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What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing is about people and communities being whole. It’s the set of needs and experiences universally required in combination and balance to weather challenges and have health and hope.

All of us — from janitor to judge, senior executive to senior citizen, adult to adolescent — are hardwired for wellbeing.

So what are these universal needs and experiences and why do they matter?

Science and human experience tells us we all are driven to meet our needs in five domains of wellbeing: social connectedness, safety, stability, mastery and meaningful access to relevant resources.

One domain isn’t more important than the others — in fact, they’re interconnected and we’re hardwired for balance among these five domains. Building assets in one domain sometimes means giving up something we value in another and asking, “Is it worth it to me?

Click on any part of the star to learn more about each domain:

The degree to which we can meet needs particularly important for our situation in ways that are not extremely difficult, and are not degrading or dangerous.

The degree to which we have and perceive a sufficient number and diversity of relationships that allow us to give and receive information, emotional support and material aid; create a sense of belonging and value; and foster growth.

The degree to which we can expect our situation and status to be fundamentally the same from one day to the next; where there is adequate predictability for us to concentrate on the here-and-now and on the future, growth and change; and where small obstacles don’t set off big cascades.

The degree to which we can be our authentic selves and not be at heightened risk of physical or emotional harm.

The degree to which we feel influence over our future and the decisions we make, and where we experience some correlation between efforts and outcomes.

Why wellbeing matters

We’re all driven to meet our needs for wellbeing based on what’s available to us. Our brains are hardwired for the Five Domains of Wellbeing and they guide our everyday behavior.

Interested to explore these five essential domains? Download our PDF or watch this video to learn more:

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Curious about how you could apply the Five Domains of Wellbeing in your work?

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How you can use the Five Domains of Wellbeing in practice?

The drive for wellbeing is universal, but access to it isn’t. The racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression baked into the fabric of our country mean that our society is set up to provide access to wellbeing for some, and undermine it for others.

To create durable change, we need to:

Learn HOW in our Wellbeing Bootcamp