OK, it’s time to address the 900 lb gorilla in the room. What the heck do I mean when I say the word “Wellness?” It’s one of those topics – everyone has an opinion, yet nobody can make sense of it. Let’s change that.
This is the first in what will be a series of posts covering wellness and what it means for different people. Part of the problem is that wellness may mean something different to each individual. It may even mean something different to the same person at different times.
Let’s start with a definition:
Wellness: 1) the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. 2) an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases. (Dictionary.com)
Today I’m focusing on definition 1) “The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” (emphasis mine)
Are they intentionally being vague? I mean, what does “healthy in body and mind” mean, anyway? That’s kind of my point. What it means will be different for you, that guy over there, your next door neighbor – and me.
For example, I was in a car wreck a couple of years ago. For the most part, I was OK, yet I did have some back issues. So for several months, I was not “healthy in body.”
My meditation practice was going well and I was in a good place mentally, so I could tick the box next to “healthy in mind.” Combine these two, and I considered myself to be well.
With my good head-space, I was able to navigate around the back issues fine and get on with my day-to-day life. This allowed me to begin strengthening work as soon as my back was ready. I was able to do this without any feelings of inadequacy or guilt about NOT working out at the time.
So how does this apply to you, the wellness seeker? It means that before you can find well-being, you’ll have to pick a path to try.
Then you may have to try another path. And possibly another.
This seeking and experimenting is part of the journey to wellness. This falls under the “deliberate effort” part of the definition. In my example above, meditation is a path I tried that turned out to work quite well – for ME.
Don’t be afraid of self-experimentation. This is the best way I know of to narrow down the options and find the path that works, for YOU.
One of the things I harp on with clients is this, YOU are the expert on YOU. Not me. Not your GP. Not even your therapist (there is NO shame in seeing a therapist, as an aside). YOU. Every path you try will deepen your understanding and knowledge of yourself. Every bad habit you break, and every good one you start does the same.
Paths that don’t work out are not failures.
They’re paths that didn’t work out, you learn from them and then you move on to the next one.
To bring this post to a close, since every definition of wellness will be different there can be no one right path. Finding wellness is a matter of trial and error, and, of course, patience.
Next time we’ll look at part 2 of the dictionary definition of wellness. We’ll look at how even that doesn’t have one straightforward answer. From there we’ll dive into some of the paths that exist for a person starting out on their journey to well-being.