A positive economic, psychological, spiritual and medical state are fundamental for living happily. Happiness is one of the most sought by the human being and in the modern society, but it’s now called well-being.

Objective or subjective, a high level of well-being means in some sense live positive experience, while low well-being is associated with negative happenings.

The correlation between well-being and positive psychology has been proven by many social scientists to be strong and positive. The more the brain has access to the negative, the easier it becomes, because that is what is more memorable. It takes more effort for the brain to remember the positive experiences because typically it is the smaller actions and experiences that are the positive ones.

When someone is experiencing well-being they are also experiencing several other things. It involves a sense of self-fulfilment, in which the social environment plays an huge role. When a child feels like they belong they are more likely to perform better in school. As well as accessing an education, ideally they need to learn how to believe in themselves and create purpose for themselves.

The consumer culture and its powerful marketing machinery promote hedonistic consumption as the main source of individual well-being, despite researches show that materialism does not bring happiness. The more materialistic people tend to be unhappier. Good social relationships, meaningfulness, understanding and empowerment in everyday life cannot be bought from a store.

Complexity in advanced societies brings, however, different and transversal meanings of wellness. The economic balance of the world is gradually shifting towards East. The fast-growing Asian economies have replaced the old industrialized West as the engines of the world economy. These rapidly growing developing economies are also aiming for higher well-being. They are likely to follow the energy and raw material intensive industrialization path of the West. Hence, the development of new, more sustainable solutions is an urgent global priority.

Despite cultural and contextual differences, innovative new solutions can spread around the world in various local adaptations and promote sustainable development – like the core ideas of the welfare society did during the postwar decades.

Indeed, it is the moral responsibility of the West to take the lead in the development of such solutions. A big opportunity for Finland and the other Nordic countries who already lead in many sustainability rankings.

The traditional perspective to sustainable development emphasizes a society’s resilience against downside risks. If we open up this perspective to a more holistic view of well-being, it leads to a more positive concept of sustainable well-being.

Societies should aim to foster all well-being needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Because what is now wellness could exclude the same state in the future.