While there is no single, universally agreed definition of wellbeing there is considerable research and practice in this area and looking across a range of attempts to define wellbeing common elements emerge.

At an individual level, wellbeing is made up of how a person feels, how satisfied they are with their lives, and their sense of meaning and purpose.¹

Aboriginal understandings of social and emotional wellbeing remind people to think holistically and collectively when thinking about what makes life good. Social and emotional wellbeing is often described as the harmony of elements such as mental, physical, cultural, spiritual, environmental, social, economic, and political and ideological health.²

Western literature offers similar wisdom and credible analyses of the drivers or determinants of wellbeing often provide a list of parts of life that are important to our wellbeing including things like income, education, work, family and community life, values, environment and physical and mental health.³

The NSW Wellbeing Collaborative has developed a Wellbeing language and definitions guide to provide further guidance on the range of definitions that could be used to describe wellbeing.

Explore different aspects of wellbeing via the Wheel of Wellbeing.



  1. O’Connell, G., Deaton, A., Halpern, D., and Layard, R. (2014). Wellbeing
    and Policy. London: Legatum Institute.
  2. Swan, P., & Raphael, B. (1995). Ways Forward—National Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Policy National Consultancy Report.
    Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
  3. O’Connell, G. et al. (2014).