Throughout this month’s lifeskill, Wellness, we will spend some concentrated time on each aspect of what wellness means. Over the past 30 plus years much has been written and voiced about wellness. On previous occasions I have covered the tenets of wellness as described by John W. Travis, MD, MPH, as modified (with permission by Travis) by yours truly.
The first tenet covered was “Wellness is a choice…. a decision you make to move toward optimal health.” You were asked to write down your own Wellness Declaration. These questions were then presented to consider. At this moment, think about your responses before reading the next tenet of Wellness.
1. What one key barrier do you see right now keeping you from seeking, reaching, and achieving your desired wellness?
2. What first step will you take this week to resolve that barrier?
3. How will this action contribute to achieving your declaration?
4. Who or what do you need to include to succeed?
As you write down your declaration and responses . . . wellness is not only physical. It is multi-dimensional and holistic involving all aspects of your life.
The 2nd tenet is “Wellness is a way of life…a lifestyle you design to achieve your highest potential for wellbeing.” This is where you begin to make changes in your life that will impact you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Not one area of your life is left out as you declare and take action to seek, reach, and achieve wellness as a way of daily living. Yet, this change just doesn’t happen. Change is never a single event but a process. In part one, you made your declaration, identified one key barrier, and made your first step toward removing that barrier.
This brings you to the 3rd tenet: “Wellness is a process…a developing awareness that there is no end point, but that health and happiness are possible in each moment, here and now.” When committed to the process you not only experience greater health but also greater happiness in life. Yet, as much as we love when good things come our way, even improved health, we all know happiness cannot be sustained if we only “feel” happy when circumstances are going good.
Somewhere along the way when the bad stuff happens, we will be challenged to broaden our horizon in order to achieve and sustain true happiness. Recently, my husband and I watched a program entitled “Happy” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1613092/). Quoting Benjamin Franklin, “The Constitution only guarantees the American People the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” What do you choose to do to pursue happiness?
The film, HAPPY, takes you on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion. According to this fascinating documentary, we actually have happiness in our genes at a 50% set point or range. Even when bad things happen, we eventually return to that set point. Our circumstances (income, social status, where we live, age) only account for 10% of our happiness. The remaining 40% involves “Intentional Activity” which are actions you choose to do.
With intentional activity, making even subtle changes to that activity add spice to your life, thereby greater happiness. And what kinds of “intentional activity” you choose can be as varied as there are human beings on this planet of ours, no matter the circumstances. Whatever the activity, your body is also physiologically affected by the chemicals produced via your neurotransmitters. We are definitely fearfully and wonderfully made. Maybe our mind and heart need to cooperate more with our bodies.
We hopefully all know once you reach a certain economic level to feed and clothe your family, more money doesn’t bring more happiness. No matter your circumstances, happiness does help you work for and reach your goals, whatever they may be. Yet, the key to lasting happiness comes from having a good family, good friends, spontaneous times, lots of laughter, and lots of play with people you love.
Throughout this coming week reflect on what your daily life is all about. How do your activities support your wellness declaration, resolving barriers, designing a way of life you dream about, and enjoying the process as you become more aware that health and happiness happens with each moment in the here and now. You are then building your future with each of those moments.
The couple tenets of wellness to be covered next week will help you connect and integrate your own declaration and actions with your environment and hopefully provide energy for transforming you and even the world around you.