The difficulty ∞
I've seen many definitions of this, or peripheral, ideas. Some people say happiness. Some people link it to health or even spirituality. Still others would consider it contentedness or preparedness. I could see arguments for financial stability, a stable family, a good career.
These and many other ideas could be considered to be covered under the umbrella of the well-being concept. Well-being is so difficult to define because it captures many ideas. Ability, stability, assurance, value, purpose and success could be argued as being parts of well-being.
However many ideas could go into the definition of well-being, the one argument which stands out is that no one idea defines well-being.
Individual opinions ∞
The more one tries to define the idea of well-being, the more one can realise that opinion is a strong factor in accepting any definition. Really, the definition of a complex concept is concluded when one accepts some answer.
Working from the viewpoint that one has an answer within ones self, no matter how difficult it is to convey to another, one could then hear other ideas and both compare and contrast ideas to ones own framework. New ideas are rejected, accepted or somehow modified to fit ones current idea. One keeps an open mind to continue this process later. There is never an absolute answer. There is no concept of "correct" and "incorrect". There is only ones current opinion. Well-being is defined within ones self.
A useful definition ∞
But it is not useful to others for one to believe something and not be able to convey it. Without some agreement on what well-being is, those in a position of decision would simply wield their own opinion. The opinion could differ wildly from person to person. The treatment of others could also differ wildly.
An agreed-upon definition of well-being is important to argue in order to allow generally fair-treatment of others. Even if that agreement is not true to particular individuals, it is important to agree so that real work can get done instead of wasting time arguing over individual opinions.
This is much of the idea behind law-making. Of course, then the issue becomes the adequate re-evaluation of the common definition of well-being, and the managing of individual opinions of decision-makers who are to be guided by that common definition. Still, a common definition is a useful definition.
Dynamic beliefs ∞
You believe something today. You learned it or formed the opinion yesterday. Therefore your beliefs are not stable. Therefore your understanding is subject to change.
The argument against this is that one is some sort of "blank slate" early in life and that one realises truths of life. This is, however, a deception, and qualities like bigotry come from the view that ones opinion is not subject to change. More to the point, it is exceedingly arrogant and wholly wrong to believe that ones opinion is Right and True.
It doesn't matter where an opinion "comes from", any opinion is subject to change.
Testing opinions ∞
It is normal to fear the unknown, unexpected and dangerous. It is sensible to want to reduce ones risks. It is good thinking to plan ahead to reduce suffering later. But the fact is that nomatter what we do and nomatter what we become, we will never be able to, as individuals, micro-manage all the factors that do, or could, contribute to our fears.
People are afraid of being wrong. They are afraid of wasting some part of themselves with opinions on something that is unTrue. They are afraid of explanation and argument because it tests their beliefs in themselves and their world.
The problem is that one cannot use ones opinion without pushing it forth into the world. Once an opinion is pushed out, it is subject to real-world tests. If one holds the opinion that the sky is some colour, it's a simple matter to step outside and look. An occasional glance will reassure a new opinion each time. The history of glances will reinforce a more assured opinion.
Experience and opinions ∞
It is without value to hold an opinion on something with any real strength when that something is outside of ones experience. No, one does not have some investment of Eternal Truth within ones self with which to wield an opinion in all circumstances.
One can only ever have a valid opinion when one has experience with the subject or secondarily when the subject could directly influence ones life.
The exception is when one has an empathic understanding of the people who would be influenced, then one could argue weakly from that perspective.
Defining "well-being" for ones self ∞
So, if well-being is a vague idea, and ideas are individual, and useful opinions are shared, and opinions are subject to change and testing, and opinions are validated by experience, then the definition of "well-being" is when one pauses on, but does not settle with, a self-generated opinion based on ones own experiences which one can discuss, test and modify at any and every opportunity.
To help my gentle reader gain an opinion on, or test and modify, their own opinion on this topic, I will present the opinions I do or have held myself, or that I have found elsewhere.
Just as well-being is not any single idea, it is not a single experience and story. It is not merely one of health or happiness but it is a combination of many things without diminishing any single thing. Well-being is a delicately held opinion, where even the delicate holding is a part of what well-being is.