What does being healthy mean to you?
Is it a number on a scale, fitting into a certain jeans or dress size, being able to move through the world with ease and free of pain, looking a certain way or maybe just the absence of disease? According to Merriam-Webster.com, the definition of HEALTH is: "the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well". I like that second definition, that someone is thriving or doing well.
Based on that meaning, are you thriving? Do you live a life full of energy, free of pain, one in which you are excited to get out of bed each morning and pursue your purpose, one in which you have peace of mind and meaningful connections with family, friends and your community? If not, why not? I read a quote from a wise elder that said "It used to be that our bodies were active and our minds were still. Now our bodies are still and our minds are active". That says a lot.
Most of us understand the importance of "eating healthy" (although exactly what that looks like is hotly debated) and getting some regular exercise. We may be aware of the need to reduce stress and get enough rest. Maybe we think that taking supplements or drinking protein shakes or juices or eating enough kale will be the fast track to health. But how often do we think of being peaceful, of having purpose and meaningful work, of deep connections with friends, loved ones and nature, of helping others as integral parts of health?
Turns out that having - and pursuing - a purpose in life (it doesn't need to be grandiose although it certainly can be if you feel so moved) is a powerful indicator of a person's longevity. Volunteering or helping others in various ways is a sure-fire way to be both happy and healthy. Learning new things that interest you is a far more potent way to keep your brain healthy and preserve your memory and cognitive function than any pill. And yes, eating nutrient dense foods (Read this post to learn what those are), getting enough sleep (Read this post to learn how to do that) and moving your body every day are still critical components to long-term health and vitality.
Maybe it's time to redefine the way we think about health. Maybe we can start to raise the bar on what it means to be healthy from merely the absence of disease to something far more meaningful and powerful. Leave a comment below to let me know what your definition of health is.