Wellbeing is personal, social and – most of all – behavioral

“Everybody’s looking for this magic pill that’s going to change (feelings of low wellbeing), and what we really need is a shift in our expectations and a shift in our behaviors.” – Dr. Cynthia Ackrill, certified stress mastery educator

When it comes to wellbeing, we tend to look too far outside our circle of control for causes, drifting into passive engagement with ourselves and others. We fixate on how external factors are harming us, but reframing these concerns as a search for factors we can (partially) influence reveals ways we can make things (at least a bit) better for ourselves and others.

There will always be things going on in our organizations and societies that flood us with anxiety and wear us down; however, in the midst of a sea of uncontrollable factors we can also always choose to build islands of agency, connection and contribution to things we care about.

Below are some passages from a CNN article on wellbeing, pointing to how we can use APGCCM to increase our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us.

Agency – ‘You can do certain things to take charge of thriving in your own life, Ackrill said.’

Purpose – ‘It’s important to learn what tools can help you get to a place where you can make good decisions based on your values and long-term goals, Ackrill said.’

Growth – ‘Another factor for those more likely to thrive is whether they have a chance to learn new and interesting things, Witters added.’

Connection – ‘Having someone in your life who cares about your health and wellness is also important.’

Contribution – ‘There isn’t a quick fix to the big problems plaguing systems and cultures, she said, adding it may take awhile to implement solutions to problems that developed over a long period.’

Though there may be no quick fix, we can choose how and where and to what we want to “contribute.” One way to maximize “meaning” is to choose to “contribute” to something we care about, even when we don’t feel we have the bandwidth (余裕 in Japanese) to do so.

Meaning – ‘Do you just like your life?

Some frame well-being as a individual challenge in which we liberate ourselves from the limitations and burdens others place on us. Reframing our pursuit of well-being as BOTH private AND social opens our eyes to how we can create “interdependable” relationships and resilient experiences of well-being.

We enhance our well-being by consciously cycling through an infinity loop of private (Kojin / 個人) and social (Kanjin / 間人) focus.

In the private (Kojin) loop:

Whatever our circumstances, we can always find opportunities to exert our “agency” in the interest of a “purpose” that inspires us to take action yielding the experience of “growth.”

In the social (Kanjin) loop:

Finding ways to align and integrate our actions in “connection with others” to “contribute” to something greater than ourselves yields more “meaning” in work and life.

Interdependence is reality; “interdependability” is the choice to make the most of that reality.


© Dana Cogan, 2024, all rights reserved.

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