I was forced to really think about the meaning of health when I was preparing for a motivational talk about health at a happiness retreat in the Dominican Republic. What does health mean? What does health mean to you? How do you know if you are truly healthy?
If we look back to ancient philosophies, healers referenced an entire person before deciding if a person was healthy and what the proper treatment was. By entire being, I mean mind, body, and “spirit.” The thing is, human beings are complex, and although modern day medicine has brought so much great technology to prolong our lives, at the same time, things have been simplified into compartments. Now-a-days healthcare is disjointed and treatments are disconnected, so I wonder are people really feeling healthy?
For the most part, people believe they are healthy because they don’t have any diseases, they don’t suffer from mental illness, and they go about their day pain free without any problems. Sounds healthy right? If I were to tell you that these same people always finds drama in their lives, have dysfunctional relationships, can’t really keep friends, work at a job they hate, weekends are boring and look the same, they have the same routine, they lack inspiration to live the best life possible despite the feeling that something is missing. They know something has to change yet they resist- would you say this is healthy?
There is more to a person than just a body and a mind. The health of the body and the mind are measurable, yet there is more to a person than meets the eye and we can refer to this as the “spirit.” This is the part of a person that gets inspired, that lives life to the fullest without sabotaging oneself; this is the part of a person that can say, “I’m happy, my life is fulfilling.” To maintain the health of the spirit is to feed the spirit. This can come in the form of enriching experiences, spending time in nature, positive relationships, reading, spontaneity, laughing, and so on. All of these actions feed back to the brain, decrease stress, and result in a healthier mind and body as well. When you maintain the health of any part of your being, the other parts benefit as well.
To be completely healthy is to be happy too. Health is wellness and happiness in mind, body, and spirit. As a doctor, I’ve experienced many patients with random aches and pains where there was no medical condition to explain the symptoms. Somatization is recognized as a condition where people experience physical manifestations and seek medical help, but no tests or imaging find a physical disease to explain the symptoms. In these cases, it is generally attributed to a mental cause or a life circumstance like stress. It is quite obvious the treatment that would fix this right up is multifold and doesn’t even require prescription painkillers or Prozac! It starts with lifestyle changes such as:
-Being more active! Many people sit in front of the TV and computer screen for hours so even just getting out of your chair and going for a walk could make a huge difference in your day. Our bodies have muscles that love to be stretched and worked, I know this because we naturally release feel good chemicals like endorphins when we are active.
-Having a well balanced diet free of the processed and preservative-filled food. If your body is getting good nutrients it will stay healthy and disease wont even think about setting up shop in your body.
-Treat yourself to fun experiences aka enjoy life! Don’t wait until you’re retired or when you’re married or whatever you are waiting for. Life is happening now so go on and take advantage of it!
-Do more of what makes you happy!!!! Enough said.
-Find any reason to laugh! Laughter is medicine. More studies are being done in medical journals to really quantify the good effects smiling and laughing have on the body and various diseases.
-Surround yourself with loving, positive, supportive people. This is healing alone. People are energy. Everything is energy. So keeping yourself surrounded by “good energy” will continue to bring goodness into your life and make you feel good.
If you are lucky enough to not have any physical or mental illness, be grateful for it! And even if you do suffer from some ailment be grateful that there are other ways to bring health into your life that don’t involve more treatments or prescriptions. Being proactive about living life to the fullest and feeding your “spirit” will guarantee you feeling the healthiest you’ve ever felt in your life.