When it comes to how we think about our health, I believe there are three primary paths or mindsets we can choose rom. All three of the paths I will be discussing are useful, have value and also have their respective limitations. However, I believe if we will follow the wellness path I will be discussing shortly, we will be spending much less of our time, energy and money on the treatment and prevention paths.
Let’s take a look at these paths or mindsets and see how they apply to our health and the various aspects of our lives.
THE TREATMENT OF DISEASE PATH
The first path or mindset we can call the treatment of disease path. This path has as its primary purpose to treat acute injuries or eliminate symptoms of illness. For example, when I was four years old, I fell off of my bicycle and broke the two bones of my lower leg. My parents took me to several doctors. X-rays were taken and a cast was applied to my leg. After about twelve weeks of care my leg was just about back to normal. This is an example of the value and appropriate application of the treatment of disease path. This path can also be called the, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” path and we all know people who fully subscribe to this philosophy. Perhaps you’ve heard of a worker who accidentally had their hand cut off by a piece of machinery only to have the hand surgically reattached and after a few weeks of physical therapy the hand is nearly fully functional. Thank God we have such awesome emergency medical care in this country. Everyday this care saves lives and returns people to normal or as near normal as possible. As great as this path is it also has its limitations. Is it possible that this debilitating injury could’ve been avoided in the first place? For example, could the worker who had their hand cut off be taught how to use the machinery in a safer manner? Is it possible the machine or surrounding work area was not maintained properly and this contributed to the worker’s injury? These questions and many more are not even considered at this level of thinking. A new level of thinking is necessary in order to address these questions.
THE PREVENTION OF DISEASE PATH
The new level of thinking is the prevention of disease path.The primary focus of this path asks the question: How do we prevent disease before it occurs? Let’s use the above example of the injured worker. A company that is concerned about the welfare of its employees (and the bottom line of the company) will have safety trainings and injury prevention workshops for its employees. It has been proven through years of research that these workshops reduce injuries on the job and save companies money and could save our entire economy millions of dollars per year. This is an example of how the prevention path could be successfully applied in the real world.
Aspects of the prevention path that we hear about frequently are things like quitting smoking, losing weight and avoiding fried foods. Another part of the prevention mind set is annual tests and screening procedures such as chest x-rays, cholesterol tests, blood pressure tests and mammograms. The idea behind these tests and check ups are to catch the disease process early enough so we can switch gears to the treatment level and have a more successful outcome because the disease was caught in its earliest stages. The prevention path is a vital aspect of the
overall health care puzzle however this path has its limitations. Do annual tests enhance the health and performance of the body? The answer is no. Having tests to check if we are sick does absolutely nothing to improve our health. At best, this approach is the path of early detection. I believe in order to improve our health and maximize our health potential we need a more advanced level of thinking. I call that thinking the wellness path.
THE WELLNESS PATH
The wellness path is different from the first two paths in one primary way: It is NOT focused on disease. This path is focused on promoting health. The primary focus of wellness is on excellence in all areas of life because wellness is wholeness. Health is wholeness. There can be no wellness without addressing all aspects of life; physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual etc. Unfortunately, our current approach does not consider the whole person or the wholeness of life. The beautiful thing about this level of thinking is that just by changing our minds we can eliminate many problems.
For example, if we were raised with a wellness mindset there would be no need to stop smoking because smoking doesn’t exist in the wellness mindset. People in the wellness mindset don’t even think of smoking. In fact, if the world was truly well there wouldn’t even be any cigarettes to smoke.
The best example I can think of to illustrate the essence of wellness comes from Walt Disney. Disney had a philosophy about excellence in terms of keeping his parks clean.Walt had a philosophy of cleaning clean windows. Walt wanted windows cleaned even when they were already clean because he understood that any standard that was lower than a clean window was a dirty window and that standard was not acceptable to Walt.
So how do we clean “clean windows” in terms of our health? We adopt the wellness path. In order to do this a mental shift must first occur from what we were led to believe about how to take care of ourselves. We must understand that we are responsible for our own wellbeing. Not the government. Not our insurance company. Not the stars. Second, we must start to actively seek out and apply strategies that will enhance the health and performance of our body and not merely treat disease after we get it or detect it early.
Wellness is an active, dynamic lifestyle. A few examples of wellness strategies you can begin on your own would be regular exercise, doing something you love that is purely for fun everyday, spiritual practice, helping someone in need or giving your significant other hugs and kisses for no particular reason. You can also visit a wellness practitioner or spa. Get a massage or facial. Have a spinal check up with a wellness based chiropractor. Get on a regular chiropractic program to reduce the stress that accumulates in your nerve system and spine. It is simply the smartest and most effective strategy you can invest in.
So, as we wrap up another Juniper Berry issue, what are you thinking? Your thinking determines the actions you take, the direction of your life and your ultimate destiny. I understand this wellness idea may be new to you. But in reality it isn’t. We understand wellness when it comes to high performance cars and race horses. Many people take much better care of their cars, homes or lawns than they do their own bodies.
I hope I’ve inspired you to think, but most importantly I hope I have inspired you to act! Get on the wellness path— today!
Until next time, take care of yourself, take care of your community and live your dreams. I leave you with a quote
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”