By Jesús Martín, Researcher and Wellbeing Ambassador
Health and personal development are both central to overall personal wellbeing. I have previously focused a post on health, and in this post I’ll turn attention towards personal development. In this post I will be broadly adopting Myrko Thum’s definition of personal development, as the conscious pursuit of personal growth through expanding self-awareness and knowledge, and improving personal skills.
This is the final post in a series highlighting the best resources from the ten categories in our Wellbeing Database. Through these posts we have seen that “wellbeing” is a big idea; a multi-faceted concept that provides an integrated approach to life, embracing everything from health and relationships, to the economy and the environment. By engaging with all of the constituent parts of wellbeing, we can enhance our own quality of life, the quality of life in our communities and societies, and our ability to live in a way that respects the environmental limits of the planet.
The following is a list of links to the whole series:
- Links between Wellbeing and the Environment
- Keep learning to Improve your wellbeing
- Food & Wellbeing: Feeding the World Whilst Caring for the Earth
- An Economy that Serves People and Planet
- Community and Wellbeing: Think Globally, Act Locally
- Family Wellbeing: Rooted and Grounded in Love
- Wellbeing at Work: Enabling all Stakeholders to Thrive
- Ethics as a Compass for Wellbeing
- Health is More Than the Absence of Disease
And now, this final post in the series will explore the category wellbeing and personal development.
Films and Videos
Having a ‘big picture’ perspective on wellbeing and personal development is an important place to begin. Firstly, I’d like to recommend two outstanding videos by two big names in the world of wellbeing – Martin Seligman and Nic Marks. Martin Seligman is considered the “father” of Positive Psychology, and in his talk “On Wellbeing and Happiness”, he encourages people to focus on personal strengths instead of weaknesses as a way of increasing our happiness. Another perspective is offered by Nic Marks together with Ragnhild Bang Ness, who speak about a dynamic model of wellbeing; focusing on personal resources and external conditions to achieve good functioning and good feelings.
Everyone has the potential to develop themselves. Plus, it can be important to remember that, “sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine” (as Joan Clarke tells Alan Turing in the movie, The Imitation Game).
In another powerful video on personal development, Scilla Elworthy gives some great insights on fulfilling potential in an interview on, “Pioneering the possible: Awakened leadership for a world that works”. In this interview she talks about four dimensions (self-knowledge, strengths, inner power and courage) that can be important when developing to your full potential.
There are also some great animations out there which offer some interesting tools for our personal development. For example, “Get creative with the 5 ways to wellbeing” by Richmond Fellowship, and “The power of outrospection”, by RSA. These animations explore how tools, like the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and the “empathy concept” can help to enhance personal wellbeing.
Even in the face of challenging circumstances there is often still ways we can make positive changes in our lives and in the lives of others. A reminder of this is offered in an inspiring talk from Sam Berns. Aged 17 and diagnosed with Progenia, Sam does not let life’s challenges overcome him, and instead shares his philosophy for a happy life. “No matter what I choose to become, I believe that I can change the world”, and, “as I’m striving to change the world, I will be happy”, Sam says, in words that can offer inspiration to us all.
Reports and Research
The following list is a selection of reports and research related to personal development and wellbeing. In particular, we’ve highlighted some useful resources relating to the Five ways to wellbeing, which is a very useful approach for personal development and for health.
- Five ways to wellbeing by nef
- Five ways to wellbeing. New applications, new ways of thinking by nef
- Five ways to wellbeing: How do you get the message across by Devon Partnership NHS Trust
- The six dimensions of the Wellness Model by National Wellness Institute
- Learning for wellbeing. The essentials by Universal Education Foundation
- Psychological wellbeing: Evidence regarding its causes and consequences by Government Office for Science
- Doing good? Altruism and wellbeing in an age of austerity by Mental Health Foundation
- Exploring the mind with the aid of personal genome: Citizen science genetics to promote positive we by Takashi Kido and Melanie Swan
- Benefits of happiness by Ed Diener
- Health and human happiness by Soka Gakkai International
Guides and Toolkits
One important aim of learning about personal development is to find ways to put new approaches into practice in our daily life. This section introduces more practical resources, guides and toolkits, to help bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Action for Happiness offers us this interesting guidebook, Great Dream: Ten keys to happier living. For each key it provides an introduction, an inspiring image, a question to ponder, a thought-provoking quote and suggested practical actions, all underpinned by the latest wellbeing research.
If you need a little help with implementing the Five ways to wellbeing, the guide “Five ways to wellbeing: how do you get the message across?” by Devon Partnership NHS Trust, provides ideas for creating a positive impact.
Finally, Frances Moore Lappé from the Small Planet Institute offers some outstanding material from her workshops and seminars. In her resource, “Developing your EcoMind; How to guide”, we are invited to: “Change the way we think to create the world we want.”
As Gandhi famously said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. In contributing more to the world you can gain a deeper sense of personal development and wellbeing. Hopefully the several resources offered here and in our Wellbeing Database can help to spark the next steps for your conscious pursuit of personal growth.
Credits for images used in this post: First image - Credit to the photography muse, second and third images - credit to Jesús Martín