What is the historical background of general wellbeing? Is it a new concept, or does it have roots that are centuries old? These questions are at the core of many debates in the public sphere, from health care to politics. These debates have been raging for decades, and the historical backdrop of general wellbeing is largely obscure. But, there are a few key points worth noting. Let’s examine these questions in turn.
Well-being is a complex concept, rooted in religious and philosophical traditions. It has no single, fixed definition. The term has become a buzzword for a multi-billion dollar wellness industry. Although it is not fixed, some well-being estimates are considered robust. What does well-being mean to us, and how can we measure it? Let’s take a closer look at two major traditions of well-being.
The first account of well-being is based on the concept of hedonia, most simply understood as pleasure. Hedonistic people are often known as “party animals” or pleasure monsters. Their roots go back to the Epicureans, who believed that pleasure was good. Likewise, hedonists tend to be highly active and passionate, which could lead to an inflated sense of well-being.
The second wave of social indicators emerged around the 1970s, in response to a movement for more objective and comprehensive social measures. These metrics were not based on a robust analysis of quality of life and who needed what. As a result, the term’statistics’ was created and made its way onto the international political agenda. In fact, this movement is still alive today, but it is a different beast.
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