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What is Well-being? By Kate Laffan

Updated: May 1

You know that amazing feeling of happiness you get sometimes? Like winning the lottery or finally nailing that tricky recipe? Yeah, that. But it feels like it disappears as fast as it comes, right? What if we stopped chasing that fleeting happiness and focused on something bigger? In her TED talk, Kate Laffan talks about this idea called well-being. It's not just about happy moments; it's about the whole picture – your body, mind, friends, and family, what gives your life meaning, and even how you connect with the world around you. Think of it like a gorgeous tapestry. So, ditch the happiness chase and focus on building your well-being tapestry. It's a journey, not a destination, and much more fulfilling.

We recently came across a thought-provoking TED talk by Dr Kate Laffan, a leading expert in behavioral science. In her talk, "What is Well-being?" Dr Laffan challenges our traditional views of well-being and proposes a more holistic approach.

We often equate well-being with happiness, chasing fleeting moments of joy. However, Dr. Laffan argues that this focus on happiness can be limiting. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy when life inevitably throws curveballs.

For this, Dr. Laffan proposed three different perspectives on well-being which goes as follows, the first is the needs-based approach, which emphasizes fulfilling basic needs like food, shelter, and security. Then, we have a preference-based approach, which focuses on pursuing activities and experiences that bring us satisfaction and fulfilment. The final one is a feeling-based approach, which emphasizes experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and purpose.

While these approaches offer valuable insights, Dr. Laffan suggests that true well-being embraces all three perspectives. We can strive to meet our basic needs, pursue activities we enjoy, and cultivate positive emotions – it's not an "either/or" situation, but a powerful "and."

Kate Laffan in Tedx talk

She sparked some serious reflection for us. It challenged us to move beyond the one-dimensional pursuit of happiness and consider the multifaceted nature of well-being. Here are some questions to ponder: What are your core needs? Are they being met sustainably? How can you cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning?

Laffan challenges us to move beyond simplistic measures of success like income or status and consider the true ingredients of a fulfilling life. By nurturing all aspects of our well-being, we cultivate resilience, find meaning, and navigate life's inevitable ups and downs more easily. So, ditch the one-dimensional pursuit of happiness and embrace the multifaceted world of well-being. It's a journey worth taking!

Well-being isn't a one-size-fits-all formula. It's a personal journey of exploration and discovery. By embracing Dr. Laffan's holistic approach, we can create a life that nourishes our needs, fuels our passions, and fosters positive emotions.


Surabhi Jalan

Batch 2023-2025


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