wellness: noun well·ness \ ˈwel-nəs \
the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal
When people say "get well soon" or "I wish you well" it's usually because you're: a) sick; or b) they're euphemistically telling you to bugger off.
The pursuit of wellness, for most of us, is entrenched in a subliminal belief that there is something wrong with us. You'd be forgiven for believing that only the kale smoothie guzzling, ultra-marathon running, bronzed, happy clapper with washboard abs who *eh-hem* just happens to be making a shit ton of money from aforementioned activities, is the embodiment of wellness. That's not to say that isn't wellness, but it's a brand of wellness that is rooted in the rise of consumerism. It's designed to make you feel deficient, as if something is lacking in your life that can be remedied only if you <insert activity that just happens to cost money or costs slightly less money on a monthly subscription>.
I'm about to let you in on a secret....
Wellness is not an end state; it is a spectrum *cue that dun dun sound from Law and Order*
When I say wellness is a spectrum, I don't mean the "on the spectrum" type colloquialism (although there are PLENTY of those in the wellness game). I mean it's fluid and it presents in many, many shades and is not a zero sum game.
Being well does not mean you are not unwell. And, if you are not unwell, it doesn't mean you are well. You could be a bonafide hottie on the outside - the type that motivates hundreds of thousands of people to double tap a picture of you on their phone and think: "that guy in his shorty shorts at the gym with the whey protein shake. Now that guy, he is doing well."
You know what? In reality, Mr Whey Protein is looking into a palm sized machine for validation of just how well he is. He ain't well.
Wellness is a conscious process of synergising a number of areas in our lives, none of which can be fully optimised without the other. When all these elements work together it's like the scene in the Matrix where Neo realises he is the chosen one.
Did Neo drink lots of turmeric lattes to get to that point? No, no he did not. Neo was like a slow advancing chrysalis that, in good time, realised he had everything he needed in the cocoon for the butterfly to emerge. He had some set backs, no doubt. But it wasn't until he shifted his focus inward and did the hard yards that he began to see who he was rather than who he wasn't. Some people just have it from birth. Those people later become the Dalai Lama. The rest of us struggle.
I wasn't always well.
Friends who have known me for a long time will remember I used to drink a lot, smoke a lot, party a lot and eat lots and lots of McDonalds. I had countless meaningless liaisons with boys whose names escape me (then and now). I stumbled out of clubs a funny shade of purple as other people would be out for a morning jog. I would light up a ciggy lest I be mistaken for those early rising health junkies. It was awesome and I had SO MUCH FUN.
Towards the tail end of those halcyon days, my life began to change. Although I believed it was getting better, it got much much worse. It started with an innocuous panic attack (I realise now this is an oxymoron...no panic attack is innocuous) which was swiftly minimised. I was super happy, right? I had all those happy photos of me on Facebook.
Gradually, I became more and more unwell and within a year of that first panic attack, I found myself not even able to get out of bed. My whole body was a dead weight. It took all my strength just to move from one part of my flat to another. I had completely lost my identity and questioned whether I had even had one to begin with. I was at the bottom of a very deep and dark well and I stayed there for a long time.
I can't recall which part came first. Maybe it was the change in diet, or the yoga, or the psychotherapy, or being around nature, or the meditation, or the gratitude practice, or the mindfulness, or the positive affirmations, or the unafraid and honest expression of love for people who inspired me and I really loved. It wasn't any one of those things in isolation that steered me towards my own path to wellness. It was the amalgam of all those things.
I became greater than the sum of all those parts.
I still struggle. I struggle all the time. But I have a healthier relationship with it now. For me, being well is about widening the lens so you can see things in context. It takes work to see things from that height, especially since most of our lives play out in a one metre radius from where we are standing at any given time. The painful irony about seeing the bigger picture is that the key to it is to look within. You have to know who you are and then like who you are or have the courage to change who you are.
Remember, you are all you need to get well.
Surround yourself with the things that make you happy and do things that make you happy. As you begin to cultivate more wellness in your life, you will notice good things start happening to you. That's not the result of some kind of "woo woo" law of attraction rubbish; it is simply that good things are amplified when you are well.
Stay well. Sleep well.