Community Wellbeing

For the last few weeks, I have posted highlights from the book Wellbeing by Tom Rath. Below are highlights from the fifth and final area.

Thriving Community Wellbeing is about what we do to give back to our community

  •  Choosing the community you live in
    • Physical safely and low crime
    • Areas that are a good fit for your personality, family, interests and personal pursuits
      • Aesthetics
      • Climate
      • Availability of recreational activities of interest to you
      • Social offerings
  • Community involvement and being part of organizations
    • Context to connect with a wider network of friends or acquaintances
    • Helps to have a default to service opportunities
  • At the highest end of the Community Wellbeing continuum is giving back to society. This may be what differentiates an exceptional life form a good one.
    • People with thriving Community Wellbeing say that the greatest contribution they had made in their life is the impact they have had on another person, group or community.
  • Donating money result is a greater return for our wellbeing that buying material goods for ourselves.
  • When we donate our time, we get a “helper’s high” and feel stronger, more energetic, and more motivated after helping others even in the smallest ways.
  • When we see how we can make a difference, this gives us greater confidence in our own ability to create change in other areas of our lives.
  • Welldoing, over the course of our lives:
    • Promotes deeper social interaction
    • Enhanced meaning and purpose
    • A more active lifestyle
    • Keeping us from being too preoccupied with ourselves or getting into harmful emotional states
    • Increases longevity
    • Reduces stress and negative emotions
  • People who make significant contributions to community organizations usually have an emotional tie to the organization’s mission or cause.
  • People with high Community Wellbeing make their interests known, particularly in their workplace and church. Therefore, they are more likely to be called upon to get involved.
  • People who are engaged in their careers are 20%-30% more likely to give back to their community.

Summary

People with high Community Wellbeing feel safe and secure where they live. They take pride in their community, and they believe it is headed in the right direction. This often results in their wanting to give back and make a lasting contribution to society. People with thriving Community Wellbeing have identified areas where they can contribute to their community based on their own strengths and passions. They tell others about these interests to connect with the right groups and causes. Their contributions may start small, but over time, it leads to more involvement and has a profound impact on their community. The efforts of people with thriving Community Wellbeing are what create communities we cannot imagine living without.

Three Recommendations for Boosting Community Wellbeing:

  1.  Identify how you can contribute to your community based on your personal mission.
  2. Tell people about your passions and interests to they can connect you with relevant groups and causes.
  3. Opt in to a community group or event. Even if you start small, start now.

 

Setting Positive Defaults

 

  • Any time you help your short-term self work with your long-term self, you have an opportunity.
  • Intentionally choose to spend more time with the people you enjoy most.
  • Engage your strengths as much as possible.
  • Structure your finances to minimize the worry caused by debt.
  • Make exercise a standard part of your routine.
  • Make healthier decisions in the supermarket so you don’t have to trust yourself when you have a craving a few days later.
  • Make commitments to community, religious, or volunteer groups, knowing that you will follow through once you’ve signed up in advance.
  • Through these daily choices, you create stronger friendships, families, workplaces and communities.

 

Physical Wellbeing

Another installment from the book Wellbeing by Tom Rath

With every bite and drink we take, we make a choice. We can select something that is a net positive and benefits our health or we can choose something that is a net negative.

  • What we eat and drink, coupled with adequate sleep and vigorous exercise, make our bodies run much more effectively.
  • Lifestyle changes are difficult to make. Therefore, we need to understand how negative choices affect us today. When we see the connection between short-term incentives enabling us to make net positive decisions in the moment, it helps us reach our longer term goals.
  • Positive and negative daily decisions accumulate over the years and shape our lives and generations after us.

What we eat

    • Eat more omega-3s from fish, nuts and seeds
    • Eat less omega-6s from meat and vegetable oils
    • Meals high in carbohydrates and sugar send a message to our brain to consume more
    • Food with unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts and olive oil signal our brain that we are full and we should stop eating.
    • Eat vegetables with darker tones of red, green and blue
      • Reds in apples, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, red peppers, radishes, chili peppers and pomegranates.
      • Greens in broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, spinach, sprouts, lettuce, arugula, collard greens, kale or Swiss chard.
      • Blues in blueberries, blackberries, cabbage and grapes.
    • Positive Defaults for your Health
      • Make a shopping list and buy healthy foods at the store, so that your kitchen and refrigerator are full of healthy foods. Spur-of-the-moment choices are usually not the best.
      • When eating out, choose a restaurant that serves mostly healthy food.
      • Better yet, taking a nutritious meal to work is healthier and saves money.
  • Exercise
    • Only 30% of Americans get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
    • People who exercise at least two days a week are happier and have significantly less stress.
    • Each additional day of exercise—up to six days a week—boosts energy levels.
    • On days when you don’t have 20-30 minutes to exercise, a mere 11 minutes of lifting weights increases metabolic rate, which helps burn fat throughout the day.
    • One of the primary benefits to exercise is that you feel better about yourself and your appearance, and it boosts confidence.
  • Sleep
    • Getting a good night’s sleep clears stressors for the day before and gives us a fresh start on the day.
    • Adequate sleep increases our chances of having energy and high wellbeing throughout the day.
    • Adequate sleep allows our brain to process what we learned the day before and solve problems.
    • People who get too little sleep (5-6 hours) are 34% more likely to experience a substantial weight gain.
    • People who get too much sleep (9-10 hours) are 25% more likely to experience a substantial weight gain.
  • Economics of poor health in our country
    • Healthcare costs consume 16% of the US GDP and is on the rise
    • Healthy Americans are paying a tax of $1,500 per year to subsidize unhealthy Americans
    • Half of all healthcare cost are consumed by 5% of the population
    • 75% of all healthcare costs are due to largely preventable conditions such as stress, tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor food choices.
  • Creating sustainable change best happens in the context of community. For example, if you enroll in an intensive weight-loss program, after 10 months, the chances of your maintaining your weight loss is:
    • 24% if you enroll alone
    • 50% if you enroll with a social support group of three strangers
    • 66% if you enroll with three friends or colleagues

Summary

People with thriving Physical Wellbeing effectively manage their health. They exercise regularly and feel better throughout the day as a result. They make good dietary choices, which keeps their energy high throughout the day and sharpens their thinking. They get enough sleep to wake up feeling well-rested and to process what they learned the day before—and to get a good start on the next day. People with thriving Physical Wellbeing look better, feel better, and will live longer.

Three Recommendations for Boosting Physical Wellbeing:

  1.  Get at least 20 minutes of physical activity each day—ideally in the morning to improve your mood throughout the day.
  2. Sleep enough to feel well-rested (generally seven to eight hours) but not too long (more than nine hours).
  3. Set positive defaults when you shop for groceries. Load up on natural foods that are red, green and blue.

 

A Case Study in Contrasts

Yesterday I visited with two wealthy elderly widows, one in my office and one at assisted living.  Both have lots of health issues and are suffering a great deal.  But how they are dealing with their suffering is a study in contrasts.  One has one foot in heaven, and is waiting expectantly to get there.  The other seems to have one foot in hell, where there is constant misery.

One has a spirit of great determination.  She is not letting her physical limitations stopping her from serving at her church.  She told me about how she gathered all her strength so that she could speak about her doll collection at a mother-daughter banquet, and how she is supporting her children and grandchildren.  When I asked her how she manages to do this, she spoke of her deep faith, and shared with me what God has spoken to her from her Jesus Calling devotion book.

The other former client is living in hopeless despair.  When I entered her room at the assisted living facility, she was telling the worker that someone had stolen money from her.  As I listened to her monologue of woe, she mostly talked about her money, which seems to be her only friend.  She complained about her relatives, was mad at God for allowing her to have a stroke, warned me about making friends with the staff and other residents.  She wants to die and end her misery.

Seeing this contrast presents makes me ask what will I be like in my 80’s?  Will my life be characterized by thankfulness for the good things God has given me?  Will I embrace my sufferings and allow them to draw me closer to God?  Will I be a blessing to others?

Or will I focus on my sufferings and be bitter?  Will I focus on my loneliness and isolation?

I pray that for whatever time God gives me, whether a few days or a few decades, that I might be filled up with God’s goodness and overflow that goodness to others.

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