May 11 will be Day Zero for 4 million residents of Cape Town, South Africa. After 3 years of prolonged drought, the reservoirs supplying Cape Town have dried up. Efforts to encourage conservation have largely gone unheeded. On May 11, Cape Town will close the valve for residential water customers. Plans have been drafted to drill into groundwater supplies. Plans have been drafted to desalinate sea water.
But “plans have been drafted” should not be confused with “effective action has been taken,” or “the need has been met.” Without significant rainfall to end the drought and begin renewing the water supply, it’s not hard to predict the enormous challenges ahead for the citizens Cape Town.
The wellbeing of Cape Town requires both adequate rainfall and responsible action on the part of the residents. Both are required to get through this crisis. But, only one of these factors is under anyone’s direct control.
Responsible action is required.
Wellbeing, whether on the large scale of a major city, or in our personal lives requires both adequate resources and responsible action.
Personal wellbeing – also called “wellness” – is not one thing alone. It’s composed of a number of interrelated dimensions, with each dimension having influence (positive) or impact (negative) on all the others.
SAMHSA – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – has identified eight dimensions of wellness – health – that are regarded as essential to wellbeing.
There are some aspects of these dimensions that will not always be entirely under our control. However, much more than we realize, we are capable of influencing, enhancing, growing, and thriving in each of these dimensions through taking responsible action.
Cape Town can’t make rain. But Cape Town can’t wait for things outside their control to change before changing things that are within its control.
Not everything in SAMHSA’s 8 dimensions is entirely under our control. But we’re foolish to wait for things outside our control to change before we take responsible action for ourselves.
Each of these eight dimensions of wellbeing are vital. Vital, from the Latin “vitalis” meaning “life-giving.” Think air, water, food. That kind of vital. Each dimension is interrelated to every other dimension.
Spiritual wellbeing focuses on our faith, beliefs, character, and values.
Emotional wellbeing focuses on making use of our personal strengths as well as coping with stressors we encounter.
Social wellbeing focuses on engaging in healthy relationships with family, friends, and the broader community.
Intellectual wellbeing focuses on keeping our brains active by continuing learning whether personally or professionally, discussing our thoughts with others and staying engaged in personal hobbies or interests
Physical wellbeing focuses on diet, exercise, sleep, medical care and other concerns.
Environmental wellbeing focuses on maintaining clean, orderly and comfortable areas where we live or work.
Occupational wellbeing focuses on employment or volunteering in activities that are meaningful to ourselves and others.
Financial wellbeing focuses on responsible earning, spending, saving, and investing
When we neglect or abuse one or more of these dimensions, we allow or create vulnerabilities that will ultimately undermine our own health and wellbeing. Left unchecked, these vulnerabilities can infect others around us, undermining their wellbeing as well.
When we take responsible action for our own wellbeing, not only do we benefit, others benefit as well.
Review the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. Which dimensions are strongest for you? Which are vulnerable? What ideas do you have for taking responsible action to strengthen your wellbeing?