As our current Kindergartens are filled with pint sized packages of hope and curiosity, the generation unofficially dubbed as “Generation Alpha” – the term wellbeing, along with the family IPad has become common place.  When we first moved from Brisbane to Hobart and people inquired as to what I did for work and I replied “I’m a coach”, their first response was what team?  Now, a decade later, it seems that every second person is a “coach” and there are many wellbeing “experts” on hand to service our every desire.  We are currently amidst what some might call a “wellbeing boom” which is satirically summarised by the likes of Judith Lucy who covers off on all manner of topics relating to specialty water bottles to the ever increasing topic of Corporate Wellness.

While I enjoy a good laugh with Judith as much as anyone I do take a weighted approach to wellbeing and while it may seem a bit “hard core” I see it as a human right.  I view this era as being as important as the transition that took place during the industrial revolution.  We either get this wellbeing stuff under our belts and progress forward as a successful modern society or we don’t and suffer the financial, social and ethical consequences.  However, if it was that straight forward I’m sure we would be further ahead of the curve than where we currently reside.

Part of the challenge around wellbeing at the moment is that the term itself can be slippery to pin down as it is dynamic and contextual.   For example what the term wellbeing means to a healthy affluent person living a comfortable western life of privilege will differ from a person living outside those circumstances, many of whom may not even have examples of or words to express wellbeing. In a nutshell, wellbeing can mean very different things to different people, therefore if we are going to put in place wellbeing policy or even have a conversation with our neighbour about wellbeing then we need to be mindful of our biases and ensure that there is some form of common language between us.  Professor Lindsay Oades coins the term “wellbeing literacy” and suggests it is the missing link in Positive Education.  His preliminary definition of wellbeing literacy is “the vocabulary, knowledge and skills that my be intentionally used to maintain or improve the wellbeing of oneself or others” (Oades et al. 2017).  If you feel like diving down into the rabbit hole of wellbeing definition space you may like to read “The challenge of defining wellbeing” (Dodge, Daly, Huyton, & Sanders, 2012).  However before you do let us know, what does the term wellbeing or wellbeing literacy mean to you?

Dodge, R., Daly, A., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L. (2012). The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(3), 222-235. doi:10.5502/ijw.v2i3.4

Oades, L. G., Slade, M., & Jarden, A. (2017). Wellbeing and recovery: A possible future. In M. Slade, L. G. Oades, & A. Jarden (Eds.), Wellbeing, recovery and mental health (pp. 324–332). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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