Flow the wu-wei way: A thematic analysis of charity runners’ experience of wu-wei in enhancing wellbeing and flourishing
There is increasing interest and research into non-Western perspectives on wellbeing and ways of flourishing in different cultures. This study builds on this by investigating the Taoist concept of wu-wei, translated from Chinese as ‘non-action’ or ‘actionless action’, through the experiences of ten runners (age 40 to 63; four identifying as male and six as female) who run for charitable causes and how this contributes towards their wellbeing. Semi-structured interviews were conducted then transcribed, and four core themes and eight subthemes identified using thematic analysis. Analysis showed that the four core themes for participants to achieve wu-wei were experience of suffering or adversity, being fully focused on the present (with an element of mindfulness), having a shared experience with the running community, and adopting a broader perspective on life (including in meaning or purpose). By accepting their experiences of suffering or adversity and pursuing pro-social activities, such as running for charitable causes, participants used mindfulness through running to develop a broader perspective on life and attain wellbeing. The findings indicate that the Taoist concept of wu-wei can be applied in positive psychology when manifested as a key facet of running as a positive psychology intervention suggesting its relevance to the wellbeing literature. This study highlights the importance of embracing cross-cultural approaches to wellbeing by looking at non-Western perspectives and their application to the global population.
Copyright (c) 2022 Wendy Roberts, Dr Candan Ertubey
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. The license prevents others from using the work for profit without the express consent of the author(s). The license also prevents the creation of derivative works without the express consent of the author(s). Note that derivative works are very similar in nature to the original. Merely quoting (and appropriately referencing) a passage of a work is not making a derivative of it.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).