I am really happy to offer my new experiential online program, The Foundations of Well-Being. This yearlong journey uses the power of positive neuroplasticity to hardwire more happiness, resilience, self-worth, love, and peace into your brain and your life. Thousands of studies show that you really can change your brain – and your life – for the better.
Each month we’ll focus on one of the 12 Pillars of Well-Being – key inner strengths for greater happiness, love, and wisdom. Every Pillar maps to one of the four primary factors of well-being: Recognizing, Resourcing, Regulating, and Relating.
Even if you’re not planning on participating in the program, understanding these Pillars and how they work in daily life can be a great way to further your well-being.
In my previous article I introduced the course and covered the three Pillars related to Recognizing: Self-Caring, Mindfulness, and Learning. Now let’s take a quick look at the Resourcing Pillars.
Pillar #4 – Vitality
To be and to feel safe, we must develop a basic sense of aliveness, energy, and can-do capability – in a word, vitality.
So it’s important to address blocks to vitality, such as numbing, negative judgments about your body, or indifference to your health. You can develop more kindness toward your body, as well as release any feelings of helplessness related to it.
This Pillar contains a down-to-earth summary of effective ways to improve your diet, exercise, and sleep. We explore how a person’s lifestyle could harm the body and lower vitality, and how to do (and keep doing!) realistic things to change this.
Vitality also involves a sense of grit, determination, patience, and the capacity to endure and not be overwhelmed by stressful or upsetting experiences. We’ll cover how to develop these strengths, and also how to use the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) in skillful ways to rev up to avoid harms (fostering safety) without tipping into the red zone.
Pillar #5 – Gratitude
Well-being has two components:
- Hedonia – pleasure, delight, happiness at the happiness of others, love, sensuality, accomplishment, joy, cheering on a favorite team, comfort, etc.
- Eudaimonia – fulfillment, sense of meaning or purpose, overall satisfaction in life; for example, getting up at night to walk a crying baby may lack hedonic rewards – your back hurts and you’d rather be asleep – but it feels deeply important, the most fulfilling thing you’ve ever done.
Gratitude and gladness – the sense of receiving and enjoying the gifts, beauties, and pleasures of life – feeds both hedonia and eudaimonia. Unfortunately, many people develop mental blocks throughout life around feeling truly valuable or worthy, minimizing their ability to absorb the good around them and feel grateful.
This program will cover two big areas to increase your capacity for Gratitude, allowing you to take more pleasure from the little things in life:
- Heightening your sensory awareness, which allows you to take greater pleasure through seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, and imagining.
- Recognizing and releasing any inhibitions on experiencing pleasure, gladness, and joy.
The essence of gratitude is developing an increasingly unconditional sense of happiness, less and less dependent on external conditions. Through the Foundations program we’ll put you on the path to getting there!
Pillar #6 – Confidence
We have natural needs to feel seen, understood, recognized, included, and valued. There’s nothing wrong with this! Having these needs fulfilled, particularly during childhood has a variety of positive consequences: secure attachment, resilience, self-regulation, optimism, self-worth, and exploration. The resources that fulfill these needs are sometimes called “healthy narcissistic supplies.”
On the other hand, not meeting our interpersonal needs can lead to insecure attachment, reactivity, poor self-control, pessimism, inadequacy, and withdrawal.
Whether positive or negative, these traits often carry over from childhood to adulthood.
“Confidence” in the deepest sense is an umbrella term referring to a sense of worth in your core – that you are loved and lovable, giving and contributing, valued, and a good person. We grow this sense of true confidence through repeatedly internalizing a sense of worth. This enables us to stretch our wings and fly high, knowing that there’s a goodness and loveableness inside that we can rely upon in times of trouble.
In effect, we grow strong “inner allies” that protect us from our “inner critics.”
In the next article we’ll cover the Pillars related to Regulating – bringing balance, effectiveness, and direction to your thoughts, emotions, bodily states, desires, actions, and relationships.
I hope you’ll consider joining me for the Foundations of Well-Being!