In my posts about weight loss, and a future one about non-scale indicators, I came across a really interesting Personal Wellbeing Index for adults. It has academic rigour, solid citations, decent logic, and relatively discrete categories for themes/areas. I don’t know whether or not it holds water for my weightloss journey, that is a totally-separate question, but I wanted to try it out, so let’s see how it goes.
1. How satisfied am I with my standard of living?
On the test’s ten-point scale, I’d say probably an 8 or 9. I’ll go with 8 for now.
But, of course, as an introverted analyst who normally hates subjective questions, I want to quibble with the question. What does “satisfied” mean? What is included in a SoL? What does it mean to evaluate that when I’m married with someone with a strong second income? Is “satisfied” the right term to measure “quality” or am I just going to see how “satisfied” I am with my life? Is it “singularly happy” or “comparatively happy”?
None of that really matters, as I’m only comparing it to myself. As long as I’m consistent with how I interpret it *for me*, the rest falls away. Yet, for me, a strong element is comparative to that of my parents or between Jacob and myself at the same age. Would I like to be more financially secure (other questions later) or have a slightly more viable opportunity to give Jacob more vacations and travel? Sure. But those are more luxuries to get me to 10, or more accurately, probably into a whole other scale past “10”.
2. How satisfied am I with my health?
On a ten-point scale, I’m going to go with a 6.
I could go lower with a weight-biased view of my health that might make me rate it as a 0 right now. Except I also know that things could be a whole lot worse. The problems I have are relatively fixable, and so for the test, I would say “satisfied with my actual health” might be less accurate than “satisfied with my current options and approach”.
3. How satisfied am I with what I am currently achieving in life?
On a ten-point scale, I’m going to go with a 7.
This one was hard. As an analytical introvert, I am big on goals, goal-setting, goal-tracking, and generally leading a well-examined life. It also means that I am regularly focused on the “next big thing” on my list. But I’m doing pretty well overall within the parameters I have. I’m not KILLING IT at work, as a father, as a husband, as a community member, as a person. But I`ve got one big goal to focus on at the exclusion of almost everything else in my to do list, and I’m doing it. That’s pretty significant. I could do it a lot better, sure, I could be doing more in more areas, but I’m making progress, and that’s good enough for now.
4. How satisfied am I with my personal relationships?
On a ten-point scale, I’ll go with a 6.
I’d say most of the time it’s a 7, but I’m a bit more isolated right now. Some of that is winter, some of that is focusing on my weight, some of that is being a hermit. I’d like to feel closer to my wife, have more quality conversations and activities with my son, do more with a few close friends. But I`m certainly doing better than okay (5), and as I said, it’s normally higher.
5. How satisfied am I with how safe I feel?
If I interpret this as physical safety and/or economic safety, I’m going to rank it pretty high. Probably a 9 or 10 most of the time. Some trips might compromise the physical safety, and there are always unforeseen economic pitfalls that can hit at any time. A bigger challenge would be health safety, and while I would say it would have pulled me down to a 7 or 8 a few months ago, I feel like most things are under control. So I`ll go with 9.
6. How satisfied am I with feeling part of my community?
As I said under #4, I’ve made some choices in the last three years that have led to a bit more isolation in some areas (friends, outings with guys) and more interaction in others (astronomy). It makes me feel untethered at times. So while I’m not sure a good way to score this element, I’m going to go simply, trust my gut, and say I’m at 3.
7. How satisfied am I with my future security?
I don’t feel there is a lot of difference right now between this question and #5 for me, but as there are a few unknowns about retirement, I’ll downgrade it to an 8.
There are TWO OPTIONAL QUESTIONS in the test, and the first is quite challenging.
8. How satisfied are you with your spirituality or religion?
Ignoring the religion side for me as it is not particularly relevant (and the test recommends removing it), I am however interested in questions of gratitude, mindfulness, meditation, etc. All three are lacking in me, and I want to expand them, so I’m going to give it a 2. But I’m going to keep it in my list, with the redirected focus.
9. How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?
This one is not really part of the formal test, more of a relative observation question. After all, the previous 8 assessed different aspects, and if you treated them as equal, you could simply average them (as your brain often does when asked a question like this).
My individual scores/ratings were 8, 6, 7, 6, 9, 3, 8, and 2. The average of those would be 6.1 or so. But if I answer the overall question, I have to say I would put myself closer to 7 or an 8. Sure, some parts could be better, but in general, I have a pretty good life.
So my overall assessment is greater than the sum of its parts, or put perhaps more mathematically, my strong ratings for standard of living, safety and security tend to raise my numbers; by contrast, my community and spirituality lower me quite a bit.
On a formal assessment, the numbers go up by average; on an informal assessment, particularly if I was just gauging mood, those feelings of isolation or disconnectedness factor in much more strongly.
Interestingly, a normative number for Australia is 7.5 with a self-assessed number overall of 7.7. I’m a bit off their norm but only by one standard deviation or so. And I’m more curious if my number changes over time than the norms.
Although honestly, I just thought they were cool questions for a reflection post.