By Brigida Walkin

We all in some way strive for well-being in our lives—from the food we eat, to the gyms we frequent, the hobbies we take on, and even the content we chose to watch. Among the various areas of well-being in our lives, psychological well-being is arguably the most important. This is simply because what the mind thinks and believes, the body and personal choices follow. So what does psychology say are the most fundamental ways to gain and maintain psychological well-being throughout our lives? Here are the 6 pathways we take to gain and sustain psychological well-being.

Environmental Mastery Multiple studies of well-being state that one of the most important pathways we take to gain psychological well-being is through the mastery of our environment. This means that we become aware of the various situations life puts us in and can identify the environments that give us strength and match our needs and values. With this same knowledge, we can also avoid environments that are not beneficial to us. Have you ever had a moment when you were in a situation or place where you thought, “Why am I here? Do I even like this? I don’t even care about this thing.” Chances are, that environment is not one that matches with your needs, values, and it may not necessarily help you to grow. Identify your needs, what you stand for, and the environments that come with that.

Our purpose in life Whether it is that we want to be a lawyer, a pharmacist, an artist and or a farmer, our purpose in life drives what we do and how we do it. When we feel that there is some form of direction in our lives, we accept the good and the bad we experienced in the past and experience in the present. We accept these experiences because we feel that our experiences prepare us for the role and purpose we have chosen for our lives. Recent studies have placed high importance on purpose-driven choices in life and postulates that the more actualized we are in what we want to do, the more acceptance we have of life and the various experiences we will have in it.

Independence Independence, also referred to as autonomy, is when we can make decisions irrespective of other’s opinions and thoughts on our choices. This is not to say that we shy away from asking help of others; no man is an island on their own. However, what research reveals is that when we achieve the balance between engaging and encouraging social support from friends, family, and spouses alike, we must counter this with a developed ability to make decisions for ourselves in life, if we want to gain psychological well-being and fulfillment. This is true for simple decisions such as eating a healthier diet or even the type of gas placed in the car. Independent thinking is another significant pathway to gaining and sustaining psychological well-being.

Caring relationships We are relational beings, and with that comes opportunity and need for us to form relationships that are real, long, and meaningful. Though relational in nature, we may struggle at times to form connections with others or to utilize true forms of love, caring, and empathy when interacting with people we may not be too fond of. Regardless, when we are able to create meaningful, empathetic relationships with others, our psychological well-being increases significantly not to mention our level of satisfaction in life. No matter how good or bad a day has gone, we can all appreciate a loved one being there to listen and hug on us; this includes our furry friends as well.

Personal growth For the sake of this discussion, personal growth is more the internal and personal view that we have of ourselves, that we are continuously growing. It is the realization that we are imperfect human beings that are going to mess up, get it wrong sometimes, and outright rebel against things that are initially good for us. As that may be true, when we refocus on this truth that we are continuously experiencing things and growing through them, we are able to have a better understanding of psychological well-being. So the moral of this story; you are constantly growing through life. Do not be so hard on yourself and do the best that you can.

Self-acceptance Self-acceptance and personal growth are quite similar to each in the fact that they require self-awareness and self-compassion on the journey to gaining and sustaining psychological well-being. Multiple Studies done on the importance of character, further mention that regardless of the good and the bad we all go through, having a positive outlook on the experience promotes psychological well-being.

Psychological well- being is a more technical term for what we all naturally strive for; happiness and satisfaction in life. And though many of us have different things in our lives that inspire this drive in us one thing remains inherently true, the road to happiness is a personal one, filled with turns, dips, and different routes along the way. No one’s journey is comparable to the other. These 6 pathways at their core, outline and exemplify how much internal work we do to live life the best way that we can and encourage us to keep going despite the setbacks. Let it be more of an encouragement that when we take the time to invest in what truly matters in life, psychological well-being and happiness are sure to follow.