6 Lessons from Wellbeing

Tom Rath and Jim Harker organize and share the results from Gallup’s many studies of wellbeing from around the world in Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. They structure wellbeing into the five essential elements; physical, financial, community, career, and social wellbeing. Although this framing doesn’t reflect how I think about wellbeing, I did find several of the nuggets from the research eye opening. Here are a few key lessons for me.

1. 20 minutes of exercise boosts mood for 12 hours.

I have become aware over the past several years that exercise contributes more to my mental clarity, emotional resilience, and mood than it does for my physical body. For the past three months, I’ve been getting up early (for me) and getting a 20 minute workout in before meditating and doing some reflection. I certainly feel the boost in mood from that exercise immediately and over the long-term. I’ve had several coaching clients and others share with me their own early morning version of the 5am Club from Robin Sharma summarized in the video below.

2. People who focus on their strengths are 6x more engaged at work and 3x as likely to report an excellent quality of life.

This is no surprise coming from Gallup, the company that brought you Strengths. The fact that focusing on strengths improves both work and life overall so significantly is striking. Find out what your strengths are and use them more often.

3. We recover more quickly from the death of a spouse than we do from a prolonged period of unemployment.

This was shocking to me. Not only is prolonged unemployment a financial hit, it is an identity hit. It reinforces how much of our identity and sense of self is tied to our profession, career, and job.

4. The social impact of happiness can be seen 3 layers deep in your friend’s, friends’, friends’ happiness.

I first learned this from Shawn Achor in the Happiness Advantage. When we express happiness it has an impact on all the people we interact with and that will have an impact on all of the people they interact with and that will have an impact on all of the people they interact with. How you show-up matters, not just to you and the people in your life but it ripples out far beyond.

5. If happiness is your goal, spend money on experiences and others.

A great reminder that buying things once your needs are met isn’t a great return on investment. Experiences like concerts, trips, and shared meals bring more happiness than things. Spending money on others through gifts, donations, and shared experiences with them also increases happiness more than material goods.

6. Financial security brings people more happiness than a high income or high wealth.

Another great reminder that once you get beyond meeting your needs that additional income and wealth doesn’t bring happiness. Financial stability and security does relieve stress and bring happiness. Reducing what you spend money on and wanting less can bring this type of security without requiring an increase in income or wealth. Spending less is often more achievable than earning more.

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