January 17, 2024

Well-Being: Four Essential Pillars Backed by Science

Research has identified four aspects of the mind that exhibit plasticity, and it turns out that we can practice to make our minds healthier.

As the research surrounding wellbeing has become more robust, catching up to the vast literature surrounding the study of suffering and struggles, scientists have been able to say with verified confidence that our wellbeing in life is a practice, a skill to be honed, rather than only the intellectual gathering of knowledge on the subject. Through this research, four common themes or pillars, as they have come to be called, have emerged as core tenets to be embraced in the practice of wellbeing. 

Studied and developed by Dr. Richie Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds, he has been on the forefront of developing this framework for well-being. The encouraging research demonstrates how these pillars can be strengthened through practices such as meditation, mindfulness, and other mental practices. They have even been proven to combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.  


  • AWARENESS: A heightened, flexible attentiveness to our environment and internal cues such as bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings.
    • Meta-awareness: the ability to know what our minds are doing.
    • Skills: Mindfulness, attention, self-awareness


  • CONNECTION: A feeling of care and kinship toward other people, promoting supportive relationships and supportive interactions.
    • Skills: Appreciation, kindness, compassion


  • INSIGHT: Self-knowledge concerning how our emotions, thoughts and beliefs shape experiences and sense-of-self.
    • Navigating our relationship with our narrative. 
    • Skills: Self-inquiry, self-knowledge, self-transcendence


  • PURPOSE: Being clear about our core values and deeper motivation and being able to apply them in our daily lives.
    • Finding meaning and purpose in that which we are already doing.
    • Skills: Clarifying and embodying purpose, values, and meaning


What is even more profound to consider is not just the flourishing that the strengthening of these pillars produces in our own lives, but the collective benefit they have on society as a whole as entire communities, perhaps such as religious or other societal groups, embrace these pillars. As technology has continued to play a more significant role in our daily lives, human interactions can more easily be reduced to the one-dimensional type of life, skewed with dehumanizing tendencies towards others. Reconnecting with the pillars of our own wellbeing is a way to reunite humanity in the face of these modern obstacles.

Read more about The Four Pillars of Well-Being here.

Thrive Center


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