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What Exactly Is Well-Being?

New research lists the fourteen components of well-being

The importance of well-being has been widely acknowledged over the past twenty years by psychologists. But the concept itself is surprisingly complex.

In a recent study which aimed to bring some order to the confusion, Dr Ylenio Longo at the University of Nottingham, in England, examined the similarities and differences in the six most widely used theoretical perspectives on well-being.

Looking for similarities and differences across the six theoretical perspectives in how they defined well-being, he identified fourteen distinct and recurring constructs that are used to describe well-being: happiness, vitality, calmness, optimism, involvement, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-worth, competence, development, purpose, significance, congruence, and connection.

The definitions for each are shown below.

1. Happiness = Feeling happy and cheerful

2. Vitality = Feeling energetic/full of energy

3. Calmness = Feeling calm/relaxed

4. Optimism = Being optimistic and hopeful

5. Involvement = Feeling completely involved and engaged in what you do

6. Awareness = Being in touch with how you feel

7. Acceptance = Accepting yourself the way you are

8. Self-worth = Liking yourself

9. Competence = Feeling highly effective at what you do

10. Development = Feeling you are improving, developing, advancing

11. Purpose = Having a purpose and a mission in life

12. Significance = Feeling that what you do is worthwhile

13. Congruence = Feeling that what you do is consistent with how you see yourself

14. Connection = Feeling close and connected to the people around you

Looking down this list, which ones would you agree are true for you?

Someone with a very high level of well-being would agree with all fourteen components, but for most of us, there will be gaps – components of well-being that are missing in our lives right now. It helps us to identify what’s missing in our lives and where we might need to put in some extra effort.

If you are interested, you can find out more about the science behind this work and the new questionnaire we developed – the Scales of General Well-Being (SGWB) – by clicking the link below.…


Longo, Y., Coyne, I., & Joseph, S. (2017). The Scales of general well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 109, 148-159.

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