Wellness Defined, part 1

Wellness is 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 will mean something different to each individual. It can even mean something else to the same person at different times, which serves only to further complicate the matter.

Let’s start with a definition:

Wellness: noun 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 number 1 – “The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” (emphasis added)

I wonder if they’re being intentionally vague? I mean, what does “healthy in body and mind” mean, anyway? That’s 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 weeks back. For the most part, I’m fine – my car is another story, suffice it to say I’m a big fan of the build quality of my Honda Fit – however I am dealing with some residual back pain. So right now in my life, I’m not “healthy in body”. On the other hand, meditation is going well and I’m in a good place mentally, so I can tick the box next to “healthy in mind.” Combine these two, and I consider myself to be well. With my good head-space, I’m able to navigate around the back issues just fine and get on with my day-to-day life – including walking and riding my bike. This outlook also allows me to begin strengthening work as soon as my back is ready, without any feelings of inadequacy or guilt about NOT working out now.

So being well includes a mixed bag of physical well-being and the mental clarity to see how to work with what you have. Maybe you were recently diagnosed with diabetes. Does this mean you are no longer ‘well?’ Not at all, there are ways to live well with a diagnosis of this sort. You may not be able to do all the things you once did, however by no means are your days of well-being over.

So what does all that mean for 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.

Paths that don’t work out are not failures. They’re simply 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 to well-being. Finding wellness is a matter of trial and error, and patience. Next time we’ll look at part 2 of the dictionary definition of wellness and see how even that doesn’t have one straightforward answer. From there we’ll dive into some of the myriad paths that exist for a person starting out on this journey to well-being.