Trends will never escape us. Things come into popularity and then leave almost as quickly. We all know the present trends; I don’t need to tell you what they are. Whether fashion, housing, economic, education, etc.; they began long before we were born and will continue long after. It’s truly nothing special; just part of life. One of these trends, however, is what brings us here today: wellness.
Wellness is a fairly modern trend, beginning in the 1950’s. Sure, wellness roots date back to our earliest civilizations: mixing herbs for medicinal purposes, eating raw and healthy foods, and building strength physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Global Wellness Institute suggests that wellness took hold in the United States in an informal way when physicians and thinkers shaped our conception of wellness today. Currently wellness is a major movement and industry in the United States and many other countries.
I don’t say this to be negative. Trends can be extremely positive and educational. Trends are the reason we learned why shoulder pads should never come back and why buying bonds can be a safe investing option. Wellness trends have taught us the right foods to eat, healthy types of exercise, and ways to improve our mental and spiritual health. With any trend, it’s important for us to know where our information comes from and truly discern what is good and right for ourselves. With any major trend, there can be negative sides as well and distortions of well-meaning intentions. The GWI “defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” The categories that the institute breaks wellness into are physical, spiritual, mental, social, emotional, and environmental.
I like the idea of wellness and holistic health. I think it’s incredibly important to pay attention to in ourselves and even in those we love. I also think the GWI nails it with the categories. I can’t think of any categories to add that would aid us in improving our health. In my thinking of how the institute defines wellness, I did find one major disagreement that I have: I don’t think they go far enough. These categories scratch the surface, but we must go deeper. Wellness is not the end, so what is? Wholeness.
So, what is wholeness? Dr. Jim Schroeder in his article, The Pursuit of Holiness is the Pursuit of Wholeness – So What Are We Missing? says,
Years ago, I felt called to write the book Wholiness: The Unified Pursuit of Health, Harmony, Happiness, and Heaven, for two reasons: One, I really believe that the pursuit of holiness is synonymous with the pursuit of wholeness — if God created us in his image and likeness, then surely that includes our whole being (physical, psychological, social and spiritual), not just our religious self. But the second reason was that while I felt that the explicit Catholic practices — such as the sacraments, Mass, adoration and outward prayer — were essential to our being, it was the implicit life that largely determined how we lived out the totality of our faith.
I never really thought much about my health in my adolescent life. It was always kind of taken care of for me. My parents ensured I ate well, went to church, and I played tennis for many, many years. Then, in college after a rough freshman year, I only focused on my mental and spiritual health and really didn’t care about my physical health at all. Early in my college years, I fell in love with the Catholic Church after many years of rebellion and dove in head first. I don’t regret that for a second as it needed to happen, but in those years I did neglect my physical health. I don’t attribute that to my interest in the Church, rather to a young college student with no interest in working out. I gained more weight than I’d like to admit and sat around wishing it would just go away without putting in any of the work. It wouldn’t be until much later in my life that I realized my mental, spiritual, and physical health had to work in unison. If I truly wanted to be holy, I had to work on my whole self. This realization did not come easy by any means. No, there were some health scares, nights of confusion and sadness, and many tears. But it all brought me here.
Tangibly speaking, I believe my wholeness is achieved by surrounding myself with people who point me towards Truth, spending daily time in prayer, eating well, sleeping enough, and ensuring that my daily activities are life-giving even when they don’t feel like it at all. I agree with Dr. Schroeder that my holiness is synonymous with wholeness and is attained by following God’s will for my own physical, psychological, social and spiritual being. God created us as body-soul composite beings. Why would He do this if he did not want us to show great care and gratitude for both our body and soul? It only makes sense that if we are created in His image and likeness, body and soul, that to know Him, we must know and value how He created us to be – our whole selves.
Of course I am far from holy and far from whole. I can write and preach wholeness until I’m blue in the face, but the truth is, I am still trying to understand it myself. The important thing is that I desire it, and I’m trying to attain it. I created this site for people who connect with this idea as I do and who want to journey along with me. It is a growing and developing idea, but God willing, it will provide others with a sense of community and direction to pursue their own wholeness that will only lead to one place – the heart of Christ.