How to avoid the cult of wellbeing

I’ve been involved in a few discussions lately that have referred to the ‘cult of wellbeing’. So you’ve most likely come across what people mean here and despite the fact that I’m sure it has good intentions at heart, a key step on the journey of us successfully evolving our understanding and practice in this space, is making sure we stop to realise that this is not really what wellbeing is about.

a perfect life

I’m talking about that vision of a life perfectly in balance usually depicted by an image of a young, slim person doing yoga, drinking green tea with glowing skin in a beautiful setting.

I think as human beings we often deal in absolutes – to be well, we need to look as close to that picture as possible and if we don’t, we’re not yet winning at looking after our own wellbeing.

money maker

Not only is this how our brains tend to work, the commercial consumer culture that we live in, likes to surround us with visions of their view of a destination that it would be good for us to work towards. But good for who? Is that what wellbeing looks like for you? Or does it just drive us to put more pressure on ourselves to be something we’re not – which often comes with spending money and time on possibly the wrong things to try and help us get there?

So ultimately only good for the organisations conveniently with stuff to sell who put these images in front of us. Because they know how we’ll respond….


People often ask me these days how I’m so calm all of the time. The answer is I’m not. I’ve just developed a practice which helps me deal more effectively with the rollercoaster of life. This is what’s genuinely accessible to all of us whether you live on a beach, drink green tea and can sit for hours in the lotus position or not.

Here are five considerations I think are key when it comes to avoiding the cult of wellbeing and creating a wellbeing why and a practice that really works for you…

Why are you really doing this?

Take some time out to reflect on why wellbeing is important to you and what compelling reasons exist for you to make a change. Look for your why from the inside of you rather than feeling you have to meet expectations set from the outside. For me it’s all about being in the best place for my little girl so I can be there for her to listen and hold her when she needs me as well as keeping up with her in the park!

Create your own vision of a calmer, happier and healthier life

This is a really important one because this is where we can feel we have to meet an external standard of perfection so it’s challenging our head to think differently around what a calmer, happier and healthier life means in our world in a way which works for us as individuals. It’s not about being perfect, in fact, far from it. I still enjoy a good pizza but I now add in some salad and that’s how things work for me.

Balance means living through the good days and the bad days.

Life goes up and down and that’s completely normal, and so do we as human beings. I find it incredibly difficult to sit with difficult feelings and not try to control my out of challenges and problems but I do take a lot of comfort from knowing that a balanced and normal life means some days will be tougher than others and not to resist that so much or feel like it’s my fault.

Focus on your energy

Challenges and problems feel so much harder when my energy is low. A really helpful part of my wellbeing practice is to build a much deeper understanding of what energises me and what drains me as well as understanding what I need to do to take care of myself when my energy is low.

Tiny steps

Putting pressure on ourselves is really unhelpful when it comes to behaviour change around wellbeing. Learning how to be kind to ourselves as we learn and grow starts with being ok with taking small steps forwards and not getting demotivated when we take some steps backwards too. Celebrate the successes however small or irrelevant they may feel.