What is Health?
A Google search of the word “health” returns 12,300,000,000 results. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition is different from Merriam-Webster’s definitions, such as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit” or “the general condition of the body.” This disparity would lead us to believe that there is no real answer to the question “What is health?”
I believe that the answer is different for each individual. What I know is that health is a state of balance. It means that you are taking care of yourself, mind, body, spirit, in the best possible way to ensure optimal performance and frame of mind.
If someone is healthy, they are eating clean foods, close to the soil, mostly plants. They are participating in exercise regularly (at least five days per week). They are participating in some form of stress management, and taking care of their relationships. They are getting proper sleep for their individual requirements. They are drinking the proper amount of water. They are doing everything that they can for themselves, and their body is able to function optimally and perform the required functions to maintain homeostasis.
This feels like such a huge mountain to climb if you are not already at the summit.
It also sounds very scientific, and my personal true definition of health is someone who feels good and is happy, however, in my experience, I know that it really means so much more than that. Happy and healthy people do more for themselves than they do for others, and it leads them to living happy, healthy, fulfilled lives. Happy and healthy people understand the value of caring for themselves first, and how that can lead to their caring for others.
Knowing what I know now, I can say confidently that coaching people towards an attitude of healthcare can save them so much more than money -- it can save them years of stress and anguish, of frustration and disappointment. It can save them from hurting, both physically and emotionally. Once a person has crossed over into a disease state, it is much more difficult to “fix” the problem. In any situation in life, is it not more practical and successful to act from a place of proaction, rather than reaction?
I decided to pursue a master’s degree in health and wellness to give me a better understanding of how disease develops, so that I can help people to prevent the disease, or at the very least to manage it at onset. It is my hope that I can help people to feel empowered in their health, instead of at the mercy of our diseased healthcare system. I was raised by my grandfather, and when I was 17 years old he was diagnosed with lung cancer and emphysema. Towards the end of his life, from his hospital bed, he said, “A hospital is no place for sick people.” Those words have stayed with me for the last 20 years. If my grandfather had honored himself and his place in this world, then he may never have been in that hospital bed. He was right -- a hospital is no place for sick people. The truth is that it is no place for anyone to begin with.
After a three year battle with cancer, my grandfather finally succumbed to the disease. He underwent chemotherapy, which caused him to lose weight and hair at an alarming rate. He was operated on three times, each time they took another piece of one of his lungs until he had only one half of one lung left. He was on an oxygen machine. He lost all muscle tone and we had to call the fire department one day to help him to get up off of the bed. My grandfather did not deserve that end to his life. No one does. My goal in life is to help others avoid my grandfather’s fate.
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