Welcome to Well-Rounded!

by | Jun 8, 2021 | WR | 3 comments

An impartial as possible blog about Life, Science and Nature!

The purpose of this blog is to promote self-improvement, self-awareness, explore scientific curiosities and of course, appreciation of nature. Anything in the life category will be based on first hand experience. Nature may include art and history.       

What is being Well-Rounded?

Defined by the common lexicons, it is something that is pleasingly varied or balanced (Oxford) or one that has many different skills, abilities, or areas of knowledge. (Merriam-Webster)

Or is it as having experience in a wide range of ideas or activities? (Cambridge)

It is also described as a person with a personality that is fully developed in all aspects. (Collins)

Why are there so many different definitions as to what well-roundedness is? Which aspects could they be talking about?

Developed by psychology researchers Costa & McCrae, Digman, Goldberg and John & Srivastava are:

The main 5 aspects of personality:

  • Openness – imagination and insight
  • Conscientiousness – thoughtfulness, impulse control and goal-directed behaviours
  • Extraversion – excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and emotional expressiveness
  • Agreeableness – trust, altruism, kindness, affection etc.
  • Neuroticism – sadness, moodiness and emotional instability

Or, is it the 3 aspects theorized by Dr. Sigmund Freud:

  • Id – Strong Impulsive Need
  • Super Ego –Strict Social Etiquette
  • Ego – Mediator
Sir Charles Snow argues that closing the gap between humanistic and scientific traditions is necessary to have well-rounded or wise leaders.

Another take on well-roundedness is the balance between mind, body and spirit, together or alone. This perspective will be used to discuss concepts further on.

Mind

It is the ability to adapt to a situation or problem by connecting and applying different areas of knowledge in order to gain control of, or solve a problem. Having a large knowledge base within your specialized field both theoretical and practical.

A lot of times this means having a strong logic center, strong knowledge base and self-awareness.

In this example, the scientist would need to find a balance between practical and theoretical knowledge and practices to be considered rounded.

Scientists, mathematicians, engineers and architects are a few which come to mind for this category.

Body

It is beauty, staying in good health, possessing strong physical prowess (good hand-eye coordination, ability to apply yourself physically etc.) and partaking in a balanced diet.

This can be a genetic factor; however, it still requires good disciplinary strength to stay in good physical condition and to eat foods that have rich nutritional value. Even if those foods aren’t the tastiest.

Athletes fall into this category. Models, martial artists, gymnasts, sprinters, actors, the list goes on. To stay in top physical condition these people usually have strict diets, and keep active.

Spirit

Knowing one’s self, the essence of who you are, your character, your personality, your soul.  

Generally, this means having a very strong sense of self-awareness, honesty, self-control and the ability to be empathetic.

The Buddhist monks that meditate, who connect to their inner selves. They see all life as precious and are forbidden to kill even in self defense; are the most well balanced of spirit. There are other religious and spiritual peoples that are akin to the teachings of the monks, they would be included here as well.

We are human and no one is perfectly balanced. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find a balance within ourselves.

What is balanced for me is most likely not balanced for you, it’s something we learn to maintain as we grow.

There are many interpretations as to what makes a well-rounded person. There are also many variations of what well-roundedness is.

What’s the significance?

Depending on what we do in life, it is important to find balance in at least 1 of 3 of the mind, body, spirit aspects or a combination of them.

For any martial artist, the mind and body would need to be balanced, but the spirit can be unbalanced and they can still be exceptionally skilled.  

A well-rounded Chef would be strong of mind. They would possess a vast knowledge of flavour combinations, have knowledge of chemistry, biology, time management and math, and would be able to apply this to their culinary art.

But they wouldn’t need to be well-rounded in body or spirit to be considered at exceptional levels.

The hockey player mentioned here would require a balance between mind and body to be considered rounded for that sport.

In today’s society, being a well-rounded person is having knowledge about most common things, keeping a balanced diet and/or having a good physical regimen, and just being neighbourly, helpful and kind. That’s all 3 aspects, most people have at least 2.

This is useful to adapt to random events and solve any problem you may encounter. Like changing a flat tire, comforting a sad friend or maintaining a workplace dynamic. The more well rounded you are in all 3 aspects the more things you can potentially deal with or learn. Similarly, you will also know what you cannot deal with and to call someone who can.

How do you become more well-rounded?

The key to becoming well-rounded in a way that is balanced for you, is self-awareness.

If you are self-aware, you have the ability to see yourself objectively and from there would determine what is needed to become more well-rounded, in a way that serves you.

This can be as simple as critically reading a book on a subject, learning a new skill, seeking out a teacher or mentor, or healing from serious mental or physical trauma.

Once you figure it out it’s repetition, repetition, repetition, until it becomes second nature.

This of course can take many years to accomplish and is entirely in your own hands. This process is not without its difficulties.

The Balance Struggle

Canadian psychologist Thomas Hurka discusses two concepts which interfere with the pursuit of balancing your needs to become more well-rounded.

Dilettante’s disadvantage – spreading your focus across multiple activities will not achieve much in any.

Costs of Concentration – One who devotes themselves to one activity can easily become fatigued or even bored.

Hurka conceptualizes that dilettante’s disadvantage is strongest at lower levels or towards the beginning of one’s pursuits, while the costs of concentration are strongest at higher levels or when one has much knowledge on a subject.

Finding a balance to be the most productive requires self-awareness and constant self-analysis of your habits.

What is meant by the quote above in todays vernacular, is transferable skills.

Most concepts teach basic skills that can be used to gain more skills or knowledge in different areas. It is up to the individual to discover how their basic skills can be transferred to another area of interest.

Take away

There seems to be varying degrees to what well-roundedness is.

Whether mind, body or spirit there is well- roundedness on a professional level, and a personal level. On a partial level and a whole level.

Although most effectively seen in individuals, a well-rounded collective is a higher-level form of balancing well-roundedness across lives.

This balancing across lives is useful in a large corporate or industrial setting, where there needs to be large scale collective cohesion across multiple sectors. (Media, Policy, Workplace Dynamics…etc.)

For instance, very few large organizations have a well-rounded structure. There is often a front heavy focus, on PR media and sales, while the actual driving force of these organizations see little to no appreciation, often earn the lowest in wages, have to physically show up to work, even in the face of a global pandemic and are often subject to more physical labour and demands than the other sectors within it.

As the world changes, these organizations will have to focus more on the areas they have been ignoring to become well-rounded, to stay in the game. However, multi-life balancing within a collective is difficult, and would require an impartial recipient to guide the process. 

Well-roundedness is also not limited to one’s moral center. You can be good or evil and be well-rounded, it depends on what serves you best. 

What do you think well-roundedness is?

Do you consider yourself well-rounded?

Tell me in the comments below!

Citations

DeYoung, C. G., Quilty, L. C., & Peterson, J. B. (2007). Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(5), 880–896. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.93.5.880

Hurka, T. (1987). The Well-Rounded Life. The Journal of Philosophy, 84(12), 727-746. doi:10.2307/2026589

E. V. Subbotskii (1989) The Personality. Three Aspects Of Investigation,
Soviet Psychology, 27:4, 25-49. https://doi.org/10.2753/RPO1061-0405270425

Millet, J.A.P. Body, mind, and spirit. Pastoral Psychol 1, 9–16 (1950). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01741621

DuS., G. (1961). The Well-Rounded Man. Science, 134(3488), 1393–1393. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.134.3488.1393

Oxford Languages and Google – English. (n.d.). “well-rounded” Retrieved from https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/

Well-rounded. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/well-rounded

Well rounded. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/well-rounded

Well-rounded definition and meaning: Collins English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/well-rounded

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