can’t take life!
To Sum It Up
In a messed-up world, our psychological health is crucial to our well-being.
We should exert the same effort we exert to achieve and succeed, or even more, to watch over our psychic.
However, to find a good start you need to define your quest; avoiding dysfunction or achieving wellness.
Once you have a starting point, measure where you are on the spectrum of your pursuit then start taking practical steps towards your end.
Yet, regardless of where you want to go, don’t put the burden of living a good life on someone else’s shoulder.
It all starts from within, driven by a decision and fueled by a conscious choice.
So, choose quality!