Maintaining inner wellbeing and creating social impact – Insights from the Delphi Study
14 March 2018 - Aditi Shenoy

In our efforts towards global sustainability and creating a positive impact in the world, we often lose sight of our inner wellbeing and social sustainability. To create a more efficient and sustainable environment in our workspace, it is important to understand how we live and work together along with the outcomes produced in business.

Impact Hub and The Ford Foundation have partnered with the Wellbeing Project and TerraLuna Collaborative to build an international online learning community focussed on understanding inner wellbeing, its barriers and supporting factors, as well as the personal outcomes by increasing wellbeing.

From the initial study of people working in the field of social change, we can see that people show complex and complicated emotions towards their personal and professional lives. Being caught up between and managing these ‘two lives’ can cause distress. Another factor is whether we prefer staying in one place or moving around. Keeping work dynamic with traveling could help us to break the boring lifestyle, however, too much of moving around could lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed.

From the responses received, we can begin to understand that the barriers we face to finding inner wellbeing fall into four different dimensions of physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual.

Interestingly, when it comes to discovering the forces impacting wellbeing, the results are polarized:

  • internal (i.e. motivation, anxiety) and external (i.e. from an institution or organization)
  • an event leading to our growth and development vs. an event causing a limitation in our potential.

The study summarized a list of 24 potential barriers. The top 10 have been listed here:


Being aware of and understanding these barriers can help us to think of wellbeing as a habit that can be developed like any other regular action.

The study also resulted in a list of factors for bringing about inner wellbeing.

The feelings of love, support and safety ranked the highest in helping the participants of the learning community feel more at peace during their routine.


Around 85% of the results suggest that the act of receiving and giving love is emphasized as being the most important positive support for achieving healthy inner wellbeing. Cherishing existing relationships and building new ones can help us to feel more at peace with ourselves. We’ve all had that moment where simply talking about a bad day with a friend or a loved one seems to magically alleviate the stress of the situation we’re in.

Taking care of your health through diet and exercise also supports your wellbeing. It is easier said than done, but developing a work-life balance and healthy lifestyle is the golden mantra to managing yourself and your relationships both at work and at home.

Lastly, communication and expression appear to be fundamental as well. Being able to be expressive about your thoughts and emotions not only helps you to build connections with other people, it also builds trust and creates positive vibes in your life. Highlighting Aristotle’s age-old principle, ‘Man is by nature a social animal’, having it any other way is just not how we are meant to be.


Aditi Shenoy is a graduate student in health informatics focused on integrating value based health care with social sustainability.