A few weeks ago I was a guest on the Pat McMahon Show, AZTV 7, Cable 13. It was a lot of fun - Pat is a great guy with a sense of humor and a talent for relating to people of all kinds. I was there to talk about ActiveRx a company that does excellent work with older adults - pro-actively working with them to optimize physical and wellness function. During part of our interview Pat asked some general questions about wellness and though I was happy to answer them as best I could in the time we had, they prompted some more detailed thoughts that I wanted to share in this post.

Wellness is a term that is hard to pin down - it always sounds positive of course - and perhaps people could use it accurately in a sentence - but what is it exactly? I Googled this once out of curiosity - and not surprisingly got thousands of hits! More surprising was the whole range of wellness 'situations' that came up - here are some examples.

The Wellness Revolution: How to Make a Fortune in the Next Trillion Dollar Industry, Marketing to the New Natural Consumer: Consumer Trends Forming the Wellness Category, Wellness Foods A to Z, Reconnecting With Nature: Finding Wellness Through Restoring Your Bond With the Earth, Digestive Wellness, Mystic Healers & Medicine Shows: Blazing Trails to Wellness in the Old West and Beyond, The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness: Feel, Think, and Live Better Than You Ever Thought Possible,

...and my own personal favorite "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wellness " - LOVE to get my hands on that one! I even found a Quaker Oats Cereal with the words "An Expedition Into Wellness!" emblazoned across the front of the packet. Wellness with fiber! Who would have thought it! So to go back to my original question - but what is it exactly? What is Wellness? Googling clearly does not help! History tells us that a man by the name of Halbert Dunn is acknowledged as the first author to use the term in his book "High Level Wellness" back in the '60s, and he defined it as follows

... an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable. It requires that the individual maintain a continuum of balance and purposeful direction within the environment where he or she is functioning.   
                                                                                                                                    Halbert L Dunn, M.D., Ph.D. “High Level Wellness” 1961

When I first came across this book and this quote as a graduate student, my first reaction was “Huh?” – and I haven’t travelled too far from that reaction even now! In the world of academia where I came from ‘Wellness’ is typically described as being made up of different ‘components’, or ‘dimensions’, the number varying according to which authority you are reading. The most quoted of these components/dimensions are: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and occasionally also occupational, vocational and environmental – check out the Wellness Wheel image above for one Wellness ‘model’. I’ll be writing more about wellness components in later posts but the point to make here is that wellness is a broad and perhaps indefinable concept that I would say is more of a journey than a destination, more of a process than a product. The Wellness Councils of America define Wellness as          " ...the process of being aware of and actively working towards better health.”  I actually think it is much more than that - but whatever our opinions, we can be sure of one thing-

Wellness is all about behavior – and lifestyle choices – and it’s always your choice.

So, loved the show – and thanks for the opportunity to Get Wellness down, Pat. Looking forward to our next conversation.


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