Wellness: The Buzzword That Nobody Seems To Understand

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

For the majority of human history, most people were satisfied to live in the absence of disease or infirmity. With most children dying before the age of five and adults living to their late thirties, every day was something of a blessing. Wellness just meant staying alive.

After the second world war, though, the economies of developed countries changed. They became so wealthy that practically everyone could afford decent accommodation and many of life’s luxuries, like good food and personal transportation. What wellness meant began to shift. Capitalism had generated so much wealth and technology that most people expected to reach old age. It was becoming the norm.

Wellness, therefore, took on a different dimension. It wasn’t just about avoiding disease: it was living life to the full across a variety of aspects, including emotional experience.

The debate over what wellness is has raged on from at least the third century BC. The Greek philosopher Aristotle originally came up with the idea of eudaimonia - the notion that a person could exist in a perpetual state of happiness, health, and prosperity. Later the concept evolved into the idea of satisfaction and being happy with one’s achievements.

Now we have a multidimensional concept of what wellness means that extends well beyond the physical. Wellness, for instance, now involves our emotional and psychological stability and our ability to cope with the struggles of everyday life. It also includes social aspects; the extent to which we belong to a social group that we love. For some, there’s a spiritual element: the ability to give our lives meaning and purpose.

As health professionals on DaoCloud point out, wellness is about more than the body, the mind, and relationships. It’s also about economic welfare too. Not only do we need healthy bodies, but we must have the means to look after ourselves too and achieve a sense of security. Thus, wellness has become a broad concept, indeed.

Is striving for wellness a good idea? That all depends on your definition.

For some, wellness has led to a generation of a community of people who focus almost exclusively inwards, worrying about whether they have done enough exercise or eaten enough fruit and veg. For others, it’s about going abroad to “find themselves” - a euphemism for misery if there ever was one.

Wellness, though, needs careful definition. It’s not enough to optimize your diet and have plenty of money left over at the end of every month. It also has to encompass an ability to escape one’s own needs, desires, and impulses and instead focus on the outside world. Self-obsession is the opposite of wellness.

So how do people achieve wellness?

There are several tricks that you can employ. The first is to reach out and connect with others, both socially and economically. The more enmeshed you are in the community, the better the life you’ll have. The second is to practice gratitude for what you have. And finally, people who achieve wellness continue learning and embrace new experiences. They look for new opportunities and keep their lives moving forward.

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