Adaptive Living

Psychological well-being refers to the extent to which one: 1) is satisfied with their life and its various domains; 2) generally experiences interest, joy and contentment (versus disengagement, depression and anxiety); 3) is functioning well (i.e., good energy and attention, behavioral and emotional control, meeting goals with a sense of purpose), and 4) is living in an environment that meets core needs and offers opportunities and challenges for growth 5) in accordance with foundational or universal human values.

Adaptive Living Across Five Systems of Adaptation

  1. Identity and Justification

  2. Emotions and Emotional Functioning,

  3. Relationships and Interpersonal Style (Influence matrix maps process dimensions)

  4. Coping and Resilience,

  5. Habits and lifestyle: Health, Wealth, Impact

Identity and Justification:

This refers to the narrator portion of your mind. It consists of your conscious beliefs and values about who you are and why you do what you do, as well as your worldview. It is sometimes called the “ego” or “I”. The process by which people interpret situations, explain events and make attributions is crucial to their functioning. Those who are more flexible and complex have more adaptive capacity than those who are more simple and rigid and absolute in how they think about the world.

Emotions and Emotional Functioning

This refers to your general mood (positive or negative) and the feelings you often experience (i.e., fear, joy, anger, hope). Emotional functioning refers to how someone processes emotions, especially negative feelings, and the extent to which they can do that adaptively or not.

Relations and Interpersonal Style

Relations refer to the number and quality of relationships a person has, both currently and in the past. Crucial here is the extent to which a person has a sense of “relational value”, which refers to the extent to which the person feels known and valued. Interpersonal style refers to one’s preferred way of interacting, and way of managing relational process elements. For example, is the person very agreeable and easy going and avoids conflict, or are they critical or competitive and toughminded.

Habits and Lifestyle

Habits and lifestyles refer to the day-to-day patterns of living that the individual is engaged in. Five domains of habit that are important to consider are: 1) Sleeping; 2) Eating; 3) Exercise; 4) Substance use; and 5) Sexual activities. (These habits can be remembered via the acronym SEESS). Lifestyle refers to day-to-day living, standards of living, general rhythm and patterns, general levels of stress and resources. Balanced, healthy lifestyles tend to afford opportunities for work, love, and play with purpose.

Coping and Resilience

Coping refers to how people adjust to stressors and deal with adversity. Many people avoid problems and try to escape from negative feelings. A healthier strategy is to use negative emotion as information about needs and goals and then engage in active seeking for solutions. Resilience relates to how quickly someone bounces back from adversity and is contrasted with being fragile and vulnerable to being set back by negative events.