Wellness

We often hear this term and it seems to be used in different ways.

     One person, Charles B. Corbin, provides this definition: “Wellness is a multi-dimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of  life and a sense of well being.” From this definition it is clear that  this concept means our being able to live in a sound and overall constructive manner.  Yet, there is more to wellness .  This idea  points to living an integrated life in which we live as fully as possible in all realms, i.e., in the physical, relational and spiritual dimensions of life.   What wellness emphasizes, therefore, is living wholistically.  But exactly what does this mean and how do we live this way?

     To begin with, I believe it means that we live a life as aware as we can be of  the whole world  in which we live.  Essentially, in a wellness perspective we understand ourselves as fully as possible from within ourselves---who, what, we are physically and emotionally---and, at the same time,  from the viewpoint of understanding as fully as possible the world  in which we live.       In this kind of living we need to be committed to the world and others while committed to our healthful self-care.

     Wellness proponents also lift up a second dimension of what it means to live wholistically: we live this kind of life investing ourselves in a constructive, positive manner, seeking to affirm life.  Again, it needs to be emphasized that this affiriming outlook has to be consciously pursued on our part for us to live in this affirmative manner. From a psychological point of view, a relatively recent emphasis has been growing that  dovetails with  wellness thinking.  Positive psychology focuses on identifying and utilizing our inner strengths, personal resources and good feelings that we can use to live in the best way possible.  It “is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.”  In short, positive psychology, challenging much of contemporary psychology that focuses on what is wrong with us, pursuing our understanding of what is best in us.   We, then, are led to implement this understanding in living a more positive, we can clearly say, wholistic life.

      Accordingly, in both the wellness view and that of positive psychology, we are challenged to live in a way that underscores that we are whole people, we are not just organs or thoughts or feelings or persons working in this or that way, or living here or there apart from others.  No, we are whole people, people living on multiple levels in relationship always with all aspects of ourselves and the lives of others in community.

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