The World Health Organisation defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”. So, psychological wellbeing plays an instrumental role in general health and in an individual’s ability to thrive.

How We Consider Psychological Wellbeing

We use the latest wellbeing research (see research summary below) and research of how psychological wellbeing can be nurtured and embedded in professional work and sport organisations.

Simply, we consider an individual as having psychological wellbeing when they,

Feel competent, autonomous, valued, and that they are contributing to something worthwhile. And feel listened to, supported and part of a community.

Without exception, people find this:

  • Clear and easy to understand.
  • Represents how they want to feel at work and in sport.
  • Matches their life experience.

It’s therefore easy for them to understand how psychological wellbeing promotes their health and performance.

For organisations, it provides a clear basis for support and development that’s non-discriminatory, i.e., acceptable, non-threatening, achievable and effective for all: It’s also rewarding to inspire.

Psychological Wellbeing is Not…

The absence of mental health concerns, ‘fluffy’ happiness, vague and immeasurable, only for ‘the weak’, and the sole responsibility of the individual. Such inaccurate perceptions have led to psychological wellbeing being wrongly dismissed or limited in its power to give health and performance gains.

Research Summary: Defining Psychological Wellbeing

Our practical definition is in keeping with academic consensus and across-nation policy agencies. It sees psychological wellbeing as being the sum of three distinct concepts (e.g., O’Donnell et al., 2014; OECD, 2013):

  • Life evaluation:A reflective assessment of how one’s life is going. This can also be considered in relation to life domains, e.g., work life, competition.
  • Affect:The experience of particular positive and negative feelings or emotional states, typically considered at a specific point in time.
  • Eudaimonia:Experiences that lead to a ‘life well lived’. These are typically gained as we interact with the world and also lead to ‘flourishing’, e.g., holding a sense of meaning and purpose, competence and agency.

This definition of psychological wellbeing; provides real information of how people relate to wellbeing, is measurable with major predictive power, and correlates with objective physiological measures of brain activity.

Practically, and most importantly, it gives us the opportunity to confidently readdress previously limited ideas of health and wellbeing for the benefit of individuals, organisations, and indeed, society.


  • O.Donnell, G., Deaton, A., Durand, M., Halpern, D., and Layard, R. (2014). Wellbeing and policy. Legatum Institute, London, UK.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2013). OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being. OECD Publishing, Paris, France.

We hope this article has been of interest and benefit to your organisation.

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