Week 3: A final area of focus

Wow, I’m here already. My final topic for thesis is well-being, with a focus on psychological and social well-being. Reflecting on last week, I think this topic was always the one; it's the one that energizes me, I never get tired of, I personally resonate with, and have the most knowledge in.

Well-being. Pretty broad huh? Could be so many things! I started asking my self — what is well-being and how do you define it? The term is being used in different contexts, and for different things. I spent a lot of time trying to find the right terms and themes within well-being that encompass the areas I want to focus on, but I found that there’s no one perspective or clear way of defining or breaking it all down. The definition of well-being is continuously evolving and gets more nuanced with time, as we discover more about the human psyche. While one might think well-being is mainly mental or physical, it is now being further broken up into many more parts.

CDC categorises well-being into the following types:

  • Physical well-being.
  • Economic well-being.
  • Social well-being.
  • Development and activity.
  • Emotional well-being.
  • Psychological well-being.
  • Life satisfaction.
  • Domain-specific satisfaction.
  • Engaging activities and work.

Honestly, researching further led me into a rabbit hole of many terms and many perspectives. For now, I have decided to focus on these two aspects of well-being:

  • Psychological well-being: This includes the ability to have a sense of purpose, self-acceptance, self-reliance, personal growth, and self-actualization.
  • Social well-being: This includes the ability to have good relationships, meaningful connections, and have social stability.

Over the next week, I will try to focus on either or find a way to group them. I will also be thinking about which of the two contributes more to ‘collective well-being’ and has a greater ability to drive more collective change.

Getting perspective on my theme(s)

I spoke to 3 people last week to get some high-level thoughts about my topic(s) and whether/how they resonated with it. These people fell into the broader category of my potential users.

Speaking to people was SUPER useful, as I learnt so much about my many assumptions, besides the other useful perspective I received.

Here are my key takeaways from the conversations I had:

  • 2 out of 3 people didn't understand most of the terms I used (which are my themes), and in fact, felt bad about not knowing them! Learning: Convey themes/ask questions in a more relatable format as my themes are hard to grasp. I also learnt that people don’t know as much as I thought they did (even though I didn't expect them to know all of it). This has posed a new challenge for me altogether: awareness, and also made me think: am I choosing the right kind of topic? Should my customer really be a person or an organization?
  • Not having verbal clarity myself on some of my sub-topics didn't help when my interviewees needed clarification. I realised I needed to have a more clear understanding of my topics before I start asking people about them (or maybe not?). Learning: Do more research, structure my thoughts, and plan my questions.
  • After giving my interviewees clarification on the different themes, I found that the topics were very relatable and were very well received! My interviewees felt energised after our conversation and wanted to learn more about the topics we spoke about. Learning: my themes have the potential to resonate with people (so far).

Lots more to learn. This week will be about finding structure and clarity within my topic through more research and interviews! Looking forward!

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On a journey to become a more intentional designer. Currently @SVA IxD, NYC

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Poonam Patel

Poonam Patel

On a journey to become a more intentional designer. Currently @SVA IxD, NYC

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