The Nature of REAL Wellness

With a REAL wellness lifestyle, you can create your own best-possible alternative to a hoped for Shangri-La in this life or the religious promises of one to come in the next, knowing that prospects for either are (approximately) between zero and preposterous.

If you were to go out with a microphone to a busy place, like Times Square in New York, and ask a random sample of passers-by this question, "What is health?," you would surely get a wide range of answers. If you asked 25 people, my guess is that only a few would volunteer similar explanations. Now imagine doing another random sample with this question: What is REAL wellness and how is it different from just plain old vanilla, or ordinary wellness? Half the folks might ask you a question right back, Wellness? What is wellness? The wellness movement is young. If you agree with my estimate of public innocence about the nature of wellness, REAL or the other kind, no need to be discouraged. The future, as they say, lies ahead. Let me offer a few ideas about REAL wellness - and the other kind.

Regular wellness is a lifestyle approach in seeking advanced states of well-being, physical and psychological. It has been broadly defined. Over the course of thirty or forty years, little consensus seems evident about the best emphasis, the major dimensions and so on. I myself, an early wellness promoter, have offered many definitions and multiple models of wellness over the years. REAL wellness, on the other hand, is a term that so far means pretty much the same thing to the few who have adopted it. REAL wellness begins with the foundation notion that health is both a philosophy and a physical state. Spas and the worksite wellness movement, as well as other institutions that offer wellness programs, have focused upon the physical state. In doing so, they have promoted not so much wellness, as prevention and medical testing, risk reduction and scattered holistic (otherwise known as alternative or BS) healing approaches.

Take spas, for example. They have focused on fancy pampering which is, of course, what the public expected, so no mean-spirited, vicious or withering criticism is implied. Simple contempt seems sufficient. The worksite wellness leaders have focused on what the medical establishment offered regarding the physical, namely, disease and illness detection programming. Now the time has come to introduce the next, very much needed level - the philosophy of becoming and staying well and living a life of high quality. This means REAL wellness - by any name you prefer.

The philosophy segment of REAL wellness begins with a certain perspective. This perspective takes in many elements, starting with the recognition that our individual state of wellness evolves over time. Preferably, this evolutionary change occurs in positive ways consistent with both natural and applied adjustments. Let's look further at these two forms of evolutionary changes. Natural adjustments are precipitated by such forces as the aging process and similar macro variables (e.g., environmental, social, and genetic realities). We have little influence over these areas. However, we do play a role in applied evolution.

Applied adjustments over time include the manner in which we process thoughts (our mindsets or philosophies), the feelings we manage (wisely or otherwise) and the choices we make. In the applied arena rests our prospects for a favorable quality of life based upon the reason capability we develop and apply, the exuberance we envision and experience, the bodily capabilities we nurture and safeguard daily with wise and disciplined choices (athleticism), the freedoms we celebrate and protect.