Understanding ‘Wellbeing’ through the WHO Definition

Understanding ‘Wellbeing’ through the WHO Definition

Do you ever wonder what it really means to be well? What is that feeling of contentment and ease? Well, it’s more than just feeling happy or healthy. It’s about your overall ‘wellbeing’. But what exactly does the term ‘wellbeing‘ mean? Let’s try to answer that question, using the WHO definition.

The Basics of Wellbeing

Dipping our toes into the vast ocean of wellbeing, we begin with its very foundation. What does it mean to truly be ‘well’? It’s not just about feeling cheerful or avoiding illness. At its core, wellbeing encapsulates our physical, emotional, and social harmony. It’s the delicate equilibrium that lets us wake up with zest, face challenges with resilience, and interact with the world around us meaningfully.

The WHO Definition

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity1“. So, in essence, wellbeing is not just about being disease-free; it’s about feeling wholesome, in every sense of the word. Think of it like a tricycle. Each wheel represents physical, mental, and social aspects. Can the tricycle move with just one wheel? Not really!

Why Wellbeing Matters

At the heart of our daily pursuits, wellbeing stands tall as a beacon of purpose. Ever wondered why some days feel magical, while others seem lackluster? Wellbeing is often the unseen force behind this magic. It fuels our passion, drives our focus, and reinforces our bonds with others. More than just a personal sentiment, wellbeing ripples out, influencing our communities and shaping our societal fabric. It’s akin to the sun, vital and omnipresent, often taken for granted but deeply affecting every living thing it touches. Recognizing its importance is the first step towards a life of depth, meaning, and true satisfaction.

wellbeing who definition

More Than Just Physical Health

When we think of health, the immediate image that often pops into our mind is a fit, athletic body. But is that the complete picture? Far from it. While our physical condition plays an undeniable role in our overall health, wellbeing delves deeper, encompassing the realms of our mental, emotional, and even spiritual states. Imagine a beautiful garden; the flowers represent our physical health. But what about the soil, the water, and the sunlight? These are essential elements, often invisible, ensuring the flowers bloom. Similarly, our mental and emotional states act as that soil and water.

Mental and Social Aspects

In the intricate tapestry of our wellbeing, the threads of mental and social aspects weave patterns just as crucial as our physical health. Our mind, with its thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, shapes the lens through which we view the world. A resilient mind can weather storms, turning challenges into stepping stones. But alongside mental fortitude, the social ties we nurture play a pivotal role too. Humans, by nature, are communal creatures. The bonds we form, the friendships we cherish, and the communities we build all feed into our sense of belonging and purpose. Just as a tree thrives with both deep roots (mental well-being) and ample sunlight (social connections), our overall wellbeing blossoms when both these aspects are nurtured.


Factors Affecting Wellbeing and Global Recognition and Initiatives

From our diet and sleep patterns to our work environment and personal relationships, various elements influence our wellbeing.
Though subjective, several tools and indexes aim to measure wellbeing. So, while it may seem abstract, it has quantifiable aspects too.
Governments and organizations worldwide are recognizing the importance of wellbeing. They’re devising strategies and policies to enhance public wellbeing, showing it’s not just an individual concern.

Ways to Enhance Wellbeing

The quest for optimum well-being takes many forms. For some, improving wellbeing may mean spending time exercising, feeling the heartbeat quicken and the muscles stretch. For others, it means immersing themselves in the world of meditation, finding calm in a chaotic world. Then there’s the magic of human relationships, the sharing of laughter, stories and experiences, which can boost morale immeasurably. Reading a good book, engaging in creative activities or simply taking the time to breathe and appreciate nature are all stages of this enriching journey. There is no single solution; the quest for well-being is personal, and it’s up to you to create the recipe. Find what makes you tick! Test it, try it!

What is wellbeing – Multi Comfort UK


  • What is the official ‘wellbeing who definition’?
    The WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
  • Is wellbeing only about being happy?
    No, it’s a combination of physical, mental, and social well-being, encompassing overall contentment, health, and the quality of your relationships.
  • Can you measure wellbeing?
    While wellbeing is subjective, several tools and indexes aim to gauge its different aspects.
  • How can I enhance my wellbeing?
    There are numerous ways, including practicing mindfulness, maintaining physical health, fostering good relationships, and indulging in hobbies.
  • Why is global recognition of wellbeing crucial?
    As wellbeing impacts societal productivity and happiness, global initiatives ensure a more comprehensive approach to improving public health and quality of life.


  1. Health and Well-Being (who.int) ↩︎
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