In our search to find well-being (the balance of compassion and thought) we discovered the magic of meditation, the wonderful benefits of prayer, and the healthy infusion of mind, body, and spirit through the consumption of tea. Throughout these discoveries, we have come across various writings, videos, and artistic presentations which further this pursuit. To be of further service to you, we have compiled an assortment of these works which you may find beneficial. Please enjoy as we have.
Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and for many sectors of society, because it tells us that people perceive that their lives are going well. Good living conditions (e.g., housing, employment) are fundamental to well-being. Tracking these conditions is important for public policy. However, many indicators that measure living conditions fail to measure what people think and feel about their lives, such as the quality of their relationships, their positive emotions and resilience, the realization of their potential, or their overall satisfaction with life—i.e., their “well-being.”1, 2 Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy.3, 4
- Why is well-being useful for public health?
- How does well-being relate to health promotion?
- How is well-being defined?
- How is well-being measured?
- What are some findings from these studies?
- What are some correlates and determinants of individual-level well-being?
- What are some correlates of well-being at the national level?
- What is the difference between health-related quality of life, well-being, flourishing, positive mental health, optimal health, happiness, subjective well-being, psychological well-being, life satisfaction, hedonic well-being, and other terms that exist in the literature?
- What is CDC doing to examine and promote well-being?
- Well-being integrates mental health (mind) and physical health (body) resulting in more holistic approaches to disease prevention and health promotion.6
- Well-being is a valid population outcome measure beyond morbidity, mortality, and economic status that tells us how people perceive their life is going from their own perspective.1, 2, 4, 5
- Well-being is an outcome that is meaningful to the public.
- Advances in psychology, neuroscience, and measurement theory suggest that well-being can be measured with some degree of accuracy.2, 7
- Results from cross-sectional, longitudinal and experimental studies find that well-being is associated with1, 8:
- Self-perceived health.
- Healthy behaviors.
- Mental and physical illness.
- Social connectedness.
- Factors in the physical and social environment.
- Well-being can provide a common metric that can help policy makers shape and compare the effects of different policies (e.g., loss of greenspace might impact well-being more so than commercial development of an area).4, 5
- Measuring, tracking and promoting well-being can be useful for multiple stakeholders involved in disease prevention and health promotion.
Well-being is associated with numerous health-, job-, family-, and economically-related benefits.8 For example, higher levels of well-being are associated with decreased risk of disease, illness, and injury; better immune functioning; speedier recovery; and increased longevity.9-13 Individuals with high levels of well-being are more productive at work and are more likely to contribute to their communities.4, 14
Previous research lends support to the view that the negative affect component of well-being is strongly associated with neuroticism and that positive affect component has a similar association with extraversion.15, 16 This research also supports the view that positive emotions—central components of well-being—are not merely the opposite of negative emotions, but are independent dimensions of mental health that can, and should be fostered.17, 25 Although a substantial proportion of the variance in well-being can be attributed to heritable factors,26, 27 environmental factors play an equally if not more important role.4, 5, 28
Health is more than the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows people to realize their aspirations, satisfy their needs and to cope with the environment in order to live a long, productive, and fruitful life.25, 29-31 In this sense, health enables social, economic and personal development fundamental to well-being.25, 30, 31 Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.25, 30, 32 Environmental and social resources for health can include: peace, economic security, a stable ecosystem, and safe housing.30 Individual resources for health can include: physical activity, healthful diet, social ties, resiliency, positive emotions, and autonomy. Health promotion activities aimed at strengthening such individual, environmental and social resources may ultimately improve well-being.24, 25
There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning.4, 33-35 In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.36, 37 For public health purposes, physical well-being (e.g., feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall well-being. Researchers from different disciplines have examined different aspects of well-being that include the following4, 34, 38, 39, 41-46:
- Physical well-being.
- Economic well-being.
- Social well-being.
- Development and activity.
- Emotional well-being.
- Psychological well-being.
- Life satisfaction.
- Domain specific satisfaction.
- Engaging activities and work.
Because well-being is subjective, it is typically measured with self-reports.40 The use of self-reported measures is fundamentally different from using objective measures (e.g., household income, unemployment levels, neighborhood crime) often used to assess well-being. The use of both objective and subjective measures, when available, are desirable for public policy purposes.5
There are many well-being instruments available that measure self-reported well-being in different ways, depending on whether one measures well-being as a clinical outcome, a population health outcome, for cost-effectiveness studies, or for other purposes. For example, well-being measures can be psychometrically-based or utility-based. Psychometrically-based measures are based on the relationship between, and strength among, multiple items that are intended to measure one or more domains of well-being. Utility-based measures are based on an individual or group’s preference for a particular state, and are typically anchored between 0 (death) to 1 (optimum health). Some studies support use of single items (e.g., global life satisfaction) to measure well-being parsimoniously. Peer reports, observational methods, physiological methods, experience sampling methods, ecological momentary assessment, and other methods are used by psychologists to measure different aspects of well-being.42
Over the years, for public health surveillance purposes, CDC has measured well-being with different instruments including some that are psychometrically-based, utility-based, or with single items:
|National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)||
|National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)||
|Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)||
|Porter Novelli Healthstyles Survey||
- Data from the NHANES I (1971–1975), found that employed women had a higher sense of well-being and used fewer professional services to cope with personal and mental health problems than their nonemployed counterparts.53
- Data from the 2001 NHIS and Quality of Well-Being scale, a preference based scale which scores well-being between 0-1, found that males or females between the ages of 20–39 had significantly better well-being (scores ≥ 0.82) compared with males or females 40 years of age or older (scores >0.79).54
- Data from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that 5.6% of US adults (about 12 million) reported that they were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with their lives.48
- Data from the 2005 BRFSS found that about 8.6% of adults reported that they rarely/never received social and emotional support; ranging in value from 4.2% in Minnesota to 12.4% in the US Virgin Islands.47
- Based on 2008 Porter Novelli HealthStyles data.55
- 11% of adults felt cheerful all of the time in the past 30 days.
- 15% of adults felt calm and peaceful all of the time in the past 30 days.
- 13% of adults felt full of life all of the time in the past 30 days.
- 9.8% of adults strongly agree that their life is close to their ideal.
- 19% of adults strongly agree that they are satisfied with their life.
- 21% of adults strongly agree that their life has a clear sense of purpose.
- 30% of adults strongly agree that on most days they feel a sense of accomplishment from what they do.
There is no sole determinant of individual well-being, but in general, well-being is dependent upon good health, positive social relationships, and availability and access to basic resources (e.g., shelter, income).
Numerous studies have examined the associations between determinants of individual and national levels of well-being. Many of these studies have used different measures of well-being (e.g., life satisfaction, positive affect, psychological well-being), and different methodologies resulting in occasional inconsistent findings related to well-being and its predictors.37, 56In general, life satisfaction is dependent more closely on the availability of basic needs being met (food, shelter, income) as well as access to modern conveniences (e.g., electricity). Pleasant emotions are more closely associated with having supportive relationships.5
Some general findings on associations between well-being and its associations with other factors are as follows:
Genes and Personality
At the individual level, genetic factors, personality, and demographic factors are related to well-being. For example, positive emotions are heritable to some degree (heritability estimates range from 0.36 to 0.81), suggesting that there may be a genetically determined set-point for emotions such as happiness and sadness.26,27,57,58,59 However, the expression of genetic effects are often influenced by factors in the environment implying that circumstances and social conditions do matter and are actionable from a public policy perspective. Longitudinal studies have found that well-being is sensitive to life events (e.g., unemployment, marriage).60, 61 Additionally, genetic factors alone cannot explain differences in well-being between nations or trends within nations.
Some personality factors that are strongly associated with well-being include optimism, extroversion, and self-esteem.20, 62Genetic factors and personality factors are closely related and can interact in influencing individual well-being.
While genetic factors and personality factors are important determinants of well-being, they are beyond the realm of public policy goals.
Age and Gender
Depending on which types of measures are used (e.g., life satisfaction vs. positive affect), age and gender also have been shown to be related to well-being. In general, men and women have similar levels of well-being, but this pattern changes with age,63 and has changed over time.64 There is a U-shaped distribution of well-being by age—younger and older adults tend to have more well-being compared to middle-aged adults.65
Income and Work
The relationship between income and well-being is complex.4, 39, 65 Depending on which types of measures are used and which comparisons are made, income correlates only modestly with well-being. In general, associations between income and well-being (usually measured in terms of life satisfaction) are stronger for those at lower economic levels, but studies also have found effects for those at higher income levels.66 Paid employment is critical to the well-being of individuals by conferring direct access to resources, as well as fostering satisfaction, meaning and purpose for some.67 Unemployment negatively affects well-being, both in the short- and long-term.61, 65, 67
Having supportive relationships is one of the strongest predictors of well-being, having a notably positive effect.68, 69
Countries differ substantially in their levels of well-being.4, 70 Societies with higher well-being are those that are more economically developed, have effective governments with low levels of corruption, have high levels of trust, and can meet citizens’ basic needs for food and health.4, 5 Cultural factors (e.g., individualsm vs. collectivism, social norms) also play a role in national estimates of well-being.70
What is the difference between health-related quality of life, well-being, flourishing, positive mental health, optimal health, happiness, subjective well-being, psychological well-being, life satisfaction, hedonic well-being, and other terms that exist in the literature?71
Some researchers suggest that many of the terms are synonymous, whereas others note that there are major differences based on which dimensions are independent and contribute most to well-being.37, 71 This is an evolving science, with contributions from multiple disciplines. Traditionally, health-related quality of life has been linked to patient outcomes, and has generally focused on deficits in functioning (e.g., pain, negative affect). In contrast, well-being focuses on assets in functioning, including positive emotions and psychological resources (e.g., positive affect, autonomy, mastery) as key components. Some researchers have drawn from both perspectives to measure physical and mental well-being for clinical and economic studies. Subjective well-being typically refers to self-reports contrasted with objective indicators of well-being. The term, “positive mental health” calls attention to the psychological components that comprise well-being from the perspective of individuals interested primarily in the mental health domain. From this perspective, positive mental health is a resource, broadly inclusive of psychological assets and skills essential for well-being.24, 25 But, the latter generally excludes the physical component of well-being. “Hedonic” well-being focuses on the “feeling” component of well-being (e.g., happiness) in contrast to “eudaimonic” well-being which focuses on the “thinking” component of well-being (e.g., fulfillment).35 People with high levels of positive emotions, and those who are functioning well psychologically and socially are described by some as having complete mental health, or as “flourishing.” 46
In summary, positive mental health, well-being and flourishing refer to the presence of high levels of positive functioning—primarily in the mental health domain (inclusive of social health). However, in its broadest sense, well-being encompasses physical, mental, and social domains.
The reasons why well-being and related constructs should be measured and evaluating how these domains can be changed should help inform which domains (e.g., life satisfaction, positive affect, autonomy, meaning, vitality, pain) should be measured, and which instruments and methods to use.71
CDC’s Health-Related Quality of Life Program has led an effort since 2007 to examine how well-being can be integrated into health promotion and how it can be measured in public health surveillance systems.55 A number of studies have examined the feasibility of existing scales for surveillance, including application of item-response theory to identify brief, psychometrically sound short-form(s) that can be used in public health surveillance systems.72,73 CDC and three states (OR, WA, NH) collected data using the Satisfaction with Life Scale and other well-being measures on the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.74 CDC also led the development of overarching goals related to quality of life and well-being for the Healthy People 2020External initiative.
The Importance Of Family Love For Emotional Well-Being
Updated September 04, 2018
The importance of family love for emotional well-being cannot be underestimated. The quality of family love experienced by a person affects them all the way from infancy through adolescence into adulthood. Love, as it occurs in the context of family, is unlike any other. Your family members are the people who you surround yourself with the most, who gives your life meaning, and who you would do anything for. They’re the people that you can’t live without. Who you turn to when something good or bad happens.
Of course, this is painting a perfect-sounding picture when no family is perfect. You may have a strained or negative relationship with your blood family, or not have any living family that you know of, but that does not mean you can never experience positive family love. You may have past experiences where you received a lot of healthy family love but don’t right now. If not, remember that you can always choose who your family is (at least when you’re old enough to understand and make that choice).
Evidence That Family Love Is Important For Emotional Well-Being
Research and anecdotal evidence shows that family love has can have a big impact on our emotional wellbeing. That impact can be either positive or negative, and effects of different things like our emotions and behaviors.
A Harvard longitudinal study conducted by Waldinger, R.J. & Schulz, M.S. (2016) on a sample of 81 men found that, “warmer relationships with parents in childhood predict greater security of attachment to intimate partners in late life, and that this link is mediated in part by the degree to which individuals in midlife rely on emotion-regulatory styles that facilitate or inhibit close relationship connections.” These findings highlight how childhood environment can impact individuals even as adults.
Just like a nurturing, loving and supportive family environment contribute to healthy emotions and behaviors, the opposite is also true. For example, many children who grow up in abusive households and who witness domestic violence firsthand end up modeling the same behavior in their family relationships when they are older. Both examples show how the quality of family love that we are exposed to from a young age can have far-reaching consequences.
Other evidence, like the study by Bond, L., Patton, G., Glover, S. et al. (2004), show how other influences like a school-based intervention, can have a positive impact on emotional wellbeing. This just goes to show that your family may help or harm your emotional wellbeing, but they aren’t the whole story. Other factors can also impact and influence your emotional wellbeing, meaning things can change.
Navigating Troubles With Family Love To Improve Emotional Well-Being
People who grow up exposed to appropriate amounts of positive family love are lucky. These individuals may suffer from fewer problems with emotional wellbeing as they age. If you grew up in a situation where family love was missing or skewed, or you are currently experiencing issues with a family that is affecting your emotional well-being, don’t worry. Either way, there are a few things that you can do to improve this situation:
Sometimes it’s unfortunate that people have no control over what family they are born into. If you have been dealt a bad hand, there is not much you can do to change it. For many years, you may be stuck suffering the consequences if your family is not very loving, or (even worse) abusive. These types of situations can leave long-lasting scars, including things like trust issues, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and difficulty getting close to people when you are older.
Counseling can help you understand and start to heal though issues that you may be dealing with because of family problems or trauma. These things can be in the past or ongoing. One positive thing is that these days it’s easier than ever to find counseling services that are built to suit your needs. Traditional, in-person counseling is still an option if you prefer to see a professional face-to-face, but if you are waitlisted or seeking an alternative counseling method, there are some great services out there.
One convenient alternative that has been around for a few years is online counseling. Online counseling services are the perfect solution if you live in a rural area or don’t have time to keep regular appointments in person. Services like Regain offer relationship counseling to couples and individuals. Regain, and other services like it are affordable and convenient. You can connect with a trained professional from the comfort of your own home and even while you’re traveling or on-the-go.
- Choose Your Family
Another way that you can cope with lack of family love or start to heal from an unhealthy family dynamic is by choosing your own family instead. This can be hard to do when you are younger and still live with your parents, but as adults, we have the power to choose to end unhealthy family relationships. We can also choose new, honorary family members that make us feel loved and respected. Have you ever had a close friend that was like the brother or sister you always wished you had?
To bring in the type of family love you desire in life, start by reaching out to the people you trust and feel close to for support. These people might be friends, co-workers, or people who you meet randomly and have a close connection with. These relationships may start out as friendships, but over time friends can become close like family. For example, an older co-worker might become a bit of a parental figure, because they have qualities you wish your parents had when you were young.
- Put Yourself First
Ideally, one or both the suggestions above can be useful if you are struggling with your emotional wellbeing because of lack of family love. If counseling or choosing your own family doesn’t seem like viable options due to lack of finances or people who you consider close like family, don’t give up. Remember that self-love and self-expression are also important factors in your emotional wellbeing. Sometimes taking your emotional well-being into your own hands can be just as empowering.
Even though it can be hard at times, it’s important that you learn to recognize your self-worth. If you are living with a family that doesn’t treat you with love and respect, you don’t need to take it. You should feel comfortable standing up for yourself and not take their actions or words to heart. If you are in an abusive relationship, you can contact the national domestic violence hotline at 1−800−799−7233. The way that your family treats you, especially when negative, does not reflect your worth.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries around unhealthy family relationships, if you have that option. Refuse to be around people who make you feel bad about yourself. Take your emotional well-being into your own hands by taking good care of yourself physically, doing the things that make you happy, and developing a tough exterior that cannot be penetrated by people who don’t treat you the way that you deserve to be treated. By believing that you deserve better you will start to bring better into your life.
Family love is extremely important when it comes to a person’s emotional well-being. Growing up in a loving and supportive family can help you develop into an emotionally-healthy teen and adult, whereas a lack of family love or growing up in an unhealthy family environment can negatively impact your emotional well-being in the long term. Just know that whatever happens in your family life, you can always change your situation for the better.
If you grew up with a lack of family love or are having family problems, there are several things that you can do to improve and protect your emotional wellbeing. A few of these things include seeing a counselor either online or in person, choosing your own family, and putting yourself first instead of letting other people get you down. It’s true that our family shapes us, but if you were dealt a bad hand, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take things into your own hands and create the change you deserve.
A few final things to keep in mind as you embark on this journey: For one thing, be patient. Healing emotional scars takes time, and there will be highs and lows along the way. Also, don’t give up. Even when you have setbacks like you let a family member walk all over you or let negative ways of thinking get to you, remember that you are making progress just by trying. Finally, be self-aware. Take note of what things work for you and what doesn’t, since all of us are different.
We all cope differently when we are struggling with our emotional wellbeing, and that’s okay. If you try one of these methods, like counseling or setting boundaries, and it doesn’t work for you, move on to the next thing until something does work. If you are a parent, remember that showing healthy family love to your children can make a big difference in their current and future emotional well-being. If you lacked family love growing up, make a promise not to continue the cycle with your kids.