Why Watching the World Cup is Important for your Well-Being

 In Centre News, Mohit

I was beginning to get nervous. The Brazil-Croatia World Cup kick-off game was a just an hour away and I was still on phone call. I had been looking forward to this day since the last World Cup ended four years ago. I forget where I celebrate my birthdays, New Year’s eves, and anniversaries too (sorry Eliana 🙁 ) – but if you ask me where I was for the past 8 World Cup finals, you had better have some time on your hands!

With 30 minutes to start time, I was now driving with my wife (who’s Brazilian) and two daughters to a venue where people would congregate to watch the game. I had picked up my Macedonian friend along the way as I love having both sides represented – it really livens things up – and he’s the closest I could find to a Croat in my circle of friends.

It was now 10 minutes to kick-off time – my older brother was calling in from London. When he was four and I was born, my parents promised him I’d soon be his football buddy. Today, four decades later, we were doing a pre-game check in.  My Macedonian friend, coincidentally, was going through the same ritual with his brother.

If you hadn’t yet gathered, there is not much that gets me as excited as the World Cup. And as this month-long event kicks off, I’m reflecting on the ‘why’? Why is it that for someone who’s generally quite calm, the World Cup is such an emotional roller-coaster ride for me?  Four years ago, I wrote another blog post about the World Cup on the ‘Importance of playing’– but at that time I was not yet familiar with the acronym PERMA which captures key domains of human well-being in 5 letters.  A quick refresher:

P -experiencing Positive emotions
E –  being Engaged with what you do
R – having strong Relationships
M – feeling that your life has Meaning beyond yourself
A – having a sense of Achievement – getting better at things that matter to you.

So today, I’m no longer seeing this month as one of low productivity but one of high happiness.  To me, the World Cup highlights all of the characteristics of PERMA:

P – The sheer pleasure of being able to sit down and watch TV for 90 min. without guilt, knowing that one in four people around the world is doing the same, raises my positivity greatly!
E – Engagement: Being a player, watching the game is deeply absorbing to me – so much so, that time seems to stand still when a good game is on.
R – Relationships: The World Cup is inherently social – three billion people can confirm that!
M – Meaning – the opening ceremony gave a sense of how this event is a demonstration of our global unity. If you have not joined the 100 million plus viewers who’ve listened to the World Cup theme song, ‘We Are One’ , it’s not too late.
A – I definitely have gotten much better at justifying why I need to watch the World Cup – and this gives me a great sense of accomplishment! 🙂

So watching the World Cup is very important for my well-being and my guess is that it’s good for yours too!


Mohit Mukherjee is the founding Director of the UPEACE Centre for Executive Education. He facilitates the online course, ‘Designing Your Life: Innovating from the Inside Out’ that explores well-being more deeply.

Mohit Mukherjee

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