Health. The most valuable asset we own, and the asset we fail to properly identify until we have lack in it. This is true of most assets though. We think most about what we don’t have. When we are short on cash to pay a bill, it is nearly all we can think about. When our car is in the mechanic or we are looking for a new place to live, the focus of life temporarily becomes how to navigate the situation. When we suffer physically, it impacts us greatly. If we are fortunate, the physical pain is temporary. A sinus infection, stomach flu, or broken bone might derail us for a short period of time, but we can keep on going. Those incidents are usually not enough to cause to reflect on health.
When we have health, we can pursue our dreams. Health gives us the capacity to focus on what we care about – building a business, starting a family, traveling the world or simply going to work to pay our bills. Health affords us the illusion of time. When we are healthy, energy is abundant and opportunity is still available. Tomorrow is promised, or so it seems.
Health can be taken from us all at once or it can dissipate gradually like a mist we watch vanish. A disruptive injury or a chronic illness diagnosis can change the trajectory of our lives. When physical health goes, we realize what we had. And too often, we lose the identity we think makes us who we are. Identity can correspond to our ability to ‘do’ – such as a job title or role. We see ourselves as an executive or a working mom, an athlete, soccer coach or an after-school volunteer.
Life becomes viewed through the lenses afforded by health.
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This is why we need to center our lives on wellness. Wellness is the foundation of health. Wellness has been packaged and marketed to us in ways that reflect visible impressions of health. Whole industries exist to sell us health. These include fitness influencers, health clubs, supplements, superfoods, vitamins, weight loss systems and advertising that tells you if your body is small and your diet is perfect you will be happy.
Health can be leveraged into other resources. Being healthy does matter. Personal dedication to physical health is also a privilege that requires stability in other areas of life; safe affordable housing, a living wage, and time. A focus on exterior metrics of health such as body weight and beauty ignores disparate conditions and rewards what is rare in a society experiencing social unrest, wage stagnation, and income inequality.
Wellness should never exclude health. Physical health and wellness are inseparable. We must steward our bodies well and prioritize physical health. We do need to eat fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and more home-cooked meals. We need to move our bodies to the best of our ability. Gyms and trainers and health products have a role. To be well, we need to care about our physical health. It is the asset that gives us the capacity to do all the activities we love, and even some of the ones we don’t.
Health is a contributing factor to wellness, but wellness is much more profound. Wellness does pay attention to physical health, but recognizes more is required. Wellness means knowing who you are and understanding your story (and working through the hard parts). It requires releasing yourself and others in forgiveness, as much as possible. When it does not feel possible, an effort is still there. Forgiveness interrupts cycles of pain. Speaking up is necessary for wellness. Advocacy is a matter of communicating one’s needs clearly, at times demanding justice for oneself and others when it is deficient.
Wellness builds bridges and allows one to be at peace with oneself. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to wellness. A person secure in who they are can make room for another who is different from them. Wellness understands the world is big and opportunity is plentiful. A leader that operates from a core of wellness will lead to inspire, motivate and develop others. An organization that is well is one that emphasizes communication and inclusivity. All of which are demonstrated to have a direct impact on profitability. It is no surprise that when we are well, we are profitable. Internal profitability equals prosperity. Financial profit that burns us out, exhausts us, and leaves us too tired for people and things we really care about is not as valuable as it seems.
Be healthy. Be as healthy as possible. But physical health is transient. Age will prove that even if life’s circumstances don’t. It is possible to be well for a lifetime, even when physical health suffers.
When we focus on wellness, life can be viewed through the lens afforded by character.
Do you want to learn more about how to live WELL? I wrote an ebook to help you.