Is Facebook Bad for You?

Find out if Facebook is helping or hurting your happiness and well-being.

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Did you know that the average Facebook user uses a combination of Facebook and Instagram an average of 50 minutes per day? That’s more time than the average person spends socializing with other people, watching sports, and almost as much time as we spend eating. So if you’re a Facebook user, it’s now important to ask yourself, “Is spending your time on Facebook actually making you happier?”

Using Facebook passively can make you like yourself less.

If you’re the type to just view what your friends are up to, read articles, and scroll down your wall, it’s likely hurting your happiness.

A few studies have shown that using Facebook passively like this can lead to upward social comparisons. When you compare yourself to the best qualities of others on Facebook, suddenly you like yourself less. You know, like when you see the accomplishments of your high-school friends and you start questioning whether you’ve done enough with your life. Or when you see the fancy, adventurous meals your co-workers are eating and then you wonder if you are boring because, let’s face it, you never do anything cool.

It’s human nature to compare yourself to others, but on Facebook, everyone is presenting the best versions of themselves. So you always compare upward and end up feeling like you’re not good enough.

Using Facebook passively can lead to envy.

Have you had that feeling? Like when you see the beautiful beach vacation that your friend went on with the love of their life. Or when your former classmate suddenly gets their dream job and you’re still struggling to make ends meet.

The little green envy monster can make you feel inferior, hostile, and resentful. These emotions can actually harm your social relationships instead of supporting them while making you feel miserable in the process.

But wait! Facebook can actually help some people be happier. So, when and why doesn’t Facebook make you miserable?

Using Facebook actively can help you feel more socially connected

If you’re the type of Facebook user to post regularly, use messenger to chat, and disclose personal details about yourself, you may feel happier with Facebook in your life.

It turns out that both targeted one-on-one exchanges and broadcasting (posting) can increase happiness. This type of Facebook use helps you build weak social ties into stronger ones, maintain social ties that would have otherwise ended, and enhance the bonds you already have with your inner circle. You may even feel connected to a larger community. As a result, you are likely to feel less loneliness and greater well-being.

To use Facebook or not to use Facebook

If you’re not sure how you use Facebook – or you’re just not the type of person who wants to post and disclose intimate details about yourself on your Facebook wall – you’re likely better off limiting Facebook use, or, dare I say it, quitting Facebook altogether.

Research has shown that on average, people feel worse from using Facebook for 20 minutes than they do from browsing the internet elsewhere. Another study suggests that taking a week off from Facebook boosts well-being. I once took a year-long break from Facebook and, if you ask me, it vastly improved my quality of life.

So if you’re looking for the easiest possible way to find out if Facebook is making you miserable, take a week off. Then ask yourself if you felt better. If it did, consider taking more time off.

References

Verduyn, P., et al. (2017). “Do Social Network Sites Enhance or Undermine Subjective Well‐Being? A Critical Review.” Social Issues and Policy Review 11(1): 274-302.

How to Be Happy in 7 Steps

Strategies that can help you boost happiness fast

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Even though there are tons of things you can do to live a happier life, here are 7 of the most important steps to growing your happiness. Give them a try to start living a happier life.

1. Find clarity.

How are you supposed to move your life forward when you don’t even know what you feel or why you feel it? To be happier, try to gain clarity on your emotions and then what caused those feelings.

3. Live your values.

When you start to explore yourself and your values, you may discover that you’ve known all along what would make you happy, but you’re just not doing it. To be happier, get clear on your values, so that you can live your life your way, according to your own principles and values.

4. Pay attention to the good.

Sure, sometimes life is hard. But by paying attention to the good, you can rise above your challenges and be more resilient. When you find the good, savor the moment, and bring it with you to maintain happiness even during hard times.

5. Use your imagination to create the life you seek.

Did you know that your brain has a difficult time differentiating between things that happen in your imagination and things that happen in real life? So when you imagine something — even happiness — your brain acts as if it’s real. We can use imagination to help create happiness out of thin air and enjoy our experiences more.

6. Stay mindful.

Sometimes we want to escape. The world seems dark and scary, but by practicing mindfulness we experience more fully both the positive and the negative — we are more fully engaged in our lives.

7. Explore what happiness means to you.

We all define happiness in different ways. When you know what happiness means to you, you’ll have an easier time finding it. So explore what happiness means, what it looks like, and what it feels like to you.

6 Tips for Decoding Emotions in Text Messages

6 Tips for Decoding Emotions in Text Messages

Is she mad at you? Is he in love with you? Here are some ways to find out.

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How do you decode emotions in text messages? It’s easy when people say they are angry or sad or excited, or if they tack an emoji to the end of a text. But when they don’t? Given that even face-to-face communication can be confusing, it should not surprise us that these truncated, dashed-off messages can result in disastrous misunderstandings.

In the age of technology, we not only need to decode in-person interactions, but textual transmissions as well. How do we know what a person is feeling when we can’t see their faces or body language?

Here are six tips to get you started and help you better decode emotions in text messages, or at least prevent yourself from jumping to conclusions:

1. Assume good intentions.

Texts are a difficult medium for communicating emotion. We have no facial expressions or tone of voice or conversation to give us more information. And in general, text messages are short, offering us very little information to work with. A smiley face or series of exclamation points can help assure us that the text is meant to express positive emotion, but texts do not always include these indicators. Our friends’ busy schedules may lead to abrupt messages; similarly, our partner’s playful sarcasm isn’t always read as playful.

If a text doesn’t say, “I’m angry,” don’t assume that the texter is angry. We are better off reading a text with the assumption that the texter has good intentions. Otherwise, we may end up in a lot of unnecessary arguments.

2. Cultivate awareness of unconscious biases.

In my research, I have had to train numerous teams of emotion coders. But even trained coders who meet weekly to discuss discrepancies don’t agree on which emotion (or how much emotion) is being expressed. People just do not see emotions in the same way. We have unconscious biases that lead us to draw different conclusions based on the same information.

For example, every time I lead a coding team, I am reminded that males and females often differ in how they interpret others’ emotions. If Bob writes, “My wife missed our 10-year anniversary,” men may think Bob is angry, while women may think Bob is sad.

Our emotion-detection skills are affected by our personal characteristics. When it comes to detecting emotion in texts, try to remember that our unconscious biases affect our interpretations, and so the emotions we detect may be reflective of things about us as much as they are reflective of the information in the text.

3. Explore the emotional undertones of the words themselves.

The words people use often have emotional undertones. Think about some common words like love, hate, wonderful, hard, work, explore, or kitten.

If a text reads, “I love this wonderful kitten,” we can easily conclude that it is expressing positive emotions. If a text reads, “I hate this hard work,” that seems pretty negative. But if a text reads, “This wonderful kitten is hard work,” what emotion do we think is being expressed?

One approach to detecting emotions when they appear to be mixed is to use the “bag-of-words” method. This just means that we look at each word separately. How positive are the words “kitten” and “wonderful”? And how negative are the words “hard” and “work”? By looking at how positive and negative each word is, we may be able to figure out the predominant emotion the texter is trying to express.

4. Don’t assume you know how a person feels.

Text messages aren’t just short. They’re also incomplete.

With text messages, we are pretty much guaranteed to be missing information. We can’t help but try to fill in the gaps with the information we do have, and so we start thinking about how we would feel in the situation the texter is describing.

Unfortunately, there are huge individual differences in how people feel in any given situation. For example, if I grew up in poverty, earning $30 per hour might make me feel pretty darn good; but if I used to be a CEO at a Fortune 500 company, $30 per hour might make me feel dissatisfied or even depressed. The emotions that emerge in a given context, then, are highly dependent on our unique perspectives and experiences; this makes it very difficult for us to guess how someone else is feeling. Always ask yourself: Are you drawing conclusions based on emotional information provided by the other person, or making assumptions based solely on how you would feel in the same situation?

5. Explore your theory of emotion.

Academics are not the only ones with a theory of emotion; everyone has one, even you. We all have an idea about where emotions come from and what they mean. It might help to consciously explore your own (possibly unconscious) assumptions about how emotions work: Do you think feelings like anger and sadness are discrete and separable from each other, or do you think they can mix together?

Research suggests that we do tend to experience a greater amount of discrete emotions, like fear, in response to specific environmental triggers, like encountering a bear in the forest. That being said, the research also shows that when we are feeling one negative emotion, we are much more likely to be feeling other negative emotions as well. This evidence has important implications for interpreting emotions in texts. If you’ve successfully detected that a person feels sad, you can be almost certain that they are also feeling anxious or angry.

6. Seek out more information.

If you’re still unclear about what emotion is in a text, seek out more information. In an example above, Bob’s wife missed their 10-year anniversary. What if you asked Bob to tell you more? Bob might tell you that his wife died, and that is why she missed their anniversary. Suddenly, we may believe that Bob is feeling more sadness than anger. The bottom line is that you should try to avoid guessing. You need to ask questions, be empathetic, and try to see the world through the other person’s point of view.

How to Control Your Emotions

Feeling really amped up or upset? Try these strategies to take back power over your emotions.

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We’ve all been there: We’re freaking out about something that just happened to us — what someone did to us, said to us, or didn’t do for us. And we’re pissed or terrified, or defeated — our emotions have become overpowering. What do we do now to get our emotions under control when they’ve already gotten completely out of control?

Well, there are tons of ways to better manage our emotions in the long run — for example, we can develop positive thinking skills, reappraisal skills, and resiliency, but these skills require effortful practice over long periods of time.

Sure, learning these skills is a great idea, but what do we do right now to control our already out-of-control emotions? Here are some science-based tips:

1. Cut off the negative thought spirals.

When bad things happen, sometimes we get stuck ruminating about these events, thinking about what happened — or could have happened — over and over. Often it’s these ruminative thought cycles that drive our emotions up, and not the actual event itself. So to control these emotions, we usually just need to stop having the thoughts that are creating them. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

One strategy is to play “I Spy.” It might seem silly, but naming different objects you see around the room can help you redirect your thoughts to other more mundane things, so that your emotions can get a rest and start to calm down. Another strategy to redirect your thoughts is to get up, do something, or change your surroundings — for example, you could excuse yourself to go to the restroom, or if the situation allows, go for a short walk. This approach helps give you a moment to reset and take your thoughts in a new direction.

2. Take deep breaths.

“Take a deep breath” might seem like a simple platitude, but it actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm high-arousal negative emotions, like anxiety or anger. So breathing deeply is key when it comes to managing our more challenging emotions.

Because the brain has a harder time making good, rational decisions when emotions are in the driver’s seat, we are also likely to make better decisions if we take a few deep breaths first. So when emotions start to feel overwhelming, pause. Take a couple of deep breaths, and bring those intense emotions down a bit so you can carefully choose what to do next.

3. Generate some positive emotions.

Once you’ve calmed down somewhat, and you’re thinking clearly again, it’s helpful to try to infuse some positive emotions into the situation to help beat back those negative feelings. One way to do this is to look for the silver linings in whatever it is that’s bothering you. For example, did your boss tell you that you must redo the work you just did? A silver lining might be that this experience will help you become better at your job in the future. Or, are you upset about something your romantic partner did? This might be an opportunity to improve your communication skills and advocate for your needs in your relationship. It’s not always easy to find a silver lining, but if you can, it’s a good way to generate positive emotions.

Another way to infuse some positive emotions into the moment is with a funny video or inspiring photo. These little, positive things can help deflate even the most intense negative emotions. So if you’re feeling really down, do something that generates a little happiness, so you can start getting back to your normal self.

4. Practice acceptance.

It can seem counterintuitive to accept the things that are bothering us, but indeed, it is good advice to “accept the things you cannot change” when you want to control your emotions. No matter how upset we get, our emotions can’t change things that are unchangeable. So ask yourself: What part of this situation is unchangeable? Remind yourself to accept those things and focus your effort on the things you can change for the better.

5. Quit the caffeine.

Caffeine gives us energy. Of course, energy is good, but caffeine can end up producing nervous energy — energy that feels very similar to feelings of anxiety or panic. So if you’re feeling extra anxious, and you can’t figure out what’s causing it, it might just be the caffeine.

If you’re already feeling stressed about something, caffeine can exacerbate these emotions, in part because caffeine can negatively affect your sleep. When we don’t sleep well, we don’t manage our emotions as well, so our feelings can get out of control more easily. So limiting caffeine is another good way to keep those emotions in check.

6. Get some exercise.

If you’re still feeling all riled up and can’t seem to get a handle on your negative emotions, try exercise, because it turns out that exercise is an effective way to boost your mood. Do a few sprints, lift some heavy weights, or do some other activity that gets your heart rate up, because the higher the intensity of the workout, the greater the impact on your mood. The physiological changes that happen in your body make exercise a great solution for intense emotions that you’re having a hard time handling with other strategies.

5 Ways to Beat Loneliness

Are you digitally connected but still feeling lonely? These strategies can help.

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The great irony is that even though we are increasingly “connected”—on social media, video calling, and messaging—we feel lonelier than ever. And even though we may use technology to feel more connected, it may be exactly what’s leading us to feel lonely. That’s why it’s more important than ever to use these anti-loneliness strategies.

  1. Connect face-to-face
    Connecting in real life may not be as easy as it once was. We often default to using our smartphones—it’s easier and culturally accepted. But we can decrease our loneliness if we build stronger face-to-face connections. We do this by looking people in the eyes, listening, being mindful, and choosing not to be distracted by our phones or other technologies. Even if we must connect face-to-face over video rather than in person, we can benefit from being able to witness social cues and keeping other technologies muted.
  2. Be active online
    Instead of passively surfing the net or your social media, opt instead to do something that involves the active participation of other people. For example, you could play games with others, chat about something you care about, give advice on a forum, or have a video call with a friend. The more you interact with others while online, the more connected you are likely to feel.
  3. Share for real online
    Somewhere along the way, the word “sharing” got co-opted on social media to describe what is really just “humble bragging.” We post about cool things we did, nice meals we ate, or a fun vacation we went on—all things that we didn’t actually share with the people who are viewing our posts.
    Instead of posting about things you did, reclaim the word “share” for what it really means—to give a small or large portion of what is yours to someone else. You could give advice, words of support, or even empathy, all from your smartphone. Your connections are likely to be more kind and supportive, and as a result, you’re likely to feel less lonely.
  4. Capitalize on opportunities to connect with others
    When you feel good about something, share it with others right away by calling or texting a friend. Or share with the people you work with. Keep in mind that the positive things that you can share don’t have to be big. You could simply have woken up on the right side of the bed and think, “Hey, I’m feeling great today.” By sharing these moments, you create small moments of savoring and connection that can help you beat loneliness.
  5. Rethink how you spend your spare time
    When we feel lonely, sometimes we just want to retreat into a corner and hide. Other times, our endless to-do list may leave us too exhausted to be social. But opting to be alone every night watching Netflix or playing on Facebook can really get us stuck in loneliness.
    If we instead use our loneliness to motivate us to reach out to people, then we can strengthen our relationships. By opting to cope with our loneliness by seeking out social support, we create more social moments with the people in our lives who matter to us, which usually reduces our loneliness.

How To Cultivate Self-Awareness?

5 ways to become more self-aware.

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Self-awareness involves monitoring our stress, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. It is important, because it’s a major mechanism influencing personal development. Our lives can get out-of-control pretty fast if we are unaware of how and under what circumstances our emotional nature is triggered.

How do we increase self-awareness?

Self-awareness requires self-examination. But that honest, non-judgmental self-analysis isn’t always easy. We tend to berate ourselves for our failings or fantasize about how great we are, when neither is actually the case. We all have a unique mix of “good” and “bad” traits, but we are largely unaware of them. In order to self-reflect objectively, we need to quiet our minds and open our hearts, forgiving ourselves for our imperfections and offering ourselves kudos when we deserve them.

So how do we build self-awareness?

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is similar to self-awareness in that they both relate to consciously directing our thoughts inward in order to become more aware of our inner state of being, to observe our thoughts and beliefs, and to notice what triggers our emotions as they rise and fall. Mindfulness includes focused attention in the moment to whatever one is doing, and involves practices such as meditation or a quieting of the mind.

2. Write in a journal

Writing our thoughts or stream-of-consciousness ideas can help us open up to those vulnerable places within. Writing sometimes reveals what contemplation does not, so this method of self-exploration may assist you in expanding your self-awareness. Telling your story, releasing your woes on paper, dreaming up your fantasy situation — these are ways your subconscious can speak to you, revealing what’s really “the matter.”

3. Be a better listener

“Getting out of ourselves” by focusing on another person is a good antidote to stop downward spirals of negative thinking. By listening objectively, even lovingly, to what that person wants to or needs to share, we learn how to better listen to our own inner dialogues and opinions objectively and lovingly.

4. Ask for feedback

Since we are with ourselves all the time, we may miss something when we look at ourselves. That’s where the objectivity of others can be most helpful in self-assessment. If you have the courage, ask a friend or acquaintance their opinion of you, or ask about how you managed some project you worked on together or how you handled yourself in some quirky situation.

Try to be resilient and willing to hear what they have to say. When some aspect of self is revealed that could use some additional refinement, be willing to look behind the obvious to its underlying secret or wound. When you find something that needs some re-tweaking, make a mental or written note to yourself to look at it later when you have some time alone for your self-care.

5. Walk in nature

The mind tends to wander along with our feet, so with a little conscious nudging (and walking), we can examine our part in something that is happening in our lives now — at work, in social situations, in our relationships, or within the family.

4 Ways to Boost Positive Thinking

Strategies that boost positive thinking, according to science.

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When you think positive you just can’t help but be optimistic, even when everyone around you is miserable. As a result, you are happier and more satisfied with your life. So how do you get your stubborn brain to start thinking positive? ​

1. Practice gratitude

I’ll be the first to admit that there are an infinite number of things to be angry, sad, or anxious about. But the truth is that there are also an infinite number of things to feel passionate, joyful, and excited about. It’s up to us to decide which we want to focus on.

One way to train your brain to focus on the positive is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is when we feel or express thankfulness for the people, things, and experiences we have. When we express gratitude at work, we can more easily gain the respect and camaraderie of those we work with. When we are grateful for our partners or friends, they are more generous and kind to us. When we are grateful for the little things in our day-to-day lives, we find more meaning and satisfaction in our lives.

Need to build a gratitude habit? Try these 5 ways to practice gratitude.

2. Savor the good moments

Too often we let the good moments pass, without truly celebrating them. Maybe your friend gives you a small gift or a colleague makes you laugh. Do you stop to notice and appreciate these small pleasures that life has to offer? If not, then you could benefit from savoring.

Savoring just means holding onto the good thoughts and emotions we have. You can savor by holding on to the emotions you’re feeling in positive moments. Or you can savor by thinking about positive experiences from long ago. Savoring is a great way to develop a long-lasting stream of positive thoughts and emotions.

3. Generate positive emotions by watching fun videos

The broaden-and-build theory suggests that experiencing positive emotions builds our psychological, intellectual, and social resources, allowing us to benefit more from our experiences and be happier. So how do we infuse our lives with small bursts of positive emotion?

One way is to watch positive or fun videos. Watching cat videos or inspirational videos can generate a quick boost of positive emotions that can help fuel an upward spiral of positive emotions. Just be sure to mentally hang onto the positive emotions that emerge using strategies like savoring, so that you take your good mood with you when you leave the couch. And be careful not to get sucked in for too long or you may end up feeling guilty for not getting more done.

4. Stop minimizing your successes

We have a bad habit of downplaying our successes and not fully appreciating our wins. For example, we may say, “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to.” But this fails to recognize the effort that you put in—effort that not everyone would put in. These phrases minimize your small successes instead of celebrating them. As you pursue positive thinking, happiness, or well-being—whatever your goal is—take note of your wins. After every small win, celebrate a little bit.

6 Ways to Help Your Immune System Fight Coronavirus

Do these 6 things today to increase immunity and reduce the harm of illness.

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As the coronavirus spreads, we are hearing about how to reduce exposure and take care of ourselves if we get sick. These are important tips, but we’re not hearing much about how we can boost our immunity so that if we do get exposed to the virus—or worse, we get sick—our body can effectively fight back.

Our immune systems are designed to fight off illnesses and viruses. But unfortunately, the immune system can get worn down by many things typical of a modern life—for example, stress, toxins, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating. This prevents our bodies from effectively fighting off sickness.

With coronavirus all over the world, it’s more important than ever to support the immune system. We can do this by making a few key tweaks to our thoughts, actions, and habits.

Here are 6 essential ways to boost your immunity in preparation for coronavirus:

1. Reduce Stress

When you’re stressed out your body produces stress hormones which tax the immune system. So one of the most important ways to boost immunity is to reduce stress. To reduce stress, it’s key to ensure you have decent work-life balance, take breaks when you need them (both short “water-cooler” breaks and longer vacations), and to employ some calming or relaxing stress-reduction techniques, like mindfulness. And if you’re already feeling really burned out, taking adrenal support supplements like Ashwagandha can sometimes be helpful.

2. Sleep whenever you’re tired

Many of us walk around this world in a state of constant exhaustion. But every time we stay awake when our bodies want us to sleep, we increase stress and hurt our immunity. If we’re drinking caffeinated drinks all the time (e.g., coffee, black tea, soda) we may not even realize just how tired we really are. Because sleeping is essential to rebuilding a struggling immune system, we need to let ourselves sleep as much as we need.

3. Consume immunity-boosting vitamins

To support your immune system, you can eat immunity supporting foods like citrus fruits, garlic, broccoli, and spinach. If your immune system is already weak, it can also be helpful to supplement with key vitamins and minerals that may have become depleted like Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and Zinc.

4. Reduce Inflammation

Sugar, processed meat, vegetable oils, and alcohol tend to be inflammatory foods so they busy the immune system, leaving other problems in your body unaddressed. That’s why it can be really helpful to remove these inflammatory foods if we want a healthy immune system.

5. Exercise, but not too much

Exercise can be one of the best things to do to boost immunity. But we have to be careful because too much exercise is stressful on the body and can be tough on our immune system. So just keep the other tips in mind: Keep stress low, and if you’re tired, rest.

6. Stay away from toxins

Toxins can be devastating for the immune system. For example, mycotoxins from mold are notorious for destroying the immune system. Many other toxins and parasites seem to have negative effects on immunity as well. So do a parasite cleanse and minimize exposure to chlorinated drinking water, pesticides, aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., air fresheners), heavy metals, air pollution, and food additives.

By taking these actions, we can help prevent ourselves and our loved ones from suffering significantly from the coronavirus.

Can You Actually Improve Well-Being?

Discover what well-being is and why you can indeed increase your well-being.

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Well-being is the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and ability to manage stress. More generally, well-being is just feeling well.

Well-being is something sought by just about everyone, because it includes so many positive things: feeling happy, healthy, socially connected, and purposeful. Unfortunately, well-being appears to be in decline, at least in the U.S. And increasing your well-being can be tough without knowing what to do and how to do it.

Can You Actually Improve Your Well-Being?

Increasing your well-being is simple; there are tons of skills you can build. But increasing your well-being is not always easy: Figuring out what parts of well-being are most important for you and figuring out how, exactly, to build well-being skills usually require some extra help.

How Long Does It Take to Improve Well-Being?

Usually when people start consistently using science-based techniques for enhancing well-being, they begin to feel better pretty quickly—most people show notable improvements within five weeks.

Butyou have to stick to it. If you are feeling better after five weeks, you can’t just stop there.

Why? Well, you probably already know that if you stop eating healthy and go back to eating junk food, then you’ll end up back where you started. It turns out that the exact same thing is true for different types of well-being. If you want to maintain the benefits you gain, you’ll have to continue to engage in well-being-boosting practices to maintain your skills. So it’s really helpful to have strategies and tools that help you stick to your well-being goals — for example, a happiness and well-being plan or well-being boosting activities that you can continue to use throughout your life.

Where Does Well-Being Come From?

Well-being emerges from your thoughts, actions, and experiences — most of which you have control over. For example, when we think positive, we tend to have greater emotional well-being. When we pursue meaningful relationships, we tend to have better social well-being. And when we lose our job — or just hate it — we tend to have lower workplace well-being. These examples start to reveal how broad well-being is, and how many different types of well-being there are.

Because well-being is such a broad experience, let’s break it down into its different types.

5 Major Types of Well-Being

  • Emotional Well-Being. The ability to practice stress-management techniques, be resilient, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings.
  • Physical Well-Being. The ability to improve the functioning of your body through healthy eating and good exercise habits.
  • Social Well-Being. The ability to communicate, develop meaningful relationships with others, and maintain a support network that helps you overcome loneliness.
  • Workplace Well-Being. The ability to pursue your interests, values, and purpose in order to gain meaning, happiness, and enrichment professionally.
  • Societal Well-Being. The ability to actively participate in a thriving community, culture, and environment.

To build your overall well-being, you have to make sure all of these types are functioning to an extent.

Think of it like this: Imagine you are in a car. Your engine works great, and maybe your transmission works pretty well, too, but your brakes don’t work. Because your brakes don’t work, it doesn’t really matter how well your engine works; you’re still going to have trouble going about your life.

The same is true for your well-being. If everything else in your life is going great, but you feel lonely, or you’re eating unhealthfully, other areas of your life will be affected, and you likely won’t feel as well as you want to.

Because each part of well-being is important to your overall sense of well-being, let’s talk about how to build each type of well-being:

Emotional Well-Being. To develop emotional well-being, we need to build emotional skills — skills like positive thinking, emotion regulation, and mindfulness, for example. Often, we need to build a variety of these skills to cope with the wide variety of situations we encounter in our lives. When we have built these emotional well-being skills, we can better cope with stress, handle our emotions in the face of challenges, and quickly recover from disappointments. As a result, we can enjoy our lives a bit more, be happier and pursue our goals a bit more effectively.

Physical Well-Being. To develop our physical well-being, we need to know what a healthy diet and exercise routine looks like, so that we can implement effective strategies in our daily lives. When we improve our physical well-being, not only do we feel better, our newfound health can also help prevent many diseases, heal our guts, boost our emotional well-being, and limit the number of health challenges we have to deal with in our lives.

​Unfortunately, it’s possible to eat healthy but still be unhealthy. We can accidentally miss important foods or nutrients. Or we can overburden ourselves with toxins from plastic or processed food. As a result, we may need to eat additional foods, detox our bodies, or prevent these toxins from entering our bodies again. This is why it’s essential to learn about health, so that we can make the right changes — those that lead to long-term health and well-being.

Social Well-Being. To develop social well-being, we need to build our social skills, like gratitude, kindness, and communication. Social skills make it easier for us to have positive interactions with others, helping us to feel less lonely, angry, or disconnected. When we have developed our social well-being, we feel more meaningfully connected to others.

It’s important to know that building social well-being is one the best ways to build emotional well-being. When we feel socially connected, we also tend to just feel better, have more positive emotions, and we are able to cope better with challenges. This is why it’s essential to build our social well-being.

Workplace Well-Being. To develop our workplace well-being, we need to build skills that help us pursue what really matters to us. This can include building professional skills which help us to advance more effectively, but it also includes things like living our values and maintaining work-life balance. These skills let us enjoy our work more, helping us to stay focused, motivated, and successful at work. When we have developed workplace well-being, our work, and therefore each day, feels more fulfilling.

​Because we spend so much time at work, building our workplace well-being has a big impact on our overall well-being.

Societal Well-Being. To develop societal well-being, we need to build skills that make us feel interconnected with all things. We need to know how to support our environment, build stronger local communities, and foster a culture of compassion, fairness, and kindness. These skills help us feel like we’re part of a thriving community that really supports one another and the world at large. When we cultivate societal well-being, we feel like we are a part of something bigger than just ourselves.

Although each of us only makes up a tiny fraction of a society, it takes all of us to create societal well-being. If each of us did one kind act for someone else in our community, then we would live in a very kind community. Or if all of us decide we are going to recycle, then suddenly we create a world with significantly less waste. In order to live in a healthy society, we too need to contribute to making a healthy society.

There Is No Magic About Building Well-Being

Keep in mind, it takes time and effort to build any new skill set — that includes well-being skills. It’s important to be realistic with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish in a given amount of time. Having unrealistic expectations can lead you to give up before you’ve reached your well-being goals. So it’s key to create a realistic plan for your well-being, stick to it, and take small actions every day that add up to big improvements over time.