Finding wellbeing more than just a personal quest

Wellbeing and how to achieve it was the topic of discussion at a recent Leadership Network hui held in Auckland. Network member Dr Angela Lim, who spoke at the event, reflects on what was discussed and takes a look at what wellbeing means to her. Angela is CEO and co-founder of online mental health and wellbeing platform Clearhead.
A group shot of the hui participants

Leadership Network members gathered in Auckland for the Wellbeing Hui

Wellbeing; we all want it, we all talk about how important it is, and yet for most of us it could not be more elusive.

Over the weekend, I was part of an expert panel who spoke at the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Wellbeing Hui. The hui sparked dialogue between 50 young leaders interested in the application of wellbeing in our personal lives, workplaces and universities, and at a systemic level examine how wellbeing relates to global citizens and flourishing ecosystems.

At the hui, there was a real yearning in the room for something different – a desire to explore alternative systems of knowledge and ancient wisdom of other cultures.

As CEO of Clearhead, an online mental health and wellbeing platform that provides employee wellbeing support to workplaces, I have been thinking quite a bit about what wellbeing means.

I like to define wellbeing at an individual level as the regular practice of habits that help us cope with the ups and downs of life.

When it all gets too overwhelming, do we know how to engage in deep breathing and meditation exercises to calm ourselves down enough so that we can still make good decisions.

Are we able to switch into healthier and more positive mindsets that allow us to rewrite the narrative and find meaning during tough times?

Are we able to draw on our connections around us for support and advice to get through the challenges that life throws at us?

However, while as an individual it is important to learn the skills and knowledge to better understand our own mental wellbeing, we often find ourselves in situations where the causes of our psychological distress are largely outside of our control.

So, what role do workplaces and the government play in addressing the root causes of poor wellbeing? Issues include the ability to earn a living wage, the impact of climate change, the absence of good leaders that provide psychologically safe environments so that we are able to do what is best for both the organisations we are part of as well as ourselves.

The group skipping with skipping ropes

Network members did a spot of skipping as part of an energiser activity

Ultimately,  we should feel empowered that we have what it takes to be influential in our respective organisations. We need to demand a culture change in how we treat each other, but also challenge the role organisations play in fostering collective wellbeing in our society. 

I urge Leadership Network members to start by asking the question of why things are the way they are at your organisation and to address the elephant in the room.