A Journey Into the Art of Subjective Well Being

White daisies in the grass under a tree, embodying subjective well-being.

For many, happiness ranks high on their list of life goals, and it’s no surprise ― we all strive to feel good about our lives. But defining happiness and understanding how to measure it can be complex tasks.

This is where subjective well-being (SWB), a term coined by psychologists to cover both life satisfaction and happiness, comes into play.

What is subjective well being? SWB refers to an individual’s overall sense of happiness, satisfaction, and contentment with their life.

Beyond fleeting emotions, SWB represents a deep-seated sense of fulfillment that originates from within.

This self-reflective inquiry encourages us to evaluate satisfaction in various areas of life, including our relationships, physical and mental health, work, and emotional well-being.

Given its deeply personal nature, subjective well-being differs for everyone. It is shaped by our unique thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

This variability explains why subjective well-being and self-reported well-being are often used interchangeably. Yet, irrespective of the terminology, understanding the significance of subjective well-being can profoundly impact personal growth.

By gaining insight into what truly brings us happiness, we empower ourselves to make intentional choices that contribute to a more fulfilling life.

This is where the role of life coaching becomes valuable, offering guidance and support as we navigate our journey toward greater happiness and contentment.

If you find yourself seeking a deeper sense of life satisfaction, exploring the realm of subjective well-being may offer valuable insights and pathways to fulfillment.

Understanding Subjective Well Being

Understanding self-reported well being and the measures of subjective well being is a vast topic that could fill numerous books. Here are the key points to help you grasp the concept more easily.

  • Emotional Well-Being: This refers to our day-to-day feelings, covering the range of emotions from joy and gratitude to stress and anxiety.
  • Life Satisfaction: Think of this as your overall happiness rating, including how satisfied you are with work, relationships, health, and other aspects of life.
  • Purpose and Meaning: This involves finding your “why” in life and feeling fulfilled, whether through personal experiences or connections to something larger, like spirituality or making a difference.
  • Influencing Factors: Boosting emotional well-being and life satisfaction can involve maintaining a positive mindset, appreciating the good things, focusing on strengths, and drawing from positive psychology (the science of human flourishing).
  • Mindset and Perception: A growth mindset, which focuses on resilience and personal development, tends to lead to greater life satisfaction.
  • Relationships and Social Connections: Strong friendships and relationships contribute significantly to happiness, while loneliness often leads to lower levels of happiness and well-being.

Assessing Your Current Subjective Well Being

A butterfly is sitting on a flower in a field.

It’s unproductive to dwell on dissatisfaction with your life circumstances. Instead, focus on enhancing your subjective well-being by understanding your current level of contentment and happiness.

Here are some strategies to assess and reflect on your current state.

Self-Reflection Exercises

Your thought process has a lot more impact on your emotions and well being than you might think. Understanding your current SWB requires mastering your thoughts and emotions.

I highly suggest adding self-reflection exercises like Reverse Brainstorming and the Five Whys to your routine. Reverse brainstorming means generating ideas on how to cause a problem instead of solving it.

This can help uncover root causes or creative solutions. The Five Whys technique involves asking “why” multiple times to dig into the root cause of an issue.

Here’s how to use both methods:

Reverse Brainstorming

  1. Start by identifying an aspect of your life where you feel dissatisfied or want to improve your SWB.
  2. Instead of brainstorming solutions, think of all the actions, behaviors, or situations that could contribute to making the problem even worse.
  3. Review the list of ideas and consider why each one would make the problem worse. This can help uncover underlying causes or factors contributing to your current state of SWB.
  4. Once you’ve identified potential root causes, brainstorm potential solutions or strategies to address them. Focus on positive actions you can take to improve your SWB and address the underlying issues.

The Five Whys

  1. Start by identifying a specific issue or problem that you want to explore in relation to your SWB. This could be a recurring challenge, a source of stress, or a barrier to happiness.
  2. Ask yourself why the issue exists or why you’re experiencing it. Write down your initial answer.
  3. For each answer you provide, ask “why?” again to dig deeper into the root cause. Repeat this process five times or until you feel you’ve reached a fundamental cause or understanding.
  4. Review your answers and reflect on the insights you’ve gained. Look for patterns, underlying beliefs, or recurring themes that may be influencing your SWB.

You could also consider gathering feedback from trusted friends and family members regarding your thoughts, feelings, life events, and experiences.

Alternatively, if you prefer an impartial perspective, consulting a life coach or therapist can offer valuable insights into areas of strength and opportunities for growth.

Additionally, remember to do regular emotional check-ins to monitor your mood and overall emotional well-being.

Setting Subjective Well Being Goals and Milestones

If you feel dissatisfied with life, consider setting personal goals and milestones. Start with small, measurable goals that hold personal significance, like improving relationships or prioritizing self-care.

Setting clear objectives helps you track progress and navigate towards personal fulfillment.

Identifying Areas of Strength and Growth

Consider dedicating some time, perhaps during the weekend, to reflect on your life. The goal here is simple: identify your strengths and areas for growth.

This introspection isn’t about dwelling on weaknesses; it’s about celebrating achievements, no matter how small.

Be honest about challenges or dissatisfaction. Ignoring them won’t help in assessing your SWB. Remember, self-awareness is key for developing improvement strategies and boosting life satisfaction.

Curious about your subjective well-being? The next section is a thought-provoking quiz designed to shed light on your current satisfaction levels.

Following the quiz, you’ll discover actionable strategies for enhancement to further your well-being journey.

Life Satisfaction Questionnaire

Ready to see where you are at when it comes to overall life satisfaction? Take our little questionnaire below to see where you measure on the life scale.

Instructions: Please rate each statement on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is “strongly disagree” and 7 is “strongly agree.”

  1.  Overall, I am satisfied with my life and am a happy person.
  2. I feel that I am leading a meaningful and purposeful life.
  3. My daily activities bring me a sense of joy and fulfillment.
  4. I have a good balance between work, leisure, and personal time.
  5. I am content with my current financial situation.
  6. I feel a sense of belonging and connection with others.
  7. I am optimistic about my future.
  8. I am generally happy with my physical health.
  9. I have supportive and fulfilling relationships with family and friends.
  10. I feel in control of my life and the decisions I make.
  11. I am able to manage stress effectively.
  12. I have a positive feeling and outlook on challenges and setbacks.
  13. I regularly engage in activities that bring me a sense of accomplishment.
  14. I am satisfied with the progress I am making towards my goals.
  15. I am able to express myself and communicate my thoughts and feelings.
  16. I feel a sense of gratitude for the positive aspects of my life.
  17. I have a healthy work-life balance.
  18. I am satisfied with the level of personal growth and self-improvement in my life.
  19. I enjoy and appreciate the simple pleasures in life.
  20. I feel a sense of security and safety in my daily life.

After you have responded to our Satisfaction of Life Scale Questions, you can calculate your overall score by summing up the individual responses.

Higher average life satisfaction scores generally indicate a higher level of satisfaction and happiness overall.

How do you measure? Are you on the road to greater happiness? Or do you need some strategies for dispelling negative emotions?

Strategies for Boosting Subjective Well Being

A bench in front of a lake.

No matter where you fall on the happiness spectrum ― whether you’re feeling content or dissatisfied ― there’s always room for improvement in your subjective well-being and overall happiness.

Here are some effective strategies to boost your life satisfaction.

But remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to achieving high SWB. It takes consistent practice and a combination of strategies to see real positive effects.

Cultivating Positive Habits

Make time each day for gratitude, even if it’s just a few minutes. Instead of only focusing on the positives, try this twist: appreciate the challenges and tough moments in your life.

It might feel a bit strange at first, but it can help you recognize the lessons and growth that come from difficult situations.

Rather than ignoring hardships, acknowledge them and be grateful for the strength and resilience they’ve helped you develop.

This shift in perspective can give you a more balanced view of life, where you can appreciate both the highs and lows.

Remember to make this counterintuitive practice of happiness regular and consistent rather than just as a one-off event.

Mindfulness and meditation are effective mental tools that can help you cultivate the habit of being fully present in your activities to momentarily alleviate stress.

Consider incorporating them into your daily routine to calm the mind and manage stress more effectively in your daily life.

Additionally, prioritize self-care by setting aside time for yourself regularly. Practicing self-love and care significantly contributes to your overall well-being and happiness.

Another beneficial practice is affirmations. Whether you incorporate them into your morning routine or repeat them throughout the day, these concise, positive statements can foster a resilient mindset, regardless of external circumstances.

Building Meaningful Relationships

Improving the quality of your relationships can significantly increase your overall happiness. Start by building meaningful connections, especially with the important people in your life. Here are some key ways to do so:

  • Instead of just sharing successes and achievements, consider sharing your vulnerabilities and struggles with trusted friends or family members. Opening up in this way can deepen connections and foster a sense of empathy and understanding.
  • Rather than just meeting for coffee or dinner, plan adventurous activities with the important people in your life. This could be hiking, rock climbing, or trying out new experiences. Shared adventures create lasting memories and strengthen bonds.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation together. Engaging in mindfulness exercises as a pair or group can deepen your connection, increase emotional awareness, and promote mutual support and understanding.

Pursuing Personal Growth and Development

Feeling dissatisfied with life often comes from a sense of not achieving enough. One way to change this is by setting personal goals that truly resonate with you.

These goals should align with your values and aspirations so they give you a sense of purpose and lead to personal growth and fulfillment.

Additionally, happy individuals are always open to learning new things. Embrace continuous learning, skill improvement, and expanding your horizons to foster growth.

It’s important to recognize that everyone faces life’s challenges, regardless of their pursuit of happiness. The key to maintaining contentment lies in embracing change and bouncing back stronger.

Rather than resisting change, find the silver lining and adapt quickly to overcome obstacles.

Integrating Subjective Well Being Into Daily Life

Amidst the busy pace of life, it’s essential to focus on enhancing happiness and satisfaction. Here are some simple tips to add joy to your daily routine:

  • Embrace Discomfort: Seek out situations that push you out of your comfort zone. Growth often occurs when we challenge ourselves and face adversity. Whether it’s trying a new hobby, engaging in a difficult conversation, or taking on a new project, stepping into discomfort can lead to personal growth and increased satisfaction.
  • Cultivate Gratitude Through Acts of Kindness: Instead of simply reflecting on what you’re grateful for, actively express gratitude through acts of kindness toward others. This could involve volunteering, helping a friend in need, or simply offering a word of encouragement. Engaging in altruistic behavior can foster a sense of connection and purpose, contributing to overall well-being.
  • Practice Mindful Consumption: Be intentional about how you consume media and information. Limit exposure to negative news and social media content that may contribute to feelings of stress or inadequacy. Instead, seek out sources of inspiration, education, and entertainment that uplift and inspire you.

Final Thoughts

Prioritizing subjective well-being through mindful habits, meaningful relationships, and a supportive environment can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Keep nurturing your growth and well-being, and remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Consider exploring the benefits of life coaching to support your journey towards lasting happiness and satisfaction.

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