In my TEDx talk last November, I made the case for love, purpose and connection as the foundation necessary for antidoting chronic disease and experiencing deep well-being.
The current pandemic has produced a trail of social isolation, record unemployment and economic collapse. Divides both politically and socially have left many of us feeling uncertain, exposed, vulnerable, angry, confused and overwhelmed.
As our new way of life is being birthed, the way we define well-being is certain to transform. We cannot afford to underestimate the necessity of this well-being evolution in our post-pandemic recovery.
As a naturopathic physician overseeing patient transformation over two decades, I observed what I believe to be an incontrovertible truth… WELL-BEING DRIVES PERFORMANCE and SUCCESS in life, and in business.
Before this Great Pause, Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Ph.D. of Gallup, had defined well-being to encompass five essential elements: physical, community, financial, career, and social. I believe these five elements are still on point, yet will undergo a transformation themselves.
Today, I offer two additional elements to consider as essential to well-being: environmental and mindset. But first, let me be clear, this transformation is not a question of IF, it is a question of WHEN.
Physical health is so much more than the absence of symptoms or disease. It should not be any clearer as we traverse the pandemic that as a society, it is not wise, economical or effective to wait for disease to strike before we start grasping for life preservers known as drugs and vaccines. Instead we must pivot our focus to the promotion of health. By promoting health, we can improve our immune resilience and mitigate risk of infection and other preventable diseases. I predict the biggest transformation here will involve each individual’s decision to become proactive vs. reactive.
This year has brought societal dis-eases even more to the surface. While painful, they are helping us see the power of community, the need for connection, and the demand for equality of all persons regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other attempts at discrimination. What we are willing to experience as standards of community well-being are rapidly transforming in front of our eyes. Acceptance, inclusion, and safety will drive this transformation.
Corporate benefit packages had already begun integrating financial wellness and coaching, while the growing millennial workforce brought their ideology of holding work-life balance to be superior over income level. This Great Pause will accelerate these movements. The financial collapse has caused many to re-evaluate what is needed to survive, what we hold dear, what we are willing to give up or not give up in order to prioritize what matters most to us. The financial well-being transformation here will be in the decline of busyness and income as a metric of self-worth. Additionally, we will see the sensible management of financial resources take the place of our ever-rising consumerism as we become more dedicated to living a meaningful life.
In this new way of life, many people have been furloughed or let go, while many others have shifted to a work-from-home position while balancing work and family obligations, often simultaneously. Entire businesses will fail to recover, while others will flourish, and still others will be born anew. Businesses that want to stay competitive will include well-being as part of their core strategy. The depth of impact from the pandemic will bring a new perspective on purpose, fulfillment and alignment with our values and goals… not in the place of career ambition, but as an appropriate fuel for it.
As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. The effect of the pandemic on our social connections has been made quite clear to all of us. While sheltering in place, and now with graduated re-openings across the U.S., we are still in recovery mode from the impact of physically distancing ourselves from one another. While virtual connection will no doubt grow and continue, the sheer value of social connection (already grossly underestimated) will rise in prominence and priority due to its scientific prowess in empowering our biology physically, mentally, emotionally and societally.
Sustainability has been a growing cause for the last decade or so, furthered by the incredible impact of the Great Pause on our environment. Just take a look at the now famous satellite photos of heavily polluted areas of the world before, and now during this pandemic. Environmental activism will gain a boost as we add the consideration of well-being into our environment locally and globally. We cannot expect to experience well-being if the air, water and food we consume is polluted. The pandemic-induced benefits to our environment will remain urgent to protect, and perhaps easier than we think as we continue expanding our digital vs. physical footprint overall. After all, we have no planet B.
Self-determination through reflection is an important opportunity at this time. As a self-admitted achievement addict, I, too, have to remember being-ness has little to do with achievement. It is a state of flow in knowing how we want to live, how we want to show up, and how we can be more authentically connected. Reflection can come in many ways as we downshift during meditation, mindfulness, journaling, coaching, praying, even while breaking our daily routines to exercise. Cultivating a mindset of well-being will include defining our perspective of the world, our purpose and the legacy we want to leave… all in the architecture of a more intentional life.
It’s WHEN… not IF
If I told you life is empty and meaningless, I doubt you would find it comforting in these uncertain times. But if I were allowed to continue a bit further, I would clarify life is simply what it is, and we then add our meaning to it. The transformation happening all around us cannot be stopped, but it can be defined.
My best recommendation is to take the opportunity to define it for yourself, ON YOUR TERMS. It’s quite an exhilarating and freeing experience to let your perception become your reality.
A new experience of well-being is being born, but not without our say in the matter. Here I make the case for the expansion and addition of elements required for deep well-being instigated by the current pandemic.
Let each of us reflect, ask ourselves what well-being means to us, and based on these reflections… map out where we may presently reside in order to chart a path to where
we want to be. We all want to thrive and flex our resilience muscles as we emerge not into a ‘new normal’, but into a new way of life and well-being.
Dr. Brad Bongiovanni
Science & Well-Being Architect | TEDx Speaker