would like to begin this section with a brief questionnaire.
Please click on the button below to go to the How Long Will You
Live exercise, which we have adapted from Bob Allen's book Lifegain (1981).
You can simply do the work while you're on line or, if you wish,
print out the questionnaire, complete it, then return to this
the prevailing belief in our culture these days that being "well" is
the opposite of being "sick," the information which you have
just taken into account in the questionnaire is far more inclusive.
And it is not a new notion, either; a definition of "health" set
forward by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) (hardly your
basic radical group) way back in the 1950's is absolutely consistent
with this broader perspective:
state of physical, mental, and social well-being,
and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity
the W.H.O., being "healthy" meant something very different indeed
from having something diagnosable at a doctor's office. There
was much more to it.
Significantly later, Ken Pelletier (1980) defined this
expanded, inclusive view of "holistic health" as
of a lifestyle which is conducive to health maintenance and
In the same
study (1980), Pelletier listed the following optimal health and longevity
factors, in their order of most influence on persons based on the degree
of control that can be exercised over them.
what we eat
factors (physical & psychosocial)
Political & economic
we can exercise some control over a political climate by voting for
certain persons or ideas, or over the psychosocial environment in which
we live and work by behaving in a particular way, we would have much
more direct control over our health by making positive choices about
our personal physical activity, food choices, and stress management
as we mentioned at the beginning of our work with you, the most potent
health and longevity factor of all is what Pelletier calls "consciousness," or,
more simply, the careful paying attention to what is going on around
us, then taking that into account in our immediate and longer-term
are in charge of our consciousness. It's not a new notion by any stretch
of the imagination. Eastern cultures have had it as a central facet
of religious belief systems for thousands of years. And many thinkers
from around the world over the years have addressed it, including a
young man named Henry David Thoreau when he wrote
of a thing is the
amount of life required to be exchanged for it, either immediately
or in the long run.
would be a potent idea to keep in mind regarding all of our actions,
particularly if "cost" is considered in the broadest sense of
the word, and not just in monetary terms.
is the monetary cost of a particular behavior or course
is the cost to one's friendships, or relationships, or
self-esteem, or personal integrity?
is the cost to their soul?
it is in keeping with this broad perspective that a movement
promoting person's wellness has grown and flourished in
the United States during the last quarter of the 20th Century.
Some of the notions are new, but some are ageless. What
is unique about the wellness movement is its inclusive
nature, drawing on various fields of knowledge as diverse
as medicine and the martial arts, human behavior and exercise
science, in an effort to promote persons' effective functioning.
own definition of wellness (Hatfield & Hatfield, 1992)
and deliberate process by which people are actively involved
in enhancing their overall well-being:
and Detert (1981) described key components of wellness, including
a purpose in life
for oneself life's true joys and pleasures
effective and lasting motivation
One other way to get a handle on this general notion
of wellness is to consider it as a parallel to the more traditional "sick
or healthy" physical health continuum, with "not well" on the "sick" end
and "high level wellness" on the "healthy" end.
are parallel issues, but not the same. Look again at the wellness
components described by Curtis and Detert above. Would it be
possible to be physically healthy, at least in the short run,
and not have those four key issues in place? Yes.
Conversely, however, would it be possible to be terminally
ill, physically disabled, and mentally handicapped, yet still be very,
very well? Again, the answer is yes.
For us, wellness as a concept is where far more than stress
management skills and techniques come together to impact the life of
a person. As we noted in our definition above, it is a person's overall
well-being which needs to be addressed, nurtured, honored over the long
run for them to be a fully-functioning human being, regardless of their
For additional wellness resources, check out our Resource
section with special attention to the very inclusive resources available
through the National Wellness Association, but also including the written
work of Ardell (1986), Hettler (1984), Schafer (1996), Seaward (1997).
You as a teacher deserve the same kind of nurturant caring
for yourself as anyone else, and -- as we have noted throughout our work
together -- may need it more than people in most professions so that
you can be actively, creatively, and humanely present for your students
and colleagues who deserve nothing less than your very best. They're
counting on you, and you can count on yourself to do what is necessary
to be there for them.