Your Moment Is
Pay attention to the present moment without judgement
The Integrated Wellbeing Model (IWM) provides a systematic approach to achieving happiness and wellbing for yourself and others around you. Wellbeing is not just about being happy but about catering to your innate needs at multiple levels. Wellbeing becomes complete when you satisfy the needs at all five levels of yourself.
This first level is related to the space and environment that we live in and also to our physical bodies.
Let us start with your environment. Does the space that you live in enhance your wellbeing? How are the living areas, bedrooms and garden designed to cater to your needs? Where does your family gather to spend time together and how is that space designed? We know, for example, that plants in the home can positively impact the occupants’ mood, while water features create a calming effect.
Apart from the home environment, think of the times when you go on a holiday, for a change of scene. How often do you go on vacation? We know that even a short vacation can have a positive impact on your wellbeing for a couple of weeks.
Yes, it is not a long-term solution, but it does have a positive impact.
Now, let us shift our focus to the body. How do you feel about your body image? How do you care for your body? How is your family, friends and you supporting each other in your self-care? How do the colours of your home and your clothes impact your wellbeing? For example, if we wanted to feel cheerful, we could wear yellow on that day and it would also catch people’s attention. Of course, you may prefer wearing black as it might make you feel more confident and that too is fine.
The space and environment that we live in do have an impact on our wellbeing and so does our relationship with our body.
At the second level, we can explore via two components: physical activity and physiological health. Do you spend time in energising and physically nourishing activities? How frequently does this happen? What about managing the level of energy throughout the day? What type of exercises do you engage in? Research shows that individuals who exercise have better wellbeing.
Moving on to the physiological aspect, how is your health? Do you eat nourishing food and drinks? What diet choices do you have? What do you do to relax? How about sleep patterns and quality of sleep?
Our physical body has a positive impact on our overall wellbeing. And some of our unwholesome habits such as not caring for our body or not sleeping enough (optimally 7.5–9 hours) can sometimes stand in the way of achieving wellbeing at this level.
Which emotions are frequently experienced by you? Happiness, enthusiasm and contentment? Or sadness, dissatisfaction and anger? Which activities in your daily living bring positive emotional experiences? What support do you need for emotional regulation? How capable are you in recognising other’s emotions and responding appropriately? What about being in touch with your emotions? What are some acceptable ways to express emotion within a culture? These questions help you to understand your emotional climate and whether they are transient or perpetual.
This is related to your ability to achieve your life goals with competence. It refers to a cluster of competencies and domains such as skills, knowledge, values, strengths, control, decision-making, spirituality, personality and relationships, amongst others.
This is a key component of wellbeing. Reflect on each of these competencies/domains and ask yourself some important questions. What are some skills training I need? What do I need to learn, unlearn and relearn? What are some relationships that I should be investing more in? What are some strengths that I can tap on daily? What else?
Here we focus on purpose and meaning. While the purpose of life for many people is happiness, meaning is what we create for ourselves to achieve that purpose. We have a choice to create meaning in our lives by choosing to engage in the activities that bring the most happiness and wholesomeness to ourselves and others.
Your life can become meaningful too if it isn’t already. But do you know what creates meaning for you? Start by noticing your inclinations and nurturing them with non-judgemental inquiry.
For example, you may notice that you have strong feelings towards protecting young children or animals or the environment. You might then consider volunteering at a children or animal shelter or joining a climate change initiative. Would you feel happier and connected taking part in these activities? Do you feel excited by these involvements?
Another dimension of meaning is how we help each other create more meaning in our lives. It is good to have conversations with your family members and friends about what makes their life meaningful and help them achieve it in ways that are possible for them. We know that people who live their lives with a clear sense of purpose and meaning have better wellbeing.
A good way to understand that which is unwholesome is by looking at the opposite of what the five Selves represent. Imagine a life where your
⦁ Home is unkempt, disorganised, unhygienic, cluttered.
⦁ Clothes are dirty, unwashed, smelly.
⦁ Lifestyle is sedentary, with hours spent in front of the TV.
⦁ Emotional climate is constantly sad, worrying, frightening or anxious.
⦁ Skills are limited and you are unable to cope with life’s demands.
⦁ Relationships lack effective communication and lack connection. Everyone does their own thing.
⦁ Life has no meaning. No one knows why they’re doing what they’re doing. Every day is devoid of excitement.
Perhaps now you can see how the IWM is a very powerful, comprehensive and systematic approach to working towards achieving wellbeing for you and perhaps those around you. With this model in mind, we can intentionally enhance our wellbeing.
Adapted from Mindfulness for the Family by Kathirasan K and Sunita Rai (2020).