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Reimagining Wellbeing: 1-2-3 Wellness as a Neurobiologically-Based Approach to Human Flourishing


Today, society is facing a collective onslaught of mental and social challenges which include increased instances of depression, anxiety, bullying, and suicide. An interconnected approach to wellbeing, as this paper presents, reimagines these problems not as separate issues that are effectively addressable through band aid solutions and isolated initiatives, but rather as the manifestation of interrelated root causes. This multiphase, mixed methods study, which included 154 students and 12 educators, explored the effectiveness of an integrative approach to wellbeing called 1-2-3 Wellness™ and helped identify themes and propellants of wellbeing.

Four fundamental findings rose to the surface within this study. First, the 1-2-3 Wellness™ program is effective in propelling wellbeing among students and educators with mindfulness outcomes realized and specific increases in social and emotional learning (SEL). More broadly, the program serves as an illustration of the power and potential of integrative approaches to wellbeing and has application for families, schools, organizations, and communities. Secondly, five essential elements of school wellbeing were identified: safety, connection, routines, purpose, and choice. Thirdly, the paper introduces the concept of collective limbic regulation to refer to the dynamic which occurs when healthy micro interactions between a group of people helps group members cultivate and sustain a state of wellbeing. The paper suggests that collective limbic dysregulation, rather than regulation, is at the root of many of society’s growing problems, and that intentional efforts to cultivate collective limbic regulation hold promise for initiating solutions. Lastly, based on the findings, along with other cutting-edge research, wellbeing is reimagined with a new definition: the expression of interdependent systems of connection working in harmony. Along with the aforementioned findings, this new conceptualization offers a new lens to view societal problems and potential solutions related to wellbeing. Such a reimagined lens leads to the conception that selfless-actualization, rather than self-actualization, is the epitome of human flourishing and wellbeing.

The paper concludes by discussing implications of the study and by offering ideas to support policy makers, researchers, and educators in navigating future efforts to promote wellbeing in communities. Ultimately, we reimagine wellbeing through a lens of human flourishing and connection, and discuss paradigm shifting implications of this new lens for society moving forward.

Keywords: Wellbeing, Wellness, Schools, Communities, Families, Social and Emotional Learning, Mindfulness, Behavior, Neurobiology, Essential Elements of School Wellbeing, Integration, 1-2-3 Wellness™, Collective Limbic Regulation, Human Flourishing

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