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Health & Spirit

Well-Being Is Sinking, But You Can Rise Above It

Marilynn Preston on

There are January clearance sales going on all over town, including my own desk. Near the top of one precarious pile of papers is an eye-opening column by David Brooks, the famed political columnist for The New York Times.

"We're enjoying one of the best economies of our lifetime," it starts off, and then drills down into a subject I call my own: the art and science of well-being. In Brooks' case, the emphasis is on politics.

The well-being of most Americans is being crushed, Brooks reports, citing research from the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. (Could that research be hiding under the very same pile?)

"Last year turned out to be the worst year for well-being of any since the study began 10 years ago," Brooks writes, calling this time in America "a straight-up social catastrophe."

The Well-Being Index measures well-being by asking people about several different areas: financial security, social relationships, sense of purpose and connectedness to community.

Did you get that? Your well-being isn't about how much you weigh or how many push-ups you can do. It's broader than that, and more basic than that. In a minute, we'll get to three ways you can dramatically improve your own well-being without waiting for the wall to be built or the stock market to rebound.

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But first, let's get educated. Why does the politically conservative David Brooks think our collective well-being is sinking so far so fast?

"Part of the problem is Donald Trump," he writes. "People can't feel good about things when they think the country is disastrously run."

Another part of America's well-being crisis involves educated young people who graduated from college loaded down with debt and then ended up with jobs they don't like -- that pay much less than they expected.

But even that isn't the main reason our well-being suffers.

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