How Is Your Well Being?

I have written previously about how important I think it is for me to look after myself so I am then better equipped to look after my family. My well being is an important factor in the smooth running and general happiness of the home.

But can you measure well being? Australian Unity in conjunction with Deakin University since 2001 have been publishing the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index.

The index defines wellbeing as being different to happiness:

“Happiness can come and go in a moment, whereas wellbeing is a more stable state of being well, feeling satisfied and contented.

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index is based on average levels of satisfaction with various aspects of personal and national life. Satisfaction is expressed as a percentage score, where 0% is completely dissatisfied and 100% is completely satisfied. So a survey score of 76.5% on personal wellbeing means Australians, on average, feel 76.5% satisfied with their life.”

I like the idea that in the current economic rationalist focus, that there is an index that looks at quality of life in social terms other than pure economic indicators like Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Measures of how ‘well’ we are doing as a nation have conventionally been based on economic considerations such as Gross Domestic Product, employment rates and housing prices. However, in an era when Australians are richer than ever, more than one million adults and 100,000 young people are experiencing depression every year. The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index investigates additional factors impacting on our lives, filling the void not covered by economic considerations and producing a complete view of Australians’ wellbeing.”

The collated information outputs a National Wellbeing Index for Australia and in the most current survey (Oct 2007) saw the index at its highest level yet recorded at 63.72. I will be keen to see how the Wellbeing Index moves in the next survey in light of the ever growing economic uncertainty.

From a mother’s perspective (and a nerdy love of stats perspective) there were a few areas of the Index that stood out to me:

Females have a higher sense of valuation and contributions than males. This may be due to the fact that females are more socially embedded.

People who live with children have a higher sense that their life contributes to the wellbeing of others.

Female wellbeing does not significantly differ between full-time employed and full-time home care.

Females experience the intensity of both happy and sad events more strongly than males. This represents a pattern of enhanced emotional responsiveness for females.

The last point makes me laugh – it has always been that way in my house and now I know that at least this is the norm.

If you go to the Australian Unity website you can click on the banner there and assess your own well being.