Reframing our point of view for the new world economy.
: the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous : welfare
The definition above is from Merriam Webster Dictionary, 1582. People (happiness, health) and profit (prosperity) are included in the original definition of the term ‘wellbeing’ and they still maintain their position today. However, in light of the ever-changing times we live in, a new measurable attribute must be added to the definition. That attribute is environmental impact.
At the time the original entry was created, human impact on the environment was far from the minds of designers, industrialists and heads of state. The idea that human behavior had any adverse impact on the natural world was a foreign one and the largest business concern of the time was profit. Yet, we must now consider the ecology and the environment we live and work in as indicators of our state of wellbeing. We can be happy, healthy and prosperous, but if we are destroying the environment we depend on to support human life, to state that we possess satisfactory wellbeing would be erroneous.
I do not believe it is possible for wellbeing to exist amidst massive environmental losses, just as much as it cannot exist without prosperity. The new wellbeing paradigm requires all of these attributes to be present, resulting in a triple bottom line approach. When considering the use of strategic design, we need to maintain our focus on creating economic value, while also benefiting the world from a social and environmental perspective.
Next Tuesday, CATALYST will publish its 4th issue titled Designing Wellbeing: Re-focus. Re-invent. Rejuvenate. It features articles on a number of wellbeing issues as it relates to design. The hope is that by re-framing our definition of wellbeing, we can better design products, systems, experiences, services and solutions that will rejuvenate our happiness, health, economy and natural environment.
I would propose the following amendment to the definition of wellbeing, which will aid us in our use of design in its pursuit:
: the state of being happy, healthy, prosperous, and environmentally responsible