The Wholistic Approach To Wellbeing, Work And Wealth

There are many ways to live life. Some people take the wholistic approach and aim to get the right blend between wellbeing, work and wealth. Different people may face different challenges to get the right blend.

Some people may do stimulating work in pioneering companies but, at the same time, neglect their health. They may work long hours in the hope that one day they will sell the business and get a pot of gold. This wealth will then give them the chance to take care of their wellbeing.

Some people may work in organisations that put pressure on them to work long hours in relatively boring jobs. They may also be heavily supervised in ways that stifle their autonomy or do not allow them to play to their strengths. This can affect their health.

Each person will find their own way to manage these challenges. One key point to remember, however, is that it is often about finding the right blend. This is different from the old idea of life-work balance.

Great workers, for example, may absorb themselves deeply in their work for long periods of time. They do not necessarily do a 9-5 shift. They love to do rewarding work, but also recognise the need to recharge.

Such people may aim to enjoy both quality of life and quality of work. This calls for finding ways to blend their wellbeing, work and wealth. Let’s explore how it may be possible to make this happen.


The most obvious approach to wellbeing is to make sure that everybody has the basic materials for life. They will then be able to shape their own health, hope and happiness.

People who have these basic materials are then more likely to explore other aspects of their wellbeing. Imagine that you want to do this in your own way.

How do you rate your present state of health? There are several aspects to consider. These include your physical, psychological and philosophical health. We all want to care for our wellbeing, but sometimes we get wake-up calls.

We may carry a cold for months, feel emotionally exhausted, lose a sense of purpose or experience a crisis. It may then be time to reassess our lives and work. Let’s explore how to maintain the various aspects of your health.

Physical Health

On a scale 0–10, how do you rate your physical health? How do you maintain your health? Do you ever get warning signs? One person explained this in the following way.

“My wake-up call came three years ago when climbing several flights of stairs. After the second flight I suddenly felt out of breath.

“This was something I had not been aware of before, probably because I normally took lifts.

“My professional life consisted of flying twice a week, eating unhealthy snacks and doing little exercise. There were two options.

I could carry on with the same schedule, which would mean getter fatter. Or I could take care of my body. I chose the latter.

“This called for developing a sustainable lifestyle rather than doing a crash programme. So I began running on weekends and slowly increased the exercise.

“During the day I grazed on regular healthy snack. These replaced eating heavy meals at lunch and the evening.

“Finally, I changed job. The flying had become a chore, with trips to the airport increasingly exhausting. Now I feel much better and have more energy.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Psychological Health

On a scale 0–10, how do you rate your psychological health? Do you have a positive attitude? Do you have encouraging people around you? Do you have fulfilling work?

The key for many people is feeling in control. Being able to shape their future plays a key part in determining their psychological health. One person explained this in the following way.

“A great breakthrough for me came when learning about the concept of controlling the controllables.

Whatever is happening around me, I need to focus on what I can control, even if it is simply choosing my attitude’

“This has given me a different perspective on life.”

There has been lots of research on the characteristics of people who are happy. The following pages again provide a summary of these findings.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to rate your psychological health on a scale 0-10. It then invites you to describe the specific things you can to do maintain or improve the rating.

Philosophical Health

On a scale 0–10, how do you rate your philosophical health? Do you find ways to develop a sense of purpose? Do you feel true to yourself? Do you have clear life goals? Do you do something each day to work towards your picture of success?

Everybody wants to enjoy a sense of meaning. Sometimes this comes encouraging their children, doing satisfying work or making a positive contribution each day. Sometimes it comes from serving something greater than themselves – be it following a faith, a calling, a tradition or whatever.

People like to see a connection between the actions they take each day and pursuing their overall life goals. Looking at your own life, how can you continue to make this link?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to rate your philosophical health on a scale 0-10. It then invites you to describe the specific things you can to do maintain or improve the rating.

There are many things that people can do to maintain their physical, psychological and philosophical health. Their sense of wellbeing is often affected by what they do at work, however, so let’s explore this theme.


There are many views on how people can do work that maintains their wellbeing. Let’s look at one approach.

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach involves going through the stages of shaping things, doing satisfying work and achieving success. Let’s explore these themes.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you followed elements of this approach? You may have been pursuing a passion, doing a creative project or doing another activity.

How did you aim to shape things? How did you do satisfying work? How did you do your best to achieve success? What happened as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.


People like to feel in control. They like to shape things in their lives and work. They sometimes follow this path when doing work by themselves. Being natural designers, they enjoy making decisions about the work they are going to do and deliver.

People sometimes follow elements of the shaping approach when working for organisations. They recognise that their decision making power will be more limited, however, when contributing towards achieving the organisation’s goals.

Good organisations recognise this challenge. They therefore manage by outcomes rather than by tasks. They give their people freedom, within parameters, regarding how they use their strengths to deliver the agreed goals.

People like to be architects in their lives and work. They are then more likely to channel their energies into being artisans on the way towards achieving success. 

Imagine that you want to shape something in the future. You may want to do work in a garden, write an article, do a creative project or pursue another activity.

Bearing in mind the things you can control, what may be the results you want to achieve? How can you shape the way you do the work? How can you do your best to achieve the desired results?

Imagine that you have taken this step. It will then be time to move on to the next stage.

Satisfying Work

People like to do satisfying work. There are many models for doing such work. One approach encourage people to explore where they are on the satisfying work curve.

Seed Corn

A person explores many possibilities. They follow their interests and plants lots of seeds. Some of these turn into activities that they can develop. They then pursue a specific activity they find stimulating.

Satisfying Work

The person translates the activity into doing a specific piece of satisfying work. This may be a task, project or other activity. They continue to pursue this venture and, if appropriate, aim to find some funding.

Salary Earner

The person translates doing the satisfying work into earning a salary. This produces both upsides and downsides. Sometimes they have spurts of growth; sometimes they feel they have plateaued. Sometimes they continue doing good work, but sometimes they experience the next stage.

Spent Force

The person finds their energy begins to deteriorate. The cash is still coming in but doing the activity is no longer stimulating. They feel like a spent force.

This does not matter if they have spent time nurturing their next crop of seed corn. They will then be ready to begin the next development cycle.

Imagine that you are doing satisfying work. This may also involve going onto the next stage.


Different people have different definitions of success. Here are some of the things that people may mention.

Success For Me Is:

Doing my best every day … Staying sober … Helping children to read … Creating an environment in which people grow … Making music that makes people happy … Passing on knowledge that helps people to succeed.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may aim to shape something, do satisfying work and do our best to achieve success? How can you take these steps in your own way?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.


There are many views about what constitutes wealth. As mentioned earlier, it is vital to ensure people have the basic materials for life.

Some people may be driven to make lots of money. They may want to feel secure, provide for their children and achieve a particular view of success. Some people find this approach works; others find that there is a heavy price to pay when aiming for a pot of gold. 

Some people have a wider view of wealth. Paul Hwoschinsky explored this approach in his 1990 book True Wealth. He invited people to focus on non-financial forms of wealth.

These could include their health, life-experiences, relationships, enjoyable activities, strengths and resilience. They could also include their imagination, creativity, knowledge, perspective and other assets.

Different people describe different things regarding what they believe to be real wealth. Here are some things they say.

Real Wealth For Me Is:

Being with our children … Sharing memories with my partner … Walking with our dogs … Working in the garden … Listening to music … Enjoying the food we cook … Appreciating beauty.

Doing work I love … Encouraging people … Seeing people develop … Being creative … Finding solutions to challenges … Feeling contented … Being alive after a serious illness … Seeing every day as a bonus.

Looking at your own life, what do you consider to be your wealth? You may have certain financial assets such as some money, a house and material possessions. What other kinds of wealth do you enjoy?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

People who appreciate their wealth are often generous. They have an abundance philosophy and want to help others to grow. They also believe in finding win-win solutions.

People who don’t appreciate their wealth may be grumpy. They sometimes have a scarcity philosophy and want to stop others developing. They may start fights that result in collateral damage.

Tom Rath is a generous person who has made an enormous contribution to helping people to improve their wellbeing. He led the Gallup Organization’s work on strengths and employee engagement.

Whilst there he wrote books such as StrengthsFinder 2.0, Strengths Based Leadership and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

Moving on, Tom explored how people could take care of their health and make their best contribution. This led to him producing books such as Eat Move Sleep, Are You Fully Charged? and Life’s Great Question.

Tom has been interested in wellbeing since discovering he had a genetic cancer condition that posed huge health challenges. Learning from his own experiences and studies, he turned his attention to health in modern societies.

This led to him writing Eat Move Sleep whichhas enabled many people to improve their lifestyles. Below are excerpts from a Question and Answer session in which Tom described why he wrote the book. 

After writing business books for more than a decade, I realised that improving health is the biggest business challenge of our generation. 

Nothing breaks household finances, corporate balance sheets, or national economies faster than poor health.

But the much larger reason why I decided to focus all of my time and energy on this topic is because I was tired of seeing people that I care about suffer unnecessarily and die early.

We are literally killing ourselves, sapping our energy, and destroying our wellbeing as a result of lousy decisions we make about our health each day.

The vast majority of human disease and illness is preventable. There are hundreds of specific, proven actions we can take to increase our odds of living longer and stronger.

What matters most are the small decisions we make each day, ones that give us more energy in the moment and also prevent illness in the future.

These three elements – eating, moving, and sleeping – build on one another. Eating right makes it easier to be active. Being active makes it easier to sleep. Sleeping well helps you to avoid bad foods, and so on.

Building on these themes, Tom explored how people could manage their energy. He then wrote Are You Fully Charged? This provided many practical tips that people could use to improve the quality of their lives and work.

Moving on, Tom focused on how people could make their best contributions during their time on the planet. This led to him writing Life’s Great Question. Here are some excerpts from a description of the book. 

Life’s Great Question: What are the most
meaningful contributions you can make?

What are the most meaningful contributions we can make? This is Life’s Great Question.

Life is about what you do that improves the world around you. It is about investing in the development of other people. And it is about efforts that continue to grow when you are gone. In the end, you won’t get to stay around forever, but your contributions will.

The key is to invest more time where your talents will yield the greatest return for others. Work is about what you create that improves lives. It is about investing in the development of other people.

While your talents are nature’s best building blocks, they serve the world best when your efforts are directed outward — not inward. Consider how your talents can make a more meaningful contribution to others over a lifetime.

Life has an unknown expiration date. Your efforts and contributions to others do not. The time, energy, and resources you invest in people you care for and your community keep growing forever.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of ways you may want to follow elements of the wellbeing, work and wealth approach? How can you do this in your own way?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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