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A Sense of Wellbeing

By Kaspa Thompson

A sense of wellbeing and living a good life are intimately connected. The deeper our sense of wellbeing, the easier it is to make good choices for ourselves and others. The more good choices we make, the more our sense of wellbeing increases.

If we examine our own lives we can see this unfolding time and time again.

If we encounter something in life that disturbs us, our sense of wellbeing takes a knock. We feel unbalanced, and if we respond to the world from this place of being unbalanced, or in more extreme circumstances, from anger or anxiety, we can end up throwing oil onto the fire, and making matters worse. Where does that leave us? With an even lower sense of well-being and less likely to make good choices in the future.

However, the deeper our sense of well-being is, the less likely we are to be knocked about by events like this. If we’re feeling well rested and happy, when something comes along that is complicated, or asks us to go outside our comfort zone, we are better placed to deal with it.

If we deal with it well, our sense of well-being increases, leaving us in a better position to deal with whatever comes next.

I used to believe that ‘good work’ was producing things, or preparing for events, or doing administration; practical tasks with clear outcomes that could be easily measured.

If I wasn’t working towards these goals, I felt like I wasn’t working, and I aimed to fill my working hours with this sort of practical task.

These days I try to leave more space around these practical tasks. I have learnt that being able to work from a place of feeling good, or to respond to unexpected events from a place of feeling good, is just as important, if not more so, than the number of things I can cross off my to-do list at the end of the day.

Now, when something tricky comes along, I’m much better placed to deal with it. Some things I respond to without thinking, my sense of wellbeing is enough that many things get dealt with without producing too much disturbance. More difficult situations do still trouble me sometimes, but the extra space in my day means that I can cool off before responding, and make a good choice from a calmer place. This not only leaves me in a better place, but it means that the difficult situation is easily resolved, because I haven’t responded in a way that’s made things worse.

We can increase our wellbeing by giving ourselves space, and doing things that nourish us (spending time with good people; doing things we enjoy; looking after our bodies and minds) and also thinking clearly about the choices that we make.

If we reflect deeply on our own lives, we can see that when we make choices that are fuelled by greed or anger, or a sense of over-protectiveness, our sense of wellbeing decreases in the long term, even if, in the moment of acting, we feel some relief. However when we choose to act in ways that are good for us and others, our sense of wellbeing increases in the long-term.

Tending to both parts of this cycle leads to good results — both parts of the cycle feed each other — our sense of wellbeing increases and increases, and it becomes easier and easier to live a good life.

Kaspa Thompson is a psychotherapist, mindfulness teacher and Buddhist priest. For info on therapy and mindfulness classes see: www.kaspathompson.co.uk

and for his local Buddhist group see:

www.amidamandala.com