Most of us strive toward well-being. According to Psychology Today, well-being means having an experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. To experience these, one requires good mental health, a sense of meaning in life, life satisfaction with material needs met, and the ability to manage stress. The last part, the ability to manage stress is of high importance. We cannot always guarantee good mental health, and our meaning in life can change to become meaningless. We also cannot guarantee that we will always feel satisfied with life. There lies the difference between the definition of well-being as accepted in society and what well-being means in mindfulness. What exactly does well-being mean in mindfulness?
There is no permanent well-being
Our satisfaction with life can seem so fragile. The fact is straightforward. It is impossible for us to maintain a healthy body and mind forever. What most organizations propose as a sense of well-being is actually not lasting. Because most fail to mention that well-being is impermanent, we strive to feel happy and may become upset when that happiness slips through our fingers.
How many people feel happy when the state of their health changes? You may feel healthy and strong today, attributing your wellness to consistent exercise and organic food. But out of the blue, you may feel sick. Or you may have practiced yoga to keep yourself fit for a long time, only to find your flexibility compromised by arthritis. Thus, striving for well-being is only a temporary solution. However, it is different for well-being in the context of mindfulness.
What well-being means in the context of mindfulness
Contrary to our normal perception of well-being, mindfulness views well-being differently. In the practice of mindfulness, we don’t deny the fragility and the impermanence of life. Life situations can change instantly without our expectations. We are often not in control of our lives although we often think we are, especially when it comes to our physical and mental health and functions.
Mindfulness helps us to become aware of the fragility of life, and not to be anxious. It reminds us to be present in life and to pay attention to those we are with so as not to miss life’s moments. We can learn to become aware of life’s every moment whether they are important or mundane. After all, isn’t living a full life about being attentive to all moments, whether good or bad?
Experiencing all moments with mindfulness
We perceive positive thinking, a sharp mind, and physical agility and strength as well-being. Anything that opposes these are considered negative or detrimental to our lives. By opposing what is bound to happen such as declining health due to aging, we are setting ourselves up for an experience of ill-being.
Without noticing what we are doing to ourselves, we continue to create opportunities and conditions for ill-being without knowing. A mindfulness practitioner knows why s/he is practicing mindfulness. S/he understands the importance of not expecting anything other than physical and mental decline. And s/he understands deeply how mindfulness can help the mind in times of fear and uncertainty.
The ability to hold unpleasant experiences with compassionate attention, while being open to learning from each experience is the purpose of mindfulness. A mindfulness practitioner knows how to be kind to the self and others. S/he is open to learning from the most dreaded feelings and is wise about not holding onto positive states. Since holding onto positive states, which are bound to change, is a condition for stress.
Learning to live in both positive and negative states while holding the mind in balance, takes practice and interest. Interested to know mindfulness and how to hold all your experiences in balance? Get in touch with us about our 8-week mindfulness course.