As a kid growing up on a remote cattle ranch in Wyoming, I grew up scrappy. I had to be fast to outrun a charging bull and innovative enough to find a way to saddle a horse so tall that my stirrup came to rest at eye level. I never thought much about well-being and considered the pursuit of happiness a symptom of weak minds and coddled lifestyles.
As a young FBI agent, I leaned into the type of Stoicism that was my birthright — I gritted my teeth and bowed my head to push through obstacles. I learned early to endure hardship without complaint, which worked for a while.
Until it didn’t.
The need for emotional well-being
Years of working long and hard hours left me exhausted and overwhelmed. I snapped at people, spaced out in meetings, and made poor decisions. A job that once energized me left me with a sense of dread as I faced the day.
My stress built to the point where it affected my work and personal relationships. Terms like self-care and well-being made me cringe because that was not how I was raised to deal with problems or adversity. Those terms seemed too indulgent for a serious professional such as myself.
I chased achievements in the hopes I would find contentment, but as hard as I worked, the good feelings never lasted. I needed to rethink the meaning of happiness because motivational talks and yellow stickies filled with inspirational quotes left me as overwhelmed and burned out as before.
I pulled through the malaise and found answers, but the pursuit of happiness for a job well done didn’t do it. Instead, it was an understanding of how emotional well-being would change my approach to life.
The National Center for Emotional Wellness (NCEW) describes emotional well-being as “an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of feelings and an ability to manage effectively through times of change or challenge.”
The past couple of years have put us through very challenging and intense times, and it’s left many of us not knowing how to move forward when we feel stuck or burned out.
Here are 3 scientific reasons why emotional well-being is key to your success: