wellness,philosophy, sickness, vitality, lethargy

A Philosophy of Wellness

A Philosophy of Wellness

Itís difficult to believe that Health By Design is in its tenth year of publication. Thatís over 100 issues and over 200 separate articles. I founded Health By Design for a specific reason: to give people sound advice on how to effectively restore and maintain their health.

There were other health related publications available when I began to publish and many others have appeared since that time. Nearly all, however, are newsletters that comment on current articles or highlight new treatments or exciting supplements. I did not find in 1999 nor do I see today another monthly publication dedicated to helping individuals understand the basic mechanisms of disease and healing. I am not aware of other publications that clearly outline the specific steps to take when confronted with a particular health challenge.

The information presented in Health By Design is, to a very great degree, timeless. Nearly all of the articles I have written are as applicable today as they were when they were first published. Thus people have an entire library of articles to which they can refer when a friend, family member, or they themselves experience a health challenge. The unifying theme of the articles is, in a word, wellness.

Wellness is the opposite of sickness. If sickness is defined as a disordered, weakened, or unsound condition, wellness can be defined as an ordered, strengthened, and sound condition. Sickness and wellness are polar opposites, and there is a vast distance between manifest sickness and optimum wellness. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum of health, as illustrated in figure 1.

The Health Continuum

Sickness -----------------------------------------------------------------------------Wellness

Figure 1

Being well is quite different than not being sick. As I was explaining this concept to a group of individuals a man made this comment: ďYouíre absolutely right! I had my heart attack at 8:02 on a Thursday morning. I didnít realize it at the time, but I wasnít perfectly well at 8:01.Ē

The gentlemen felt well at 8:01. He thought he was well at 8:01. In actuality, he was very sick . . . the time bomb that was ticking in his diseased coronary arteries was seconds away from exploding.

The condition of oneís health is never stagnant. At any point in time an individual is either moving to the left or the right on the health continuum line. He or she is either losing ground in the battle against disease or advancing toward optimum wellness, which I define as the state at which body, soul, and spirit are in harmony and the bodyís healing mechanisms are operating at peak efficiency.

It is important to understand that sickness and wellness cannot be determined accurately by observing a personís physical condition. A person who appears to be robust health may actually be very, very sick. The man who related the story about his heart attack is an example.

A few years ago Rosalie and I met a friend for lunch. He looked great and he told us that he was feeling the best he had ever felt in his life. He did not know and we did not suspect that a deadly cancer was silently advancing within his body. It was discovered shortly after our visit. He died less than three months later. Although he was extremely sick, he believed himself to be in the best condition possible.

On the other hand, an individual may have a debilitating condition but be functioning in the range of optimum wellness. Someone who is known to have cancer, but who has instituted the changes necessary to engage their bodyís innate healing ability would be in this category. The same would be true of a paraplegic who is at peace with his or her condition and who is following basic wellness principles.

It is important to consider ways of moving toward wellness on a day to day basis. Perhaps that will mean changing an eating habit. It may mean altering activity level. It could involve adding a nutritional support, switching to a non-toxic cleaning product in the kitchen, or decreasing the amount of time spent listening to the news. Optimum wellness is not a destination; it is a quest. Daily choices determine how successful the search will be.

A second indicator of health status is the lethargy/vitality scale. This is different from the sickness/wellness scale. While the sickness/wellness continuum is largely physical in nature the lethargy/vitality continuum describes an individualís emotional or spiritual state.

The Lethargy/Vitality Continuum

Lethargy --------------------------------------------------------------------- Vitality

Figure 2

People who rank high on the vitality scale are enthusiastic about life. They are excited about what each day has to offer. Their energy level is high and they are optimistic. A normal child is a great example of someone operating high on the vitality scale.

In contrast, people at the other extreme are lethargic. Nothing excites them. Those who are the most lethargic have decided that things are never going to get better, so they are simply going through the motions of living.

Used together, the sickness/wellness and lethargy/vitality scales can provide tremendous insight into an individualís state of health. This is shown in figure 3.

Improving Health                             Optimum Health
Lethargy -----------------------------------------------------------------------Vitality 
Approaching Death                              Declining Health
Figure 3

An individual who is functioning at a high level of wellness and vitality is achieving optimum health. The goal of each of us should be to operate within the right upper quadrant of the diagram.

The man who related his experience prior to a heart attack and our friend who appeared so healthy just before he learned that he had an advanced cancer are examples of people who are functioning in the right lower quadrant. Their health is declining. They are sick, even though they feel well and appear to be in good health.

A person who has recognized that a challenge exists because of loss of vitality, but who has implemented changes that will result in moving toward wellness is in the left upper quadrant. Over time he or she should regain vitality and move to the right upper quadrant.

Individuals who are in the process of dying are those in the left lower quadrant. They are sick and know that this is the case. Rather than engaging in behaviors that have the potential of moving forward they continue to eat what they have always eaten. They continue to pursue the same daily activities they have always pursued. As their disease advances and their vitality wanes they lose hope and simply go through the motions of living.

Unfortunately, the end does not always come quickly. The world is full of people who died in their thirties and werenít buried until their seventies or eighties.

The goal of Health By Design is to give you the knowledge required to move to the outermost point of the right upper quadrant in the health diagram. It is to empower you to live life to the fullest and to keep your intrinsic God-given healing mechanisms working at peak efficiency.

© 2008 Wellness Clubs of America.com

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