Research on psychological well-being and its links to health has flourished in recent decades, signaling an important shift toward studying human strengths and resources. This article briefly details a eudaimonic model of well-being (Ryff, 1989) and examines the proliferation of research growing up around it. Evidence is summarized on the protective benefits of well-being for health, measured in terms of lower profiles of biological risk (e.g., inflammatory markers, cardiovascular risk factors) as well as reduced risk of disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s, stroke, myocardial infarction) and longer length of life. Eudaimonic well-being has also been linked with salubrious gene expression profiles. Given these health benefits, interventions to promote well-being (both in clinical and community contexts) are briefly noted. Future directions include the need for more rigorous longitudinal inquiries, including in diverse cultural contexts. The arts and humanities offer promising new directions for studies of well-being and health, while, paradoxically, negative experiences also need further inquiry. Encounters with life adversity are relevant for deepened understanding of human resilience. Alternatively, focusing on prominent forms of contemporary malevolence (greed, corruption) offers a route for illuminating how the well-being of many can be undermined by self-interests of the few in positions of power and privilege.
Keywords: Eudiamonic, well-being, health benefits, humanities