One of my absolute favorite things to do is to teach classes/ facilitate groups. And I often start out with asking... What is "Healthy" to you? I have people write this down and while the answers vary, I almost always hear these 2 things....
- "Being a perfect weight"
- "Eating salad and chicken"
Well I am here to tell you... I see those things so far from true optimal complete health. Those are what society has programmed us to think of when we think of healthy. Did these come to mind for you? OR something similar? Or something different?
So what is healthy? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as: “A state of optimal well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”
Optimal well-being requires a balance that comprises the whole person. When you hear the word optimal you may associate it with the word perfect; however, I think you’ll agree that no one has perfect health and having the expectation of perfect health will likely just set you up for failure which may lead to feelings of guilt and in turn increased stress which will further lower your optimal health. So let's just think of optimal as most desirable or most realistic ability for satisfaction.
Healthy to me is this....a word that carries heavy judgement, subconsciously expressing that if we aren't "healthy" we are bad. Therefore, I try to not utilize this heavily weighted word; but rather just focus on health as a whole or maybe use the word healthfully (but I am cautious to what context I use this word). However, I can speak easily to what health is to me... ultimately it's an expression of living our life through a continuum of healthful choices that fuel our mind, body, and/or soul. It's having joy with our food and respect with our body that lead to loving our food, loving our bodies, and ultimately loving our life.
I am curious, within this context. What does optimal health mean for YOU? There is no right or wrong answer. This is completely individual to YOU! And within each stage of life this may shift for you (just as it does when you were a child - when you were a newborn, you were not expected to be 4 feet tall or able to walk). So what feels in alignment to you? Or maybe what currently feels out of alignment for you? Our human brain so easily recognizes negatives and what doesn't feel good to us. This is great to notice these things because the opposite can help you identify what is likely optimal for you.
Let's dig into this a bit deeper.... HOW DO WE ACHIEVE OPTIMAL HEALTH? What all goes into this? While this is completely different for everyone, here are some things to consider...
Healthful mindset. Accept where you are right now. Show appreciation for yourself, your past experiences, and current experiences.
Healthful food nourishment for either your mind, body, and/or soul. We often believe we can only eat for our body if we are "eating right" but we need to also listen to our mind and our soul. The ultimate optimal goal would be food that SATISFIES our mind, body, & soul.
Healthful body movement. Body movement that FEELS GOOD to our mind, body, and soul. And body movement that connects our mind, body, and soul. It is not just jumping on the treadmill and zoning out. Ask yourself: what feels good to me? And continue to ask yourself this.
Healthful environment. This can vary quite significantly and could even be broke up into their categories if that is easier. This could relate to household products, personal care, your work environment, and/or home environment.
Healthful relationships. Are you surrounded by people that support you, share your ideals, and in general bring out the best in you.
Healthful rest & sleep. This is all about quantity AND quality. If you are someone who regularly sleeps 4 hours a night, optimal for you may be shifting to 5 hours. Once you conquer that, you can set a new optimal health goal for 6 hours and so on.
Healthful self-care. Sometimes the categories overlap into this, but sometimes we need just a little more than that. Everyone is different when it comes to filling their cup. Some may find enjoyment in a hot bath, taking time to read a book, going to the beach, getting a massage, meditating, etc. Often this is last on our list, but it can be helpful to schedule it.
And lastly but definitely not least...LOVE. Do you have love in your life? Some may think of love with a significant other, but its way more than that... Do you express love from your heart in your way? This often is shown through our creative side. Or maybe with our kids, pets, or even loving how we contribute in this world. When this seems way to big of a task, start simple by noticing little things you love, like... "Ooh, I love that flower, I love the way the clouds look, I love that I can always count on the sun coming up," etc...
This may seem overwhelming, but try to keep it simple! (KISS - Keep it simple silly). As you go through your day, simply ask yourself...does this raise my healthfulness? If it is a no, shift towards something that will raise your healthfulness.
I am so confident that we all have the ability to strive for complete fulfillment of our healthfulness, it just takes small intentional steps towards what we consider our own optional healthfulness. And I heard recently that Tony Robbins believes...if we don't have health, what do we have?