The Well-Being Journal

Quantifying Well-Being: A Big Idea for 2016

Cameron Bowman

In his contribution to LinkedIn’s #BigIdeas2016 series, Deepak Chopra, world renowned author and speaker, shared his view on the increased importance of well-being transparency and assessment as we move further into an age where health can be quantified and bolstered by technology.

For some, well-being may be an ambiguous concept that holds little importance to the material world. However, through research conducted by Gallup and Healthways, well-being is no longer a misunderstood idea nor an intangible notion - it can be definitively measured and interpreted.

Since 2008, Gallup and Healthways have partnered to understand the well-being of both individuals and populations. Together, we measure and study well-being so we can act efficiently and effectively to improve it. We have made it easier for business leaders and government officials to make informed decisions by helping them understand and quantify well-being through two key initiatives.

The first, a scientific survey instrument and reporting experience called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being 5™, is used to give each participant a “single number that informs you of your total state of wellbeing,” as Dr. Chopra says of the ideal quantification, “evaluating not just the body's vital signs but the mind-body connection as well.” It measures the five interrelated elements that research has shown to have the greatest impact on an individual’s well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Insights gained through this assessment help individuals take the first steps on their journey to living better.

Our second initiative, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, takes the concept of quantifying well-being at an individual level and expands it to include communities, states and nations. The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index uses self-reported data from individuals across the planet to create a unique view of global states of mind and societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being. Globally, higher well-being has been associated with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience — for example, healthcare utilization, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, lowered daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism, and willingness to help others. Understanding these relationships allows world leaders insight into their populations that might not be otherwise transparent.

In his post, Dr. Chopra states “in short, wellness is about to become much more transparent as technology quantifies all the factors that contribute to wellbeing.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Topics: Well-Being Index Gallup

New Study Links Purpose to Lower Risk of Death & Disease

Cameron Bowman

Do you have a firm sense of purpose for your life? If not, you aren’t alone. Based on data measured by the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, only 18% of the world’s population has a thriving sense of purpose, which includes liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals. Direction and purpose can help you lead a fulfilled existence but new research also suggests that a sense of purpose can have a positive impact on your long-term health.

According to a new report published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society, those with a higher sense of purpose in life are at lower risk of death and cardiovascular disease. The report analyzed and aggregated data from ten peer-reviewed studies to find association between a measurement of purpose in life and mortality and/or cardiovascular episodes. The analysis found a substantive correlation between a higher sense of life purpose and a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, even when adjusted for additional factors. It also found that a high sense of purpose resulted in a significantly lower overall risk of death.

For our national population and economy, this information is especially relevant. Those with a firm sense of purpose in their lives tend to be highly engaged in their work. They are invested in what they do and focus on maximizing the value of their efforts. When people are unable to find fulfillment or achieve personal success and well-being with respect to their purpose, it can impact areas beyond the individual, including society as a whole.

Notably, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks the United States only 22nd in the world in terms of purpose well-being. Addressing the profound lack of purpose not only within the workplace but in our communities is of strategic concern for government leaders, health plans and providers, employers, and educators.

To see what communities nationwide are doing to promote purpose and greater well-being, click here.

To learn more about how you can create a culture of purpose and well-being within your organization, click here.

Topics: Purpose Well-Being