Areas of Well-Being

How come no one ever told me NOT to travel across the country with my wife and nine-month old baby for Thanksgiving — along with the millions of other people doing the same thing?  We had to get from our house to the airport over an hour away with car-seat, stroller, luggage, an assortment of carry-ons, and, oh yeah, the baby.  Two flights and a lot of frazzled nerves later, we were in frigid northwestern PA for Thanksgiving.

My wife and I were exhausted when we arrived at my parent’s house.  We snapped at each other.  Tempers flared.  The baby was off her schedule and wouldn’t sleep.  I was cranky and rude to my loving parents.  I was dreading the return trip a week later.  How the heck was I going to turn this ship around and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family?

In this season of giving, the best thing you can do for others is to take exquisite care of yourself — something I had not done on this Thanksgiving cross-country trip.  In my last blog post I talked about the importance of responsiblyprioritizing yourself first — this does not mean ignoring your significant other, neglecting your children, or blowing off work responsibilities.  This means that you have taken such amazing care of your health and well-being that you have more time, energy, and love for your family; that your stress-levels are at an all-time low; that you are more creative at work than you have ever been.

I know that for 42 years of my life I was guilty of putting myself third or fourth on the list behind work, family, friends, and the-list-goes-on.  Once I realized that I had to responsibly put myself first, I needed to know what to focus on.  In their 2010 book, “Well Being, The Five Essential Elements” co-authors Tom Rath and Dr. Jim Harter gathered and conducted extensive research from 150 countries on well-being.  The five broad categorizes they came up with that are most important to living a healthy and productive life are Career, Social, Financial, Physical, and Community.

Are there more well-being areas than those five broad categorizes?  Of course.  And those five broad categorizes have several subsets in them.  So, here is one of my favorite well-being areas that is sometimes overlooked.   And if you ensure you are prioritizing this area, it will help you fill your well-being cup up until it is overflowing:

Environmental Well-Being:  Do you like your home environment, including where you live?  Is it decorated and set up the way that allows you to relax and be comfortable?  If you work from home is your home-office quiet and well-lit?  If you don’t work from home, how is your work environment?  Is your office, cube, or open-plan work-space enjoyable to you?  Does it support you in being creative, resourceful, and productive?  What about your car or transportation environment?  Chances are if you are spending a lot of time commuting to and from work/home/running errands and if you DON’T like your mode of transportation or your commute, it will adversely effect your ability to be productive.  What about the environment of your “third place”?  After home and work, the “third place” is where you spend most of your time.  For some people it is church.  For others it is the gym.  Or your best friends’ place.  Do these environments provide you with the challenge you need physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?  Do they allow you to de-stress, learn a new skill, or just have fun?

As it turns out, my family and I had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving.  I was able to recharge my batteries by relaxing at my very special “third place” — my parent’s beautiful, love-filled home.  I would get up early before anyone else “when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”.  I would sit quietly in the living room basking in the warm glow of our Christmas tree, and read our local newspaper while sipping a piping hot cup of coffee.  Mmmmmm.  My well-being cup runneth over…

So go ahead, give the best gift on the planet to your friends and family this year — a thoroughly relaxed, stress-free, creative, fun-loving YOU.  Take care of your well-being, especially your environmental well-being.  What and where is your vital “third place”?  If you don’t have one, now is the time to create one.  What could be better during this holiday season?