When we are in a relationship where we feel listened to and understood, we count ourselves lucky because we know how rare that experience is. We reserve our most intimate selves for the people who, along with us, co-create an open space where we feel free to express ourselves and listen without judgment. These relationships, which thrive on open communication, can mean the difference between existential loneliness and a deep sense of belonging. We all long to feel heard, understood, and loved, and clear communication makes this possible. Sometimes problems arise in the process of expressing how we feel, and it is always worth it to do the work. Even in our less intimate relationships, expressing ourselves honestly is essential to our sense of well-being. Whether at home with family or in the outside world, successful communication requires some forethought; otherwise we risk blundering through our relationships like the proverbial bull in a china shop. However, too much forethought can stifle us or cause us to pad our words so extremely that we end up saying nothing at all or confusing the matter further. The good news is that there are many methods that can come to our rescue, from meditation to visualization to journaling. If the person we need to communicate with is open to sitting in meditation together for a set period of time before speaking, this can be invaluable. When we are calm and centered, we can count on ourselves to speak and respond truthfully. We can also meditate on our own time and then practice what we need to say. A visualization in which we sit with the person and lovingly exchange a few words can also be a great precedent to an actual conversation. If writing comes easily, we can write out what we need to say; it may take several drafts, but we will eventually find the words. The key is to find ways to center ourselves so that we communicate meaningfully, lovingly, and wisely. In this way, we honor our companions and create relationships in which there is a genuine sense of understanding and respect. Based on text by Madisyn Taylor
Well-being is having a moment. What was once considered a soft-news lifestyle topic has, thanks to our collective experience of the pandemic, moved to the center of the conversation about work and life. And as a Chief Well-Being Officer, I’m certainly glad to see this shift (even if I obviously would have preferred a different catalyst).
Still, when I’m asked questions about well-being, as I often am, I’ve noticed a troubling trend. Very often, well-being becomes just another stress-inducing item on our to-do list. So as we continue to prioritize our well-being, we also need to shift our mindset away from viewing well-being as work. Because well-being isn’t a benchmark we need to hit. It’s not another guilt-inducing metric to measure ourselves by. The whole point of bringing more well-being into our lives is to lower our stress, not add to it.
With that in mind, here are six ways to prevent well-being from becoming just another item on our to-do lists.
Stop glorifying busyness
We often have this idea that busyness and productivity are the same thing. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor, believing that we should exist in a state of perpetual motion. For many of us, this extends to well-being, which becomes something we must do — that is, just another form of being busy. But well-being isn’t a moment, it’s a mindset — and one that’s an antidote to the mindset of busyness. Well-being is a way of living and working that can only happen when we leave busyness behind.
Define well-being for yourself
If well-being begins to feel like a checklist of things you’re supposed to do, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re subscribing to an idea of well-being that’s been defined by someone else. But well-being isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s different for every person, so it’s essential that we define it for ourselves.
That starts with thinking of what’s important to us and defining our non-negotiables. Some people like to meditate, some don’t. For some, well-being might involve an activity. For others, it can just as easily be about doing nothing. When we focus on what truly makes us thrive, it will be a lot easier to integrate our specific version of well-being into the fabric of our daily lives.
Prioritizing well-being isn’t about overhauling our lives, and it doesn’t mean we have to make huge changes. It’s not all-or-nothing. Thrive Global is all about Microsteps — starting with the smallest steps possible to build healthy habits. Maybe you don’t have time to work out for an hour a day, but can you get a few more minutes of movement in? You don’t have to cut out gluten or meat or foods you like, but can you add a piece of fruit as a snack? When we make these steps small enough, they become easier to make into habits.
Be intentional about setting boundaries
Having a set of well-being non-negotiables doesn’t do much good if we don’t make time for them. To make sure I make time for mine, I add them to my public calendar, which all of my co-workers and team members can see, and then I stick to them in the same way I do everything else on my calendar. This sends the message — both to myself and others — that the ways I’m nurturing my well-being are as important as any other meetings or appointments on my calendar.
Accept that well-being will change
If we’ve learned anything over the past year-and-a-half, it’s that life is about constant change. Well-being isn’t a destination. As we move forward on our life’s journey, our conception of well-being is likely to change. When we accept that, we’ll be able to continue finding new ways to bring well-being, joy, and renewal into our lives that don’t feel forced.
Give yourself some grace
We’re all human, which means we’re perfectly imperfect. The last thing our relationship with well-being should be giving us is guilt or a sense of failure. What’s more, self-acceptance — in this case, accepting the fact that we’re not always going to meet our own definition of well-being or find the time for it — is itself a great well-being practice. So let yourself off the hook, give yourself some grace, and when you do, you’ll be adding a powerful tool of well-being to your life.
Based on text by Jen Fisher