D. Randall Faro
Well-Being Is Being Well
Updated: May 6, 2020
Well-being is a complex construct that concerns optimal experience and functioning. Research done by the NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology Information) on well-being has been derived from two general perspectives: the hedonic approach, which focuses on happiness and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance; and the eudaimonic approach, which focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning.
In the original Old Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh (about 2100 BC), Siduri gave the following advice: "Fill your belly. Day and night make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night. These things alone are the concern of men." This is regarded as the first recorded advocacy of hedonistic philosophy.
Thirty-seven hundred years later, Shakespeare wrote: “What is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.” The playwright recognized that at the deepest core of humanity is the need for meaning in life. Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankl wrote in his poignant book, Man’s Search for Meaning: “The more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love - the more human he is.”
One can live with a self-serving hedonistic life philosophy or the guiding principle of valuing others and working for a just society that values everyone. History records that hedonism as the guiding principle generally does not lead to a happy life. Consideration of others – the whole community – generally produces a much deeper and meaningful sense of well-being.