Bhutanese Views on Happiness and Subjective Wellbeing

Physical Health and Subjective Wellbeing

Subjective wellbeing (SWB) is how individuals assess their lives. It is a broad term that entails a wide range of factors, including health satisfaction, psychological health, physical health and overall satisfaction with life.

Within the public, many researchers have demonstrated that engaging in physical activities enhance several aspects of subjective well-being outcomes (Ditor et al., 2003). Physical health through exercise is reflected in the quality of life. Improved health outcomes require regular exercise. Various forms of physical activities exist for individuals who may wish to undertake and enhance their physical health outcomes. In fact, studies have proved that the outcomes appear to be robust.

It has been shown that the expected changes in quality of life take place over time. This ensures that changes can be evaluated meaningful changes observed. Therefore, researchers can conduct longitudinal studies to determine such outcomes on subjective wellbeing of physical activities and related physical health.

Overall, physical exercise is appropriate means of enhancing physical health and depression and other mental conditions and thus subjective wellbeing.

Mental Health

It is noted that good mental health has two critical elements. First, an absence of adverse “symptoms and positive signs of psychological and psychiatric functioning” (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013, p. 63) indicates good mental health. The second element of good mental includes positive determinants such as mental capabilities at high levels of adaptation, realizing fulfilling social relations, effective mental balance, resilience, self-esteem and control among others (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013).

According to Abdel-Khalek and Lester (2013), good mental health is vital for subjective well-being and SWB reflects positive aspects of mental health.

Happiness is considered as good indicator for mental health based on positive psychology. It relates to positive emotion, general life satisfaction and lack of anxiety and other mental conditions. Subjective wellbeing also accounts for happiness, contentment and other positive mental status indicators.

Subjective wellbeing for mental health can be evaluated on a continuum with various ranges in which extremely low rating indicates cases of mental ill health such as severe depression and anxiety while higher ratings show genuine contentment and happiness (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013).


Positive subjective wellbeing at work can be achieved through various elements of work. First, work engagement reflects positive state of mind shown through dedication and vigor (Bakker & Oerlemans, 2011). Employee engagement results in improved performance, which leads to recognition and success.

Happiness at work also relates to subjective wellbeing. Happiness, as previously mentioned, reflects good mental health. It has been shown that happy employees are highly productive and find satisfaction in their duties (Bakker & Oerlemans, 2011).

From a subjective wellbeing perspective, job satisfaction shows high-level of work pleasure. Satisfied employees demonstrate high-levels of pleasure, positive emotions, but reduce aspiration due to contentment.

Positive psychology for subjective wellbeing requires effective work/life balance.

Negative outcomes of work that subjective wellbeing focuses on include workaholism and burnout. Workaholism shows inner drive to work and achieve expected goals. Employees may also experience burnout, which shows poor subjective wellbeing and therefore low-levels of pleasure from such engagement.


Intelligence focuses on people who accept themselves, aim to attain personal goals and actualize their abilities and demonstrate high-levels of contentment with life, themselves and other people have shown exceptional levels of wellbeing. Subjective wellbeing is vital for all these three aspects of intelligence.

Emotional intelligence ensures that people make the right decision and find effective solutions to their challenges (Divya & Chanchal, 2014). People with exceptional emotional intelligence can easily notice and control their own emotions and other people’s emotions and ensure that emotions are activated for the right reasons. This leads to more benefits than negative effects (Divya & Chanchal, 2014).

It ensures that one can adjust psychological, cope up with difficult situations, and ensure a balanced life and personal contentment (Divya & Chanchal, 2014). For subjective wellbeing, such people are usually successful, satisfied and often perform better in their tasks as they strive to achieve personal and organizational goals.


Studies have established positive association between religion and subjective wellbeing and other factors such mental and self-esteem (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013). Religiosity reflected life satisfaction, and subjective wellbeing could be identified through “happiness, joy, satisfaction, enjoyment, fulfillment, pleasure, and contentment” (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013, p. 63). Further, religion was associated with improved feelings of self-esteem, reduced risks of low self-esteem and possible depression (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013).

Among religious people, life satisfaction and happiness have been used as strong indicators for positive subjective wellbeing and hopelessness. Devotion and affiliation are fundamental aspects of subjective wellbeing.

Religiosity is viewed from various dimensions, which have diverse effects on well-being of individuals (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013). In this case, organized forms of religion have shown significantly higher correlations with subjective wellbeing. In addition, such beliefs are components of social elements in society and thus widely accepted.

It is noteworthy that some other studies have found negative correlation between religion and subjective wellbeing, but such studies are generally few (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013).


Many studies on subjective wellbeing on race have shown that variations exist between races and therefore race was a critical factor in determining subjective wellbeing differences (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2010). It was established that Blacks were less happy relative to their Whites counterparts, for instance.

Changes in race relations have impacted subjective wellbeing between Blacks and Whites. It is shown that over the past 35 years racial tensions have declines and well-being of Blacks has improved significantly. However, factors such as gender, area of residence, age, religious affiliation and income among others have profound influences over subjective wellbeing across races (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2010). These factors may hinder or enhance happiness gains and subsequently, affect subjective wellbeing.

Worries of race relations generally affect subjective wellbeing, specifically in minority races. Worries lead to diminish subjective wellbeing as depicted through life satisfaction and happiness. Such worries have significant impacts on both affective and cognitive wellbeing (Abdel-Khalek & Lester, 2013).


Variations exist on subjective wellbeing among different ethnic groups. Ethnicity is considered for evaluating subjective wellbeing because some researchers have argued that racial determinants are not effective in some instances and therefore hide critical insights (Neff, 2007). In most cases, discrimination, poverty and other elements of social exclusion influence subjective wellbeing. Thus, a focus should also turn on social inclusion or exclusion issues when exploring ethnicity and subjective wellbeing.

Different ethnic groups have mixed feelings about worthiness of their lives or daily life activities. For instance, dominant ethnic groups feel that most activities they undertake in life are worthwhile. On the other hand, minority ethnic groups have relatively lower scores.

Resilience is also a vital factor when assessing subjective wellbeing across ethnic groups. Some individuals are more resilient than others are. Low levels of happiness and anxiety are common in ethnic minority groups. However, factors such as happiness, anxiety and satisfaction with life among others are not static and are subjected to change.

Various ethnic groups may also perceive wellbeing in different ways and various factors influence their subjective wellbeing (Neff, 2007).


Stigma exerts negative effects on subjective wellbeing. It is depicted in the form of a lack of supportive social structures. It reduces subjective wellbeing. It reflects low satisfaction with life, lack of happiness, depression and anxiety. Stigma is associated with other health conditions such as HIV. That is, individuals who experience stigma may also have existing health challenges and do not get adequate support from social structures in society. Consequently, they are exposed to adverse outcomes.

It is shown that individuals with stigma may have increased risks of adverse health behaviors such as such as “medication non-adherence, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors and non-disclosure of HIV serostatus” (Sanjuán, Molero, Fuster, & Nouvilas, 2013, p. 709).

Stigmatized individuals tend to develop resilience by focusing on certain coping strategies. For instance, they may engage in avoidant behaviors such as denial or substance abuse. However, stigmatized persons require psychosocial interventions to cope with psychosocial distress.


Abdel-Khalek, A., & Lester, D. (2013). Mental health, subjective well-being, and religiosity: Significant associations in Kuwait and USA. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(2), 63-76.

Bakker, A. B., & Oerlemans, W. (2011). Subjective well-being in organizations. In K. S. Cameron & G. M. Spreitzer (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship (pp. 178-189). New York: Oxford University Press.

Ditor, D., Latimer, A., Ginis, A., Arbour, P., McCartney, N., & Hicks, A. (2003). Maintenance of exercise participation in individuals with spinal cord injury: effects on quality of life, stress and pain. Spinal Cord, 41(8), 446-50.

Divya, D., & Chanchal, N. (2014). Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Subjective Wellbeing of Employees in an Organization. International Journal of Scientific Research, 3(10), 479-482. doi : 10.15373/22778179.

Neff, D. F. (2007). Subjective Well-Being, Poverty and Ethnicity in South Africa: Insights from an Exploratory Analysis. Social Indicators Research, 80(2), 313-341.

Sanjuán, P., Molero, F., Fuster, M. J., & Nouvilas, E. (2013). Coping with HIV Related Stigma and Well-Being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(2), 709-722.

Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2010). Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress. Web.

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