What is wellness? This sounds like a pretty straightforward question. Wellness is the absence of disease. Right? In our traditional Western medical model, this would be the correct answer. Wellness has become a buzzword lately utilized by hospitals, insurance companies, corporations, and doctors to advertise and promote their particular enterprises. Buzzwords tend to lose a lot of their meaning due to overexposure. Think about “simplify” or “holistic,” both of which have also been diluted.
So what really is wellness? I see wellness as complex and multi-faceted. It involves actively seeking health, but not necessarily the achievement of total health. Who among us over fifty has perfect health? What exactly is perfect health? Can you have wellness and disease concurrently? Perhaps a better way to approach this would be to define wellness as wholeness. This is another one of my favorite words. It oozes depth and complexity, and we humans are deep and complex. Wholeness implies a completeness of mind and body as each of us exists now. It doesn’t matter if you have one leg or one kidney; you are a complete human being. Wholeness implies doing the best with what you have no matter what deficits are present. Each of us is a whole human being despite our deficits.
Seize this concept, and it will be an epiphany. Our society is constantly telling us through media of all types that each of us is incomplete in some way. We would be whole if only we wore the right clothes, took the right trips or owned the right car. Each of us is whole right now, as is. The “mind-body-spirit” that is each person is unique and whole at this moment. This is a difficult idea to grasp, as it seems to imply that no change is necessary. So what if you are 100 pounds overweight or never exercise. This is not the epiphany I’m going for at all! What I am saying is that in this moment you are whole the way you are. . . . and in this moment. . . .and in this moment. . . . .and so on. It is a matter of acceptance of the present in the midst of change, wholeness in the presence of imperfection. This is not the same as resignation, which implies no care to change. The more we are able to accept our present wholeness as is, the more we will see the way toward positive change.
Dr. Heather's musings about medicine, mindfulness and life.
Heather Krantz, M.D.
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