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108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to identify, measure, nourish, and then leverage whatever makes life worthwhile
This is Tom Rath's latest book, co-authored with Jim Harter whose previous book, 12: The Elements of Great Managing, Harter co-authored with Rodd Wagner. Rath explains that in addition to their own research for this book, he and Harter consulted an abundance of research conducted by the Gallup Organization with which they are associated. Moreover, "Gallup assembled an...
Published on May 4, 2010 by Robert Morris

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit lacking...
I work for a company that promotes wellness. I was actually really confused when I first heard of these "five essential elements of wellbeing" and thought someone must have made an error in the presentation I was listening to because there was absolutely no mention of any psychological or emotional wellness contributing to wellbeing. I found out it's not one of the five...
Published 22 months ago by km8870


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108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to identify, measure, nourish, and then leverage whatever makes life worthwhile, May 4, 2010
This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
This is Tom Rath's latest book, co-authored with Jim Harter whose previous book, 12: The Elements of Great Managing, Harter co-authored with Rodd Wagner. Rath explains that in addition to their own research for this book, he and Harter consulted an abundance of research conducted by the Gallup Organization with which they are associated. Moreover, "Gallup assembled an assessment composed of the best questions asked over the last 50 years. To create this assessment, the Well-Being Finder, we tested hundreds of questions across countries, languages, and vastly different life situations."

For me, some of the most important revelations include those that help to explain how people (in a 150 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) experience their days and evaluate their lives overall. More specifically, as Rath and Harter explain, five distinct statistical factors emerged. "These core dimensions are universal elements of well-being, or how we think about and experience our lives - the interconnected elements that differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering." Although 66% of those surveyed are doing well in one of the five areas, only 7% are thriving in all five. "These five factors are the currency of a life that is worthwhile. They describe demands of life that we can all [begin italics] do something about [end italics] and that are important to people in every life situation we studied." Here they are, with my own take on each:

Career Well-Being: To be eager to begin work each day, feel appreciated as a person as well as an employee, respect supervisor, enjoys associates, speak with pride and appreciation about company to others

Social Well-Being: To have several strong relationships, be able toactivate a support system when encountering problems, feel loved

Financial Well-Being: To manage finances prudently, be aware of costs and in control of expenditures, frugal but not cheap

Physical Well-Being: To get sufficient rest as well as rigorous regular exercise, have plenty of energy in reserve, eat sensibly)

Note: In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John Ratey explains why there is a direct and decisive correlation between a healthy lively body and a healthy lively brain. Those who have a special interest in this important subject are strongly urged to check out Ratey's book.

Community Well-Being: To be actively and productively engaged in the neighborhood and in the community as well as in various groups within the area such as a church, P.T.A., Crime Watch, Meals on Wheels, homeowners' association, etc.

Rath and Harter have much of value to say about each of these five dimensions of human experience such as their core values, sources of nutrition, strategies for development, threats to well-being, and interdependence with each other. Of even greater value, in my opinion, they suggest what lessons can be learned from responses to Gallup's global surveys during the last 50 years and offer their observations and recommendations in terms of how each reader can improve the quality of life and sense of well-being in each dimension.

They observe, "For many people, spirituality is the thread that connects and drives them in [begin italics] all [end italics] of these areas. Their faith is the single most important element in their lives, and it is the foundation of their daily efforts across each of the five areas. For others, a deep mission, such as protecting the environment, drives them each day. While the things that motivate us differ greatly from one person to the next, the outcomes do not."

Readers will especially appreciate Rath and Harter's provision of a brief summary of the "essentials" at the conclusion of the separate chapter they devote to each of the five elements. They also provide seven appendices in the "Additional Tools and Resources" section and thus enable each reader to complete a number of self-diagnostic exercises within the context they have so carefully formulated throughout the preceding narrative. Appendix A, for example, consists of "The Well-Being Finder: Measuring and Managing Your Well-Being" and Appendix G offers a brief but remarkably comprehensive discussion of "Well-Being Around the World."

Credit Tom Rath and Jim Harter with a brilliant achievement of enduring importance and exceptional significance. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time someone has analyzed hundreds of Gallup's global surveys involving millions of respondents and correlated, indeed integrated what they reveal within a framework that embraces five major dimensions of human experience.

I wholeheartedly agree with them that "one of the best ways to create more good days is by setting positive defaults. Any time you can help your short-term self work with your longer-term aims, it presents an opportunity. You can intentionally choose to spend more time with the people you enjoy most and engage your strengths as much as possible." Once our daily choices are in proper alignment with long-term benefits, our families, our friendships, our workplaces, and our communities will become healthier and thus even more worthwhile. If well-being is the objective, then well-becoming is the opportunity.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeffrey Fisher, M.A., Personal and Business Coach, May 23, 2010
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This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
This book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, is more than just an amazing read it's also an ongoing process. I'll explain. Tom Rath and Jim Harter, both associated with Gallup, were involved in the design of an assessment - the Wellbeing Finder - that tested hundreds of questions across 150 countries and multiple languages, with populations in vastly different life situations. What emerged from the research were five universal elements of well-being that differentiate individuals who are suffering or thriving in their lives. These elements include career wellbeing, social wellbeing, financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and community wellbeing.

The book covers all of these areas, as well as much of the research, and provides a rather straightforward guide to help individuals get more out of life and boost their own wellbeing. More than that, within the book you will be able to find a key that allows you to do an online assessment of all these five areas and compare yourself to a large database of individuals demographically. In addition it is possible to record well-being on a daily basis, on all of these five factors, and get some sense of how sometimes subtle changes in your routine or experience can have a significant affect on your wellbeing.

What I love about this book, and the online assessment tool, is that reading it and actively participating in the process really provides you with some concrete areas to improve. The authors make it clear that many of us are unwilling to make long-term changes in our habits even if we know that maintaining our presence lifestyles will lead to significant long-term consequences. Their understanding that regular evidenced-based feedback and concrete goals and action plans can make a huge difference in whether we just survive or thrive.

This is going to be a very popular book!
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise Authoritative Book, but One Element is Missing, August 20, 2010
This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
I read the Rath and Hartner wellbeing book and I loved it. I teach Positive Psychology at the University level and found it really attractive to have something so authoritative and concise and so user friendly. The relevance of the info and how only useful info was included was also attractive. I read in on the bus and only took less then 1.5 hrs. The ease of reading was a big plus. The 112 pages of core text is impressive because it is so very jam packed with vital/key info, but not in a cluttered way or a way that made the info inaccessible. I know the research and so know what was being said had plenty of empirical support. Yet, the science foundation was strategically downplayed in favor of increased user-friendlyness and accessibility. Lack of references was a plus in regards student buy-in/uptake/readability. So, to summarize, the main thing I liked most was the concise efficiency and effectiveness/persuasiveness of info delivery.

Plus, each sentence was masterfully crafted for maximum communication value in a way that packed a desirable intellectual punch. Bravo to the authors for making an art out of communicating science. Its a really truly a work of art. Rarely is science make to be so very appealing to the popular culture. And not just appealing but useful info too. I liked how it was both an authoritative read but also a friendly read.

In terms of weaknesses, being a psychologist, i felt the major limitation was they left out what I consider to be the 6th Element. It really did come as a surprise that Rath and Hartner overlooked Psychological Wellbeing. I see they compensated for the excessive autistic nature of many Psychological models of Wellbeing. It was a real strength to include coverage of career, social, physical wellbeing. I don't often see financial wellbeing being included and liked the expanded concern with the person's ecology. The chapter on community wellbeing was wonderful, again featuring the contextualized person. But, the thinking, feeling, yearning, experiencing, sensing, and motivated person was missing. A 6th Element to address this would make the next edition of the wellbeing book more appealing to psychologists. Still, its incredibly strong and I will extract some info and place it in my lectures when i teach Positive Psychology in the Fall of 2010, at the University of Windsor (Ontario Canada).s
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit lacking..., February 5, 2013
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This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
I work for a company that promotes wellness. I was actually really confused when I first heard of these "five essential elements of wellbeing" and thought someone must have made an error in the presentation I was listening to because there was absolutely no mention of any psychological or emotional wellness contributing to wellbeing. I found out it's not one of the five components. So I bought the book, thinking surely it would explain the absence in some reasonable way to me. Not so. It's just... missing. As if the 57.7 million Americans with mental disorders could just get a better job or improve their social lives and perhaps their illness would disappear?

I'm not saying the components mentioned aren't important- all of those things contribute to the authors definition of wellbeing: "the things that are important to how we think about and experience our lives." But I found that the authors' "advice" even on these other topics was pretty flimsy. In the career wellbeing section we are advised to "avoid sustained periods of unemployment (over a year) when you are actively seeking a job but unable to find one." Since most unemployed people are not unemployd by choice, and the author is actually acknowledging that they are unable to find a job...I fail to see how that is at all helpful (and it's actually a bit insulting... to the unemployed person and my intelligence).

Basically, the views here are quite simplistic. We found out that people with "high wellbeing" are passionate about their work...so everyone should have a job they are passionate about. What a lovely idea! How exactly, does that work? Since it's probably more realistic in many cases to say that a person would be unable to leave a job they are unhappy with due to financial obligations and a poor job market, focus might be better placed on improving an employees' outlook (psychological/emotional) or improving the workplace environment. I think most of the book, and the financial chapter in particular, is speaking to a smaller percentage of Americans who do have more economic choices and freedom... in the midst of our present economy, and when the reality is that a third of the country has a household income of less than $25k, advising people to spend money on vacations for "the experience" comes across as a bit out of touch.

Reporting data is one thing. Interpreting what that data really means is much more complicated. This book does a great disservice to the data by leaving big chunks of who we are out of the picture.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gallup Catches Up With the University of Notre Dame, June 27, 2010
This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
Best-selling authors Tom Rath ("Strength Finders 2.0") and Jim Harter ("12:The Elements of Great Managing") have outlined where life's focus should be to achieve "Well Being." Wellbeing is not about being rich, successful, happy nor is it limited to health and wellness. "Wellbeing is about the combination of our love for what we do every day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health, and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities. Most importantly, it's about how these five elements interact."

The book "Wellbeing" is the result of Gallup research covering 150 countries, representing 98% of the world's population. Five universal elements of wellbeing emerged from its research and were found to be universal across faiths, cultures, and nationalities. "These elements differentiate a thriving life from one spent suffering." 66% of the study participants were found to be doing well in at least one of the major areas, with just 7% thriving in all five.

The single biggest threat to wellbeing is "me"; we tend to work against our best interests.

Authors Rath and Harter lay out how we can work in our best interests and make a difference in managing our wellbeing with a thorough discussion on the role of each of the five elements (Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, Community Wellbeing); with an action plan (use your strengths each day, buy experiences with friends and family, etc) following each section; with a Wellbeing Finder to test the reader's wellbeing (much like the Strengths Finder test); and with plenty of other tools and references including data on wellbeing across the U.S. and the world.

I was taught that life balance is achieved by growing intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually throughout life while a student at the University of Notre Dame. Those I would meet who were "out-of-balance" would have a deficit in one or more of these essentials. "Well Being," for me, is an extension of the Notre Dame philosophy and is well worth the time for all seeking a "life well lived."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So so, January 3, 2011
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This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
I've read previous books and expected more from this book. Most is common sense and refers back to research. I walked away with a couple of good points, but didn't think it was worth the money. It would had been nice to tie wellbeing somehow back to previous strengths and weeknesses. It's so so, a fast easy read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars States the Obvious, December 11, 2010
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This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
This book reiterates what most of us already know. (I tend to purchase books in this genre so none of this information was really new to me.) For example, if you don't already know that in general people should be eating less and exercising & sleeping more, then I imagine you have been living in a cave. What I found most interesting were the studies cited, and the Gallup organization is known for its wealth of data so this is no surprise. All in all, it wasn't bad, but I am puzzled as to why anyone would give this book five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Being, Indeed, July 19, 2010
This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
The Gallup folks have done it again. They've conducted rigorous research in 150 countries, including the US, on what makes us live a complete life--one of wellbeing. In their quest among oceans of data, they've discovered five elements that shape a life of wellbeing: Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, and Community Wellbeing. They've not only written an immensely accessible, readable book, but also a well documented, well sourced one. Furthermore, Tom Rath and Jim Harter have created a Wellbeing Finder, an online instrument that provides follow-up reader engagement. Gallup has done this before with its now famous StrengthsFinder. I recommend Well Being to anyone interested in their own, their team's, and their organization's wellbeing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maintaining a Balanced & Productive Life, May 19, 2010
This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
Many people strive for a condition of "wellbeing" without understanding all of the elements that go into such a state. Some may become obsessed with the financial rewards, while others may dwell on the physical end of the spectrum; watching their diet and weight so religiously, they forget to enjoy anything they eat or do.

In other words, their lives lack balance; an essential element that goes into that blissful state of wellbeing. Of course, in practically any endeavor, a lack of balance is usually the recipe for disaster; or at least, unfulfilled potential.

The authors, Tom Rath & Jim Harter (co-author of 12: The Elements of Great Managing - one of my favorite books) have teamed up to produce this pragmatic and wonderfully simple guide to wellbeing. The research they compiled was anything but simple; in fact, it was exhaustive. The good news is they have successfully identified the five essential elements that go into any individual's state of wellbeing, no matter where they inhabit this planet. That may come as a surprise to some of us; wellbeing knows no geographical boundaries, political ideologies or religious beliefs. It applies to that guy in China or that lady in Germany; or to you and me.

The five elements: Career, Social, Financial, Physical & Community

Maintaing a balanced life; encompassing equal doses of these five elements, produces the best results for us. We have the authors' well-researched word on it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How do you rate your well-being?, June 7, 2010
This review is from: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (Hardcover)
Our culture often dictates our priorities in life, whether it's financial gain, community participation, etc. This book allows us to step back and take a look at a bigger picture of ourselves, reminding us that a narrow focus on only one or two items is not a long term plan for true happiness with our lives. That happiness and contentment with our lives comes from a variety of aspects. Read, learn, grow. Re-Engineering Your Life
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Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements
Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath (Hardcover - May 4, 2010)
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