Wellbeing & How to Improve It - Mental Fitness: Converge International - Page 8



WHERE DOES WELLBEING COME FROM?
During early investigations into wellbeing, researchers were surprised to discover that wellbeing is remarkably stable
throughout an individual’s life. Even though individuals sometimes experienced a “shock” that jolted wellbeing (for
example a traumatic event), people usually reverted relatively quickly to their former wellbeing level. This was also
true when a major positive event happened, such as winning the lottery7. As a result of this observation, researchers
developed the idea of a “set-point” for wellbeing.
However, although stable wellbeing over time is an observable phenomenon, researchers found that a set-point
does not entirely explain differences in wellbeing between individuals or changes in wellbeing over the course of an
individual’s life. They, therefore, embarked on projects to identify different drivers of wellbeing.
In doing so, they found there were three quite different types of wellbeing drivers.
PERSONALITY
The first component that drives wellbeing is an individual’s personality.
This is likely to be partly genetic (and therefore a reason why wellbeing has a hereditary quality) and partly the
influence of early experiences.
Generally, normal personality types are considered to have five key traits (the “Big Five”)8: Extraversion,
Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience. Although some changes in
personality are possible over time, personalities are relatively enduring, making this component of wellbeing
fairly stable. Of the “Big Five”, the personality traits generally agreed upon to affect wellbeing are:

Extraversion (more extraverted people have somewhat higher wellbeing on average)

Neuroticism (people with higher neuroticism have somewhat lower wellbeing on average) and;

Openness to Experience (more open people have somewhat higher wellbeing on average)9.
Researchers believe that these personality drivers of wellbeing are what cause wellbeing to remain relatively
stable.
ACTIVITIES
The second component driving wellbeing is specific actions a person takes in their daily life.
While these are sometimes related to personality (some actions will come more naturally for people with
certain personality types), the actions or activities themselves seem to have wellbeing benefits independent of
personality.
CIRCUMSTANCES
The final component or driver of wellbeing is life events or circumstances.
Stressful or tragic events can cause wellbeing to drop. Sometimes this is temporary, sometimes enduring.
However, it is important to note that there is overlap between these components. As each factor is related, they not
only affect wellbeing, but also affect each other. So, any model of wellbeing contains more complex interrelationships
than a simple apportionment might suggest. Figure 1 is a representation of this on page 10.
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WELLBEING AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT | A WHITE PAPER FROM CONVERGE INTERNATIONAL | 2020

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