VIEW ALL BRIEF POSTS

Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s in a name?” The answer is a lot. Words, and how they’re mobilized, matter. The subtle ways that words evolve and the “work” they do have a major impact on how people think. Most of us have probably used the words “wellness” and “well-being” interchangeably. We probably haven’t thought much about whether there is (or should be) a distinction.  

Susie Ellis, the GWI’s chairman, predicts that this is about to change. She sees a (necessary) coming evolution where wellness gets firmly associated with health and prevention, and well-being becomes more associated with happiness. The reason?  People are beginning to pay more attention to “indexes,” such as the Gallup-Healthways “Well-Being Index” and the UN’s “World Happiness Report,” and are finding that happy countries aren’t necessarily healthy countries. Nor are healthier countries necessarily happy ones. 

Ellis recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post, where she delves into this issue while also addressing where spas fit into this conversation.

Read more on Huffington Post

 

5 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between Wellness and Well-being? Or is There One?”

  1. Good point and I’m so happy to be reading about this.

    I’ve always found very hard to translate the word "wellness" to Portuguese, because there is no translation at all. We’ll have to adopt the English version as wellness – in my humble opinion – means so much more than well-being. Thanks Susie!

    Cheers,
    Adriane Kinzel

    1. Agree! we have the same problem for spanish, no word for wellness… I just say it in english 🙂

  2. Agreed! Great explanation of the difference.
    How this will translate to other languages is a great question – in Spanish, ‘bienestar’ is the translation for both wellness and wellbeing.

  3. Great article, bravo! I think another way to think about wellness vs well-being is that wellness relates primarily to our physical state (which is very much affected by our mental, emotional, spiritual state), while well-being relates to our mental, emotional and spiritual state (which is impacted by our physical health). So while they are closely related, they are different. And we need both to thrive!

    To add to the language/culture differences, in Chinese wellness is typically translated as "healthy" or "nurturing life" while well-being is described as "happiness" or "a sense of blessedness." So I think it confirms what you proposed as the distinction between wellness and well-being.

  4. How is well-being defined from the CDC

    There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning.4, 33-35 In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.36, 37 For public health purposes, physical well-being (e.g., feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall well-being. Researchers from different disciplines have examined different aspects of well-being that include the following4, 34, 38, 39, 41-46:

    Physical well-being.
    Economic well-being.
    Social well-being.
    Development and activity.
    Emotional well-being.
    Psychological well-being.
    Life satisfaction.
    Domain specific satisfaction.
    Engaging activities and work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.