In a comprehensive review published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (P&P), Carol Ryff described how major research findings have supported the link between psychological well-being and physical health.
The model of psychological well-being was developed more than two decades ago to address neglected aspects of positive functioning such as purposeful engagement in life, realization of personal talents and capacities, and enlightened self-knowledge. The conceptual origins of this formulation are revisited and scientific products emerging from 6 thematic areas are examined:
- How well-being changes across adult development and later life;
- What are the personality correlates of well-being;
- How well-being is linked with experiences in family life;
- How well-being relates to work and other community activities;
- What are the connections between well-being and health, including biological risk factors, and
- Via clinical and intervention studies, how psychological well-being can be promoted for ever-greater segments of society.
Together, these topics illustrate flourishing interest across diverse scientific disciplines in understanding adults as striving, meaning-making, proactive organisms who are actively negotiating the challenges of life. A take-home message is that increasing evidence supports the health protective features of psychological well-being in reducing risk for disease and promoting length of life. A recurrent and increasingly important theme is resilience - the capacity to maintain or regain well-being in the face of adversity.