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Saturday Bike Rides with Bob: Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing-Do they Fit in Gallup's Five Essential Elements?

Posted by Joe Antle on June 26, 2021 3:10 PM EDT
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After a couple of weeks hiatus from our Saturday bike rides, Bob and I set wheels to the road again.  Our discussion continued to center on the essential elements of wellbeing and how they apply to people planning for or in retirement.  However, this time we began where we left off....

...which was to build on some important points that Bob has consistently made about the importance of emotional wellbeing and spritual wellbeing in his life and the lives of many people he knows who are having outstanding retirement years, even saying those years are the best of their lives.

In advance of our Saturday bike ride today and at the end of our last discussion, I offered a challenge to Bob which he happily accepted.  The challenge was to define the relationship or integration between the five essential elements of Gallup Inc.'s global wellbeing research (ie: career, financial, physical, social, and community) and the two other elements of wellbeing that are often cited and that Bob and I both believe are very important-emotional wellbeing (or emotional IQ) and spiritual wellbeing.  

In this blog posting, I'll let you know what he came up with...so, here goes.

In typical fashion, Bob began with sharing some information he had come across in one of the many pod casts and videos he often accesses.  You may recall from one of my past blog postings that Bob has determined there are four pillars of a health, happy and purposeful retirement and they can be summed up with the acronym "LIVE".  In his acronym, the L stands for lifelong "Learning".  The I stands for "Imparting" knowledge onto others in order to help them succeed.  The V stands for "Volunteering" his time, talent and resources in service to the community and those who are less fortunate.  And the E stands for "Experiences"-enjoying and participating in many diverse and meaningful activities, such as travel, visiting others-meeting new people and trying new things. 

Our discussion on this bike ride began with Bob describing a recent pod cast by Clark Howard which shared some research that Clark had been involved in that was based on more than 2,000 personal interviews.  In the research, it was revealed that of the people who said they were fully engaged, active and not bored in their retirement, there was an average of 3.6 key things (think Bob's Pillars) that served as guideposts for their retirements.  For those who said that they were not fully enjoying their retiremement, or said that they felt they had no direction and were a bit lost, they only had an average of 1.6 elements that they felt were key aspects of their retirement.  The conclusion drawn from this simple observation was that being aware of what activities, people, pursuits and principles that give people happiness is an important aspect of "retirement wellbeing".

This led naturally to Bob's own personal interpretation that being emotionally fulfilled in retirement is based on understanding what are the key things that provide inspiration and purpose in one's life, and then spending your time, talent and resources in pursuit of those.  On the subject of "spiritual wellbeing", Bob said that he has been surprised that some people he thinks are among the smartest, most educated and successful he knows don't necessarily believe or understand with clarity and conviction that there is an afterlife and a great purpose for all human beings and a Creator.  For Bob, a devout and practicing Christian, this seems almost heresy, as well it is in the sense of abiding by Faith.  However, Bob didn't focus on it that way, he simply said that it was disconcerting that people who would not hesitate to be sure they had adequate homeowner's insurance on their homes, or auto insurance coverage on their cars, or health insurance would not have thought deeply about what happens when you die.  In other words, why would people invest resources to insure against conditions which may not ever occur, but not have prepared for what lies ahead upon one's inevitable death...especially after you consider all people will experience death.  Therefore, without advocating for any particular faith or spiritual or religious perspective, he simply made the case that spirituality should be an important part of all people's lives if they are truly to lead a life well-lived and experience fully wellbeing.

Upond this context, Bob build his final point of how emotional wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing fit into the global Gallup research on wellbeing that found there are five essential elements to wellbeing, that don't include emotional wellbeing or spiritual wellbeing.  Those you may recall are: career, finance, physical, social and community wellbeing.  Bob said with absolute conviction that in his mind where emotional wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing fit into the Gallup research model is that they are the "ends to which the means brings achievement".  In other words, or better yet in Bob's words, Gallup's five essential elements of wellbeing are the "Means to the End with Emotional wellbeing and Spiritual wellbeing perhaps being key parts of that End".

This was and is impressive logic to me.  And pragmatic while at the same time being pretty deep logic.  So, I told Bob I was going to add to my summer reading list the third reading of the book, "Well Being-The Five Essential Elements" by Tom Rath and Jim Harter.  Only this time I will be using the lens that Bob has presented as a way to understand the fullness of wellbeing leading into and during retirement.

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