The Being & The Doing EPISODE 2:
A new kind of well-being checklist
Everybody has a checklist of things they “should do” if they want greater well-being. For many of us that long to-do list just leaves us feeling stressed out and guilty, especially when we don’t tick all the boxes. In this episode Laurelshares a fresh way of thinking about well-being that has a completely different kind of checklist.
HIGHLIGHTS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS
- What does well-being mean 1:16
- Greater well-being with 3 fresh ideas 4:20
- 5 key skillsets for well-being 10:45
- Shifting your thinking 14:25
- This episode’s homework 16:53
* A full transcript of the podcast is found below on this page.
Here’s the link to the page for your Being & Doing homework. It includes a little guide with some ideas about making time for both action and awareness. Download it HERE. When you grab it you will also get my weekly tips about living life the mindful way.
Here’s a printer friendly version of the well-being model I described. Put it on your fridge or beside your computer as a reminder of the well-being skills.
The book I mentioned was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Actually any book by him is definitely worth a read.
THIS EPISODE’S HOMEWORK
Something to think about:
What skill, if I mastered it, would lead to greater well-being?
What would be the first step in mastering this skill?
Something to try:
Thinking about the first step you identified, this week look for opportunities to take that step. You are not going to master it, but you can practice it.
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is Good Morning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Transcript of the Show:
Introduction: Welcome to The Being and The Doing. A podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author and life coach, Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey lovely ones, welcome to Episode 2 of The Being and The Doing. Thanks so much for taking the time to tune in. I know that time is a valuable thing and I so appreciate you spending some of yours here with me.
In today’s show, I’m going to share a new kind of well-being checklist, and it’s not what you think. You know, we all know that our personal wellness is really important, but surveys continually show us that people are feeling more stressed and unhappy than ever before. So apparently, the way we’ve been approaching well-being isn’t working. So today I’ve got some fresh ideas that might help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed about the never-ending, to-do list of wellness stuff you [quote-unquote] should be doing. So, let’s dive in and let’s start with, what is well-being?
The general definition of well-being is a state that’s characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.
That sounds good, we’d all like that. The World Health Organization has a bit longer definition and it describes a state of well-being is one in which individuals realize his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
So when I hear that, it kind of makes me a little stressed, it’s a lot that’s in there. And there’s a lot of research about well-being and wellness and the factors that influence our sense of well-being. Everything from having an enjoyable and fulfilling career, having enough money, getting regular exercise, having a good diet, getting enough sleep, having a close and intimate relationship with a partner, having a network of close friends and a sense of belonging and the ability to adapt to change and being safe, physically and also having a sense of purpose and meaning.
Wow, that’s a lot that goes into well-being. And when we start having lists like that, well-being means this and we list out all of these factors, it begins to create the usual kind of well-being checklist. One of those checklists that are things that you should be doing and that checklist is long and it has a lot of tick boxes. Just let me read that again; having an enjoyable and fulfilling career and enough money and exercise and diet and sleep and fulfilling relationship and close friends and a sense of belonging and ability to adapt to change in a safe environment to live in and purpose and meaning.
So doesn’t it sort of feel like well-being just becomes another thing on your to-do list? And we feel guilty, don’t we, when we’re not ticking the boxes on that checklist? Yes, I know I’m supposed to do this and I’m supposed to do this and I’m supposed to do this but life gets away from you or it’s busy and you have competing priorities and demands and I didn’t do that. And now, I feel bad, I feel guilty, I feel discouraged.
So, what would happen if we had a completely different model of well-being? A different way of thinking about well-being that didn’t rely on the standard checklist of things that you should do, in order to have well-being? I want to share three fresh ideas, three different perspectives, to hold on well-being.
The ‘what if we did it this way and see what kind of change that we might make in our approach to our well-being?’ So, number one. Maybe, instead of looking at the minute details of well-being; how much sleep, how much to eat, what goes into a fulfilling relationship, all of those things, maybe instead of looking at the details, we need to step back and have a more holistic approach. Really look at the big picture of things.
Not thinking about well-being as these tasks that we’re taking off the checklist but really well-being is about a lifelong journey. A journey that has, of course, ups and downs and a journey that has challenges and a journey that has fulfillment and fun and happiness and satisfaction. But it’s up and it’s down, it’s not just an ‘oh, check that now, I have well-being’. So that’s number one.
What if a different way of thinking about well-being actually had a little more balance in the ‘well’ and the ‘being’? Isn’t that an interesting word, well-being? There’s a ‘being’ that’s right there, in the name of what we’re talking about. And so if we think about the ‘well’ part of well-being, okay, let’s think of those as the wellness kind of activities. A state of being healthy in mind and body and that comes from deliberate effort, of course.
So yes, on the ‘well’ side of well being, there are healthy habits that we need to cultivate if we want to have a sense of feeling well. But when that’s all that we focus on when we’re in this constant state of ‘doing’, checking off the boxes on the checklist of things to do to be well, we kind of lose that big picture, don’t we? And when we burden ourselves or hold ourselves down with these day-to-day actions that we feel like we have to do, it does really create that sense of being on the hamster wheel. A hamster wheel is one of those metaphors that my clients often mention; they’re just going around and around and around.
Or the other thing they say is that they feel like they’re on autopilot.
So when it’s all about the ‘well’ in well-being, we kind of missed the point. This constant state of activity or doing or focusing on the tasks of wellness actually creates a process that begins to fuel itself; oh, I should do more, I should do more now. I’m doing more now, I feel like I need to do more, without having that result of actually feeling well.
So there is this ‘being’ part of well-being. Well-being and ‘being’ is really about existence. The ‘being’ part of well-being is having that pause from the constant state of ‘doing’ that space for reflection. If you haven’t listened to episode one yet, I really invite you to do that because I talk a lot more about what ‘being’ and ‘doing’ actually means. And how we can have more balance in that and what happens when we have more balance.
So from a well-being perspective, we need to balance the ‘well’, the wellness activities with the ‘being’. It’s getting us back to being a human being. And I know there’s that kind of tired phrase now, oh, we’re ‘human beings’ we’re not ‘human doings’. But sometimes, tired phrases get tired because we’ve said them a lot because they’re actually true.
The third thing, the third fresh way, to possibly look at well-being is that when we’re stressed, and obviously people are because they have a lot to do, have a lot of demands, feel like they don’t have enough time. When we’re stressed, what’s the first thing to go? All the stuff you’re supposed to do in order to be ‘well’.
When it gets crazy, what do you let go of? You let go of eating well, you let go of getting enough sleep, you let go of working out or connecting with your partner, you let go of all of the things that actually will help you feel more ‘well’. So I think the new kind of well-being checklist if we want to call it that, is not about these to ‘dos’, it’s not about the stuff that we’re going to let go of when we get stressed out anyways. It’s more about having skills, skill sets that we can cultivate.
So like, what’s a skill? Well, a skill is just the ability to be able to use what you know effectively, in order to perform better. I read somewhere that a skill was defined as a learned power. I like that, a learned power of being able to do things competently. Wow, that’s cool. So if we took these fresh ideas of having a more holistic picture, a bigger picture, not so mired in the details and the fresh idea of getting some ‘being’ back in this idea of well-being and focusing on skill sets that we’re building rather than things that we need to do that we’re going to let go of anyways when we’re too stressed, I thought we need a different model. I like to call it well-being by design. We’re designing it, we’re designing the skill sets that we need.
And in that model, I think there are five key skill sets that you need to look at. Number one, there’s a skill set around going with the flow. It’s the skill set of being calm. That means being able to go with the flow, no matter what is happening. It’s easy to go with the flow when things are going well. But can we build the skills of being able to go with the flow when things aren’t going well and can we then use that sense of how we are going about doing things to be able to do the things we want to do?
The second set of skill are, the skills of getting stuff done. Because part of our well-being comes from the sense that yes, we actually get stuff done, we’re productive. There’s a whole conversation about maybe what you’re trying to get done. But really there’s a skill set about getting stuff done. And if we can learn the skill set of going with the flow, maybe that actually helps us get stuff done, particularly, when life is not going exactly the way we want it to be going.
So it’s sort of the skills of, what am I doing?
There’s a third set of skills that are around, making a difference. They’re the skills of, why am I here?
Why am I doing what I am doing? We all have this basic need to feel like we make a difference. Whether that’s making a difference in the big global picture or whether that’s just making a difference to our family and to our friends and in the work that we do, all of it is really important. We have to have that sense for ourselves that we actually make a difference. That’s where our satisfaction in life comes from, to feel like I’m making a contribution that’s worthwhile.
Fourth set of skills are the skills about showing up authentically. They’re the skills that help you be who you are with confidence so that you can be yourself. And that’s important from a well-being perspective because then we can be engaged and connected in what we do.
And the fifth set of skills is around pause. I actually think it’s really at the heart of all of these skills, kind of at the heart of this model. The ability to be able to pause the skills that we have that allow us to step back and reflect and ask important questions and perhaps shift how we’re thinking. So imagine if we could do that? Imagine if we could build these skill sets rather than this list of stuff that we have to do? I actually put a little diagram of this model in the show notes.
So if you want to go to the show notes, you can download a little picture of it and get this sense of going with the flow and getting stuff done and making a difference and showing up authentically and being able to take a pause.
So here’s the real difference that I think this approach has. It’s a real shift in thinking. Not ‘here’s my checklist of to-dos’ but ‘here are the skills that I’m building’. And they’re skills that can be applied in many different areas of our life so they cross borders. It’s not ‘oh, on my to-do list is to go for a 30-minute run’. Okay, great, that’s a good thing. But if we focus on the skills of being able to do what we need to do, it will cross over into different areas of our life.
Now here’s the important piece of information Malcolm Gladwell, who’s the author of many great books, but in his book Outliers, he talks about something that has come to be called the 10,000-hour rule. And the 10,000-hour rule says that in order to become world class at anything or to master things, you have to put in 10,000 hours of practice. And that equals if you were going to do the math, to about five years of uninterrupted 40-hour work weeks of practice and maybe longer, maybe it’s more like 10 years.
This is sort of a simplified application of what he’s talking about in his book. But the takeaway from it is, when we focus on skills, what we learn is that it takes a lot of practice to be good at them. It takes a lot of practice to be good at complex tasks. That’s really what Malcolm Gladwell’s talking about. So it’s not about whether you checked off your run or your eight glasses of water or your hours of sleep. It’s more about identifying which skills would be helpful to build and then working on.
And skills, of course, are made of habits. And if we remember the 10,000-hour rule, you’re not going to master them quickly. And so that’s okay. So it gives you a lot of space. It gives you that holistic picture of ‘life is a journey and I am learning the skills to be able to have a greater sense of well-being on my journey’.
So for now, let me leave you with a little ‘being’ and ‘doing’ homework, something to think about and something to try.
So you can grab a pen and write it down. In the show notes, you’ll find a little action and awareness guide that has a note-taking sheet as part of it that you might find helpful for this homework. And you can use that sheet or you can use a journal and anything that we want to write it down. But it’s important to write stuff down because when we write it down, it makes it real.
So here goes, something to think about. What skill if I mastered it, would lead to greater well-being? And part 2, homework. What would be the first step in mastering that skill? This is something to think about and now, something to try. Once you’ve thought about that first step that you’ve identified this week, look for opportunities to take that step. You’re not going to master it, but you can practice it. So, a fresh way of looking at well-being, a different kind of checklist, a checklist of skill sets rather than just tasks that need to be done.
Feel free to leave comments or questions on the show notes page or in iTunes. I really do want to hear your thoughts. Next time, I’ll share some ideas about what I think is the essential habit of well-being. It can actually be a game changer in your life. Until then lovely ones, pause, breathe, and enjoy your day.