Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Health is Not *only* the Absence of Sickness

Recently, I attended a focus group with a small group of women to talk about health. The group was asked the question, "How do you know your family is healthy?" The overwhelming response was because they weren't sick. I must admit, I was surprised.

Being healthy and well is so much more than "not being sick." Much like being happy is much more than not being sad. Or being fulfilled is much more than a good job or a good set of friends.

I've wondered, since the focus group, how we can expand the defintion of health and wellness so that it helps people reach higher and strive for more than "not being sick."

Maybe part of the global challenge to get people to take better care of themeselves is their definition of health is too narrow. In the land of "I'm healthy because I'm not sick" people wouldn't be as likely to make positive proactive choices before they got sick. Why would they? Let's face it, quitting smoking isn't fun so why would you torture yourself by trying to quit before your first heart attack? After the first heart attack, the story gets much different. If you want an incredibly inspiring story about health and cancer read about Kris Carr.

So, why should you work on your health if you're not sick? Because you'll feel better. Because there is so much possibility in life and so many things we can do during our lifetime and all of those things are easier when you feel well. Feeling well is (in my definition) having energy, passion and a sense of awe. It is believing in something and working to make it better.

I imagine a world where the vast majority of people report "feeling well." I imagine a world where, with all of this positive energy, we come together to solve the world's problems. Energy. Heatlhcare. Hunger. Disease. War. Well... why not?

"How far is far, how high is high? We'll never know until we try." From the Special Olympics Song.

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