Keep your nose to the grindstone. How many times have we all heard this idiom, along with the explanation that we should continue to work hard to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves? However, this saying is actually not the attitude to cultivate as this new school year, or even the new job, begins. It’s not that performing to the best of one’s ability should be avoided; it’s just that one should put his best foot forward in all areas, and it’s important to remember that there is more than just one area to consider in order to have a well-rounded life experience.
Tom Rath and Tim Harter, authors of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, discuss five areas that should be considered when working toward wellbeing; Rath and Harter are among many who assure us that self-care is not selfish…it’s essential, and should be considered as such. Self-care can be accomplished by considering the social, career, community, financial, and physical areas that Rath and Harter review.
- Social wellbeing includes maintaining strong relationships and having love in your life. We all need people who are important to us, and to whom we are important, in return. It makes no difference if these people are family, or friends who have become our family; regardless, they are important to us…we help care for them and they help care for us.
- Career wellbeing involves enjoying what you do on a daily basis. It’s not necessarily a high salary that makes a job worthwhile; rather, it’s important to feel that you are making a difference…that you are contributing to the lives of others. We all want to feel good about how we spend our time, and see how others benefit from the efforts we put forth on a continual basis.
- Another area of importance is community wellbeing. This is the arena that shows you as a part of a group. Different people can be a part of the communities that are of the greatest importance to them, and the groups can vary greatly. For some, this could be their school or place of work; others might choose to become a part of their religious community. Others, still, may simply find joy by meeting others at a town center. Regardless, it’s important to have a place to “hang your hat,” knowing that, should you be absent, others will notice and miss having you there, just as you would notice and miss them should they be absent. Also, it’s important that you know you are important to others, just as they are important to you.
- Financial wellbeing involves being able to pay for your basic needs. Food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials are included in this domain. While this area does not include the means to live in a mansion or take fancy, expensive trips, you’ll still have the security of knowing that the basics for your daily life will be maintained.
- Finally, physical wellbeing involves maintaining a level of health and energy in order to do the things you want to do on a daily basis. The benefit of this category is that participants are able to join in activities that they wish to have as a part of their daily lives, and even a little bit more than that.
While each of these domains are important individually, there are some organizations, such as Advantage Tennis Clubs in the New York area, that offer programming that will fulfill multiple domains of wellbeing. The Advantage Tennis Quickstart Program shows their dedication to children by using smaller nets, child-sized racquets and low compression balls to make learning the game more user friendly; in this way, children are encouraged to establish a lifelong habit of self-care, and, at the same time, enhance their wellbeing as body awareness, coordination and balance all improve.
What programs that support several of those essential elements can you find in your area? We should all be on the lookout for programs that will benefit us all in multiple ways.
Photograph by Felix Russell-Shaw.