What does “healthy” mean? In most instances, we think of health as being free from disease, injury, or pain. We also often orient the idea of health around the body-the physical, but more recently there have been strides to understand more about the complexities of mental health as well. Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological and social well-being.
But what does health really look like? And how well do we make that a priority in our day to day lives?
Some work out and watch what they eat, which is a general foundation for health, but IMO is the bare minimum. When we live in a world where so many people don’t even attempt to do the bare minimum, it can feel like we are ahead of the game when we incorporate these things regularly into our lives. But comparing ourselves to others as a way of gauging our own health fails to develop the connection or insight on our true depth of health, or the nuance of how health is cultivated and maintained differently for us as individuals.
Also the idea of being free from disease, injury or pain as the common benchmark for good health has the focus on the wrong aspects in my opinion… Each of us experience those things differently (ie: everyone’s threshold of pain is different & subjective), and not everyone is able to recognize more subtle cues as the early signs of health being compromised. We are also socialized to “play hurt”, or have busy lives where we prioritize other things as being more important, so ignore or diminish the messages that tell us when aspects of our overall health are at risk. We become distracted and disconnected from what a true picture of health looks like.
And collectively, we model these habits to each other, which reinforces this perspective.
Instead of thinking about health in terms of the absence of disease, injury or pain (all negative consequences), what if it was instead about cultivating and striving for things like:
Awareness (mindfulness)-when we cultivate a sense of awareness of not only our own environment and the choices we make, but also the bigger world around us, we can more readily steer our path where we want it to go.
Balance-understanding the importance of multiple influences in our lives, and striving to cultivate a balance among them all prevents sacrificing certain needs over others that are all important for good health.
Connection-when we develop a deep connection to self, it is easier to become in-tune with the messages that lead us to good health and fulfillment. Also, developing connections with others (beyond being a basic human need and instinct) helps us learn and grow, and can help deepen that connection and understanding of self. The better we understand ourselves, the easier it is to choose the paths that keep us in good health.
Care & reverence-showing deep care and reverence for our bodies, our minds and our emotions develops a foundation for good health. All of these aspects must be attended to in order to create optimal health. How well we are able to do this is directly related to our sense of self-love, and connection to self. When we value ourselves, we make the time for important self-care rituals. The more connected and in-tune we are to ourselves, the more we understand what kind of care to give ourselves at different times, and under different circumstances.
So instead of thinking about good health as being the absence of perceived malaise, consider thinking about it in terms of regular rituals that cultivate the foundations above. Good health is not only about our bodies, but about our minds and spirits. When all are attended to, we can greatly reduce the pain, injury, and disease that we all face in life.
In love and light,