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The Five Essential Elements

By:  Tom Rath and Jim Harter

Recommended if:

  • You’d like some practical, science-backed tips on what you can do to improve your wellbeing.
  • You’d like to get a holistic view of what is – and isn’t – contributing to your own wellbeing.
  • You want to understand the impact of wellbeing on your organization’s engagement, salaries, costs, and productivity.
  • You’re looking for a little extra motivation to make a personal change.
  • You want to better understand how values, purpose, and strengths work together to help us maximize our level of wellbeing.


Backed by the science behind Gallup’s extensive research and analysis on the wellbeing of over 350,000 people, “Wellbeing” presents their key findings on what makes us truly happy.

Insightful statistics are presented alongside true stories of change.  This balanced perspective helps the reader better understand how the research may be applicable to his own life.  Wellbeing is explored from the perspective of five different categories.  Here is a favorite take away from each one:

Career Wellbeing
We spend too much time and energy at work to not do something we love.
People who have the chance to use their strengths at work are six times as likely to be engaged, and three times as likely to have a higher quality of life overall.

Social Wellbeing
Choose your friends wisely.
If your friend’s friend is happy, “… the odds of you being happy increase by 10% even if you don’t know or interact with this secondhand connection.”

Financial Wellbeing
Money can buy different types of happiness.
Spending money on experiences (like dinner out with friends, date nights, or trips) produces, “…two to three times the levels of wellbeing when compared to material purchases.”

Physical Wellbeing
We have even more control than we think.
While our genes may predispose us to certain health risks, the decisions we make for our health have a strong influence on their expression.

Community Wellbeing
It IS better to give than to receive.
The same regions of our brain that ‘light up’ when we receive money, glow even brighter when we give.

Values.  At Work.

From the book:

“While 66% of people are doing well in at least one of these areas, just 7% are thriving in all five.”

“… the single biggest threat to our own wellbeing tends to be ourselves.  Without even giving it much thought, we allow our short-term decisions to override what’s best for our long-term wellbeing.”

Being ‘value driven’ is all about choosing in favor or our future self. Our values are a practical, ‘thoughtful’ tool for helping us make better decisions about our future, by choosing what’s best for us in the here and now.

And, if you really want to put your values to work, each book comes with a registration code good for a free, six-month membership to the Wellbeing online program.  Here, users can take the wellbeing assessment and receive specific suggestions on steps to take to improve wellbeing based on the results.  Also included is access to their “Daily Tracker” tool, to provide accountability for making a change and trending your wellbeing over time.

What’s your wellbeing score?  Find out!