My best friend sent this quotation to me via Pinterest recently. It made me think about what motivates us day-to-day, what keeps us in love with every minute of our lives. What does that have to do with wellness? Definitions.
In her song Out of Habit, Ani DiFranco sings that “Art is why I get up in the morning but my definition ends there. You know, it doesn’t seem fair that I’m living for something that I can’t even define.” Ani is saying that she knows what motivates her every day and what keeps her in love with her life, but she struggles to define it. Wellness, like art, is an abstract concept, and so hers is a point well taken here.
Before we can be truly well, we have to answer two things for ourselves:
- What does it mean to be well?
- Why does wellness matter?
“Wellness,” despite its status as a contemporary buzzword and the many attempts to universally define it, is most effectively implemented when we define it for ourselves. In other words, we are most likely to achieve wellness when we understand what it looks like in practice in our own lives.
What does it mean to be well? For me, wellness is a state of finely tuned self-awareness. When I am able to identify what my body and mind need — sometimes it’s a green juice or a Chipotle burrito, sometimes it’s to go for a run or to take a nap, sometimes it’s exploring a new part of my city or taking a 20-minute silence break; sometimes it’s familiar and sometimes it’s obscure — and then meet those needs, I am being well. This sounds simple. Simple, however, is not the same as easy. To acknowledge and address mind and body needs, we have to be attuned to hear the need and be flexible enough to address it (more on this idea in future posts).
Why does wellness matter? Wellness for the sake of (abstract) wellness doesn’t go very far in practice for a couple of reasons. First, it’s sort of a tautology. If we have to define wellness for ourselves, then we cannot then say that it is valuable for those same reasons. We have to take it a little further, a little deeper, and say why that definition is meaningful, and how it fits in with our goals and self-constructs. I’ve decided that wellness is the practice of knowing and meeting my own mind-body needs; that matters because I know that I must be responsible for taking care of myself before I can be my best self, and then guide others to do achieve the same.
Crafting our idiosyncratic definitions and articulating what makes wellness valuable to us are the first steps to practicing wellness. Practicing wellness is to be in love with every minute of your life.