What Is Generally Meant by the Word Wellness: An Introduction
Wellness equals personal responsibility: first one must decide to commit to a healthy lifestyle, one that is comprehensive and consistent. The only thing that typically prevents one from this state is the inability to take that first step. Though there is an endless amount of gurus, practitioners, books, events and diets, the reality is that wellness is completely in the control of the individual. No one and nothing can “make you well.” Instead, you must consciously decide to create wellness for yourself.
Wellness is as much a mindset, an attitude, a strength of focus, as it is anything else. While medical doctors prescribe drugs and address symptoms, an attitude of wellness in an individual might in actuality preempt disease. The choices that the person living a lifestyle of “wellness” makes all coalesce to form a preventive strategy, in effect. When one manages stress, handles issues of personal accountability, builds meaningful relationships, takes personal responsibility in terms of diet, nutrition, exercise and spiritual development, wellness is maintained.
How “well” you are depends in part on how completely you commit to these principles on a daily and hourly basis.
The Origin of the Term Wellness
Halbert L. Dunn M.D., Ph.D., originally coined the term “wellness” in a paper from June of 1959 entitled: “High-Level Wellness for Man and Society.” The article notes that Dunn “presents a conceptualization of positive health (high-level wellness) and indicates the ways in which he thinks it might be used for research[…]”.
Dr. Dunn made efforts to point out that so much of the conceptual basis of health in his time (and to a great extent, today still) was “turned in a different direction, concentrating fixedly on disease and death,” instead of what he felt was the proper orientation, towards a condition of good health. Dunn described wellness as being “not just a single amorphous condition, but […] a complex state made up of overlapping levels of wellness.” Dunn’s multi-level philosophy of wellness spoke a great deal to notions of personal responsibility, awareness of the environment and a pursuit of physical and psychological well-being through a commitment to personal mastery.