Wellbeing is big business. Americans spend billions of dollars per year on wellbeing-related products, services, and experiences. The Global Wellness Institute estimates the value of the global wellbeing economy to be close to $5 trillion. And it is projected to keep growing. The worldwide growth of this industry is a result of human progress and flourishing. More spas, fitness centers, green smoothies, yoga classes, meditation retreats, mindfulness apps, self-help books, and workplace wellness programs means there are fewer people struggling to meet their basic survival needs.
However, the way our society currently conceptualizes wellbeing and seeks to maximize it may ultimately be a barrier to human progress and flourishing. People tend to view wellbeing as more inward-focused than outward-focused, more about feelings than action, and more about today than the future. To have positive wellbeing is to feel good about one’s own life right now.