Subjective Well-Being

Living Your Own Good Life

Subjective Well-Being - Living Your Own Good Life

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How do you define happiness?

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and hell of heaven. – John Milton, English poet

We all want to be happy in our lives, and we all want to experience "well-being."

However, people often disagree about what well-being involves. Some say that you need to live an honest, positive life. Others believe that you achieve it by doing rewarding, challenging, or enjoyable work. Still others equate it with living according to your core values, while also focusing on your spiritual and emotional development.

The point is that well-being is subjective – we all have different ideas about what it means to live a fulfilling life. There is no one "correct" path to achieving a state of well-being. (Although there may be many incorrect paths!)

In this article, we'll examine the concept of "subjective well-being." We'll discuss what it means, why it's important, and how you can use the ideas behind it to experience well-being in your own life.

About Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being describes how you, as an individual, think about your own state of happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

This state of well-being goes far deeper than merely being happy – it encompasses your health, career, emotional and spiritual development, family life, relationships with friends, income, and more.

Noted researcher, Dr. Ed Diener, says that there are three major things that contribute to subjective well-being. These are:

  1. Lacking negative emotions and moods.
  2. Having pleasant emotions and moods.
  3. Experiencing satisfaction – this can be from things such as your car or home, through to your relationships, or even to your life as a whole. (Diener calls these "satisfaction judgments.")

Diener says that other factors, such as optimism and feelings of fulfillment, can also affect how you feel about your life.

He says that the importance you place on all of these elements is likely to change over the course of your life. For instance, younger people often say that family, income, and employment are important components in their well-being, while older people are more likely to rate health, freedom, and leisure as things that are most important to them.

There's no single key for achieving high subjective well-being because it's... subjective. Rather, you should view it as a something that involves many different ingredients, which change as you go through life.

How to Have High Subjective Well-Being

You can increase your likelihood of having high subjective well-being by doing the following things:

Define Your Core Values

When you live in accordance with your personal ideals, you feel good about yourself. You can rest easy at the end of each day, because you know you didn't compromise on the things that you know are right.

So, take time to discover your values. Then, make an effort to live each day according to these values.

Create Job Satisfaction

All of us have a different idea of what it takes to make us happy. One person might define happiness as having a secure job earning a lot of money. Others might be more satisfied in a role that allows them to telecommute and work flexible hours, even if they earn less.

Because you spend so much time at work, it's important to have job satisfaction, however you define it. Do you want work that's challenging? Do you want more variety?

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Take time to identify what gives you the most pleasure in your work, and think about what you could do to bring more enjoyment to what you do. You can then use job crafting techniques to bring these things to your job.

Work With Purpose

Similarly, many people think that it's important that their work helps other people.

It's obvious how some jobs make a positive difference to other people. Where this is less obvious, however, you can find meaning by helping someone else, in some way, every day.

This doesn't have to be a big thing: you could lend a listening ear to a co-worker who's having a bad time, or help a colleague who's behind on work. These may be small acts, but they can make a big difference to someone else's life. They will also have a powerful effect on your own sense of well-being.

Live a Healthy Life

Your health is another important contributor to subjective well-being. People who are physically healthy have more energy during the day; they're also happier, and better able to deal with stress and other challenges.

Find ways to fit exercise into your schedule. Get plenty of sleep, and stay hydrated during the day by drinking plenty of water. Also, do whatever you can to lower your stress levels.

Build Positive Relationships

Having close, trusting relationships is a factor in high subjective well-being that transcends age, gender, and culture.

Make sure that you're spending enough time developing good relationships. This might include leaving work at a set time one evening a week to spend time with your family, or resolving to keep in touch with old friends.

It also needs to include building good work relationships. You can do this by showing your appreciation for others, by working on your emotional intelligence, and by spending quality time with colleagues and clients.

Think Positively

Your attitude plays a major role in how you feel about your life.

For instance, one person might routinely engage in self-sabotage. To her, nothing is ever good enough, and she always starts a task believing that she's going to fail.

Another person might be the exact opposite. She believes in the work she does, and she's always striving to do better. She takes action on her dreams, and she's not afraid of challenges, because she sees them as opportunities to grow and learn.

Which of these two people do you think is more satisfied with her life?

Our thoughts have a major impact on our life: they influence the choices we make and the actions we take (or don't take). This is why it's so important to develop the habit of positive thinking.


The idea of subjective well-being contrasts with an approach such as that of the PERMA Model, which takes a more structured approach to bringing well-being and happiness to your life. Explore both of these approaches, and choose the one that makes sense to you.

Key Points

"Subjective well-being" is a term that refers to the way that you think about your own state of happiness and fulfillment.

People who experience a high level of subjective well-being in their life are happier, more creative, and more productive. They have better relationships, and they're often healthier and more successful than people who aren't satisfied with their life.

You can achieve high subjective well-being in your life by concentrating on the following areas:

  • Defining your core values.
  • Creating job satisfaction.
  • Working with purpose.
  • Living a healthy life.
  • Establishing positive relationships.
  • Thinking positively.

Remember, everyone defines happiness and well-being differently. It's important to use your own judgment and pursue the areas that are most meaningful for you.