Almost everyone can think of a moment when they felt well. Maybe it was midway through a week lying on a beach in Hawaii with childhood friends. Or maybe it was during a three-week hiking trip in the Sierra Nevada. Maybe it was that eureka moment when a sudden insight provided the answer to a pressing scientific question.
There are all kinds of ways to cultivate and experience a sense of well-being. But what do all these feelings and experiences have in common? What factors contribute to that sense of well-being and how does well-being enhance our health and wellness?
In 2014, the Stanford Prevention Research Center launched the Wellness Living Laboratory (WELL) to explore similar questions. This September the WELL project will begin enrolling 30,000 volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area, in New Taipei City, Taiwan, and in Hangzhou, China, to find the answers.
As I wrote in my feature story on WELL and well-being for Stanford Magazine:
If we want to promote wellness for everyone, we have to, first, be able to say exactly what well-being is and, second, devise rigorous ways of measuring whether it is increasing or decreasing. Once we can measure it, we can begin to discover which factors promote it or diminish it. In this way, [the] ambitious Stanford project aims to tackle anew an age-old question.
Previously: Strive, thrive and take five: Stanford Medicine magazine on the science of well-being, Thinking about "culture" as part of global well-being and Well check: Rethinking what it means to be "well"
Image by Christopher Silas Neal