Saturday, January 8, 2011

Well-Being Rather than Health

Some might wonder why I am emphasizing well-being rather than health in both the name of the blog and in my approach to my entries each day.  To answer that question, I think it first helps to remember what my educational training was in--health economics.  Health is a concept with more than one dimension--we can talk about physical and mental health.  Within physical health, we can talk about different organ systems.  Health is also a very linear concept--you always aim for greater health.

For well-being, of course, we would all prefer more well-being.  But there are some people who would objective have low health on some dimension,  but who seem to lead rather fulfilling lives and whose overall well-being, at least as manifested in the way they live their lives, does not seem terribly compromises.

So, I think of well-being as being even more multi-dimensional than health and (picking up on the second part of my training--the economics) that it can involve tradeoffs.  Should I sleep more and get less done, but fel more physically healthy in the morning?  Usually, if I have to ask myself that question the answer is yes.  Does it mean that some aspect of my family health may suffer on the evening I go to bed early?  Sure.  Does it mean that some aspect of my career health my suffer?  Possibly something won't get done.  But when all is said and done, on the next day, I'll be able to take on more and rebalance myself.

Yesterday was a great example of tradeoffs even within physical health.  I did a lower intensity workout than usual because I did not have the energy for a full intensity workout at 5:30 AM, but at least I did some sort of workout.  And it helped me to feel better for the rest of the day.  Many times, I will do something that benefits one aspect of my well-being while others are put on hold.  This sense of making tradeoffs (which economists spend their careers studying) is part of what the discussion about the right pace focuses on and part of what makes focusing on well-being so interesting--it is a balancing act that involves recalibration on an almost daily basis for me.  Others, who may be more single minded about what enhances their well-being, may find that focusing on one thing all the time maximizes their well-being.  But my story of well-being involves many tradeoffs.

By the way, anyone who reads this regularly should feel free to "follow" my blog through the website or make comments.  I'm sure that we could have a very interesting discussion about different visions of well-being and how he choices I make about how to live my life and what to write about are or are not relevant to others.

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