Explore the three key questions for your own Well-Being Checkup by downloading and printing this helpful journal to record your reflections and insights.
People understand that routinely, they ought to get a physical checkup, or even take a look at their finances, or the state of their car. What about a Well-Being checkup?
What about a "What's it like to be you" checkup? How are you doing?
I think there are three relevant questions there:
- What's your resting state? What's your typical mood as you move through a day? Is your mood colored with a sense of weariness, frustration, defeat, anxiety, irritability, or just numbness? Or, on the other hand, is your mood colored with a sense of optimism, basic happiness, and contentment, and feeling lovingly connected with enough other people? What's your resting state?
- How rapidly can you recover to your resting state if you've been knocked out of it by some event, some stressor, or some disappointment, or some conflict with another person?
- What's your comfort zone? In other words, are you able to maintain a pretty happy resting state and rapid recovery, as long as you stay inside this fairly small window of tolerance? Or, in fact, are you able to live life in a large way, with a large window of tolerance, and still have really good resting state well-being and rapid recovery when you're stressed, along the way?
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The Importance of Meeting Your 3 Core Needs for Lasting Well-Being
We all have needs, and scientists have a really nice way of sorting our needs, or deep wants, into three basic groups: needs for safety, for satisfaction, and for connection.
In real life, things kind of blur together sometimes - and that's okay - but you can tell the difference between being anxious about something - which would indicate a need for safety - on the other hand, maybe feeling disappointed in your relationship with another person - which would speak to the need for connection.
So here, I want to talk about examples of indicators of needs, and specific resources a person can grow inside themselves to deal with those issues that are well-matched to them.
With safety, I think there are three major indicators:
- Feelings of anxiety, worry, apprehensiveness, panic
- Feelings of anger, ranging from mild exasperation all the way out to buried rage
- Feelings of helplessness, immobilization, futility, and defeat
Those are the three major indicators of needs for safety.
Examples for matched resources would be things like:
- Can you calm the body?
- Can you recognize when you're alright?
- Can you internalize experiences of protection? Or, that other people are there for you?
- Is there a strong sense inside of grit, and fortitude?
- Is there a sense inside of what's called "agency", efficacy, or - as I'd put it - feeling more like a hammer and less like a nail, to deal with qualities of helplessness?
So you can see right there, many examples of how we can identify and grow psychological resources inside that address a particular need for safety, and we can do the same thing for the other two needs we have for satisfaction, and connection.
If we think of our need for satisfaction and deep wants in that area, I think there are 4 major indicators that there's trouble with regard to that need:
- A sense of frustration that you are being blocked in the attainment of goals
- Disappointment that you didn't get something you wanted or expected
- A feeling of loss, that something was really taken away from you
- An overall feeling of "blah, life is gray, there’s not really much enjoyment in life"
Those are four indicators of issues with satisfaction.
And it's powerful to appreciate the fact that you can help yourself have experiences that are matched to those needs, that will help you. And also, through internalizing those experiences - along the way as a bonus benefit - you can grow inner psychological resources of various kinds to meet your needs more effectively for satisfaction, as well as internalize over time, the felt sense of needs sufficiently met. So increasingly you can meet the next moment feeling already capable to achieve your goals, and already content in the core of your being.
Resources that are matched to needs for satisfaction are:
- A sense of lots and lots of little successes
- The repeated internalization of wholesome experiences of pleasure as you move through your day
Each one of these experiences is typically pretty brief - 5 seconds here, 20 seconds there - usually in the flow of your day it's typically pretty mild. And yet, bit by bit, drop by drop you can fill yourself up from the inside out. Synapse by synapse, hardwired into your nervous system, every step of the way.
If we want to talk about our need for connection - as a broad term, and related deep wants - indicators of issues there, the felt sense of unmet needs in this area, include:
- Feelings of loneliness
- Feeling rejected, hurt, or inadequate
- Feelings of resentment, or being caught up in some kind of tangle with other people
- Difficulties with forgiveness
So what are we going to do about those challenges?
People often feel stuck with these kind of issues, and yet it's so hopeful to appreciate that actually there are many things you can do. Certain key resources are well-matched to issues with our needs for connection.
For example, I think there are five different ways to feel cared about. And in anybody's life, there usually is an opportunity to have at least one of these experiences each day. Kind of from easy to more significant:
- Feeling included - you're part of a group, you're part of a team, you have a sense of common cause with other people.
- Second, are you seen? Is someone listening to you? Are they trying to understand you? Are they giving you empathy?
- Third, is there appreciation? Is someone grateful for something you've done? Have they chosen you in some way? Do they respect your opinion, do they ask for your help? That's appreciation.
- Fourth, are you liked? Is there ordinary friendliness, even from the hotdog vendor, or the passing smile of a stranger on the street? Or the sense of being liked by friends, including with healthy affection?
- Fifth, of course - opportunities to feel loved.
If any one of these is true, factually, that's an opportunity for an authentic experience of feeling cared about which then is a chance to take it into yourself. And in so doing, gradually heal issues of relationships.
In the Foundations of Well-Being program, we systematically go through each one of these three needs - and grow resources that are matched to it - in four kinds of ways, having to do with four different aspects of well-being:
- Recognizing what's happening around us and inside ourselves
- Resourcing - growing the good inside ourselves
- Regulating ourselves to manage our three major needs
- Relating to the wider world
Thus giving us the 12 strengths, the 12 Pillars or Foundations of Well-Being. It sounds complicated, but it's really basically simple: One step of the way, 12 major strengths, increasing your resting state of well-being, and your capacity to cope with life and help other people along the way.
Hardwire Lasting Well-Being into Your Brain and Your Life
with the Foundations of Well-Being Online Program
Rick Hanson shows you how to use the science of positive neuroplasticity to turn ordinary experiences into powerful inner strengths, including compassion, calm, confidence, gratitude, and self-worth. It’s like building muscles for true happiness - one simple step at a time.
Also, therapists and mental health professionals can earn up to 20 CE hours. Click here to learn more.LEARN MORE or SIGN UP