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Furthering the conversation on health and wellnessPosted: August 21, 2012

By Carol Gordon

Have you noticed that dictionary definitions of health and wellness (see August 4 article “In Conversation: What is Health and Wellness”) are quite different from what we in our society have actually come to believe health to be?

We do not tend to consider the whole person and the whole of one’s life when we speak of health.  Instead we have come to view health simply as “the absence of disease.”

Surprisingly, the written definitions take a holistic view of health: “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (adopted in 1946 by World Health Organization (WHO).

Why the difference? What does this mean?

Perhaps it is because of this difference between the definitions and our societal view of health that “wellness” emerged as a concept and became popular in the 1970s.

In its definition of wellness, the WHO states it to be “…the realisation of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfillment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings.”

The Wikipedia further states it to be: “a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being…the Wisconsin-based National Wellness Institute (views wellness) as ‘an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.’…(furthermore) wellness is a view of health that emphasizes the state of the entire being and its ongoing development…Wellness can also be described as ‘the constant, conscious pursuit of living life to its fullest potential.”

So pursuing wellness makes health possible.


Carol Gordon is a wellness consultant, writer/photographer, artist and entrepreneur. She has called the Columbia Valley her home part-time since 1981 and full-time since 1999.                                                                                                           


One Response to Furthering the conversation on health and wellness

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