Wellness. What is it, exactly? Taking vitamins. Eating veggies. Sleeping when we have pneumonia. Avoiding sugar, sunbathing, and the occasional all-nighter that I am pulling to write this post? (You are reading the words of a woman who lives for and almost always gets her 8.5 hours of Z’s.)
Maybe it is some of these things, but these things do not comprise the whole of wellness. Wellness is so much more. And it is better done together.
What Arianna Huffington writes rings true (http://bit.ly/changehealth2016), and most seem to agree – paying attention, accepting our limitations, slowing down, and resting are measures of wise leadership. No one can carry the weight of the world.
However, I wonder if we have permission to pursue wellness wholeheartedly. Most systems in business, politics, healthcare and education do not offer a framework that supports it. These industries expect and prize independence, aggression, competition, and “winning.” We push ourselves to the edge. To what end?
Without question, and with common sense, there are universal human needs: sleep, healthy food, positive relational community. Yet the question remains: If leaders practice self-care, will media attack them for the first skipped beat (remember this story)? Or if they rest, might they skip fewer beats? Their capacity to respond with wisdom, grace and tenacity might increase. More people might even be inclined to follow their leadership.
It is up to you to discover and sustain your own wellness, and it is up to our leaders to do the same. Living life well means leaning into the thriving, life-giving parts of our work, society and culture. It does not mean we set aside our ambition or sense of purpose or drive. It simply means attuning to our human needs as they arise, instead of ignoring the signals our body provides.
Some have found the delicate, integrated balance it takes to sustain wellness – of body, mind, and spirit. We can look to them to inform the systemic change required for us to prioritize wellness on a global scale. Maybe, just maybe, we can shift our expectations of what it means to be successful, productive, and growth-oriented. Arianna Huffington is beginning this work with Thrive Global. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched a Culture of Health initiative. People are beginning to wake up.
Any such change, individual or systemic, requires a positive experience that enables our brain to say "it is safe to change, to slow down, to sleep, to let this day go." Without that experience, change is nearly impossible. We remain in survival mode, yet have a hard time surviving.
Challenge yourself to be an agent of change for wellness – for yourself, your neighbors, your loved ones, your city and beyond. Be part of a global effort to be better together. If you can do this, you are willing to place a higher value on the work it takes to pay attention, practice acceptance of human limitations, and extend affection toward yourself and others than you do on plunging head first into burnout.
I believe change toward a culture of wellness is possible. One step at a time.
Better together starts with you.™
WaterstoneGLOBAL sees everyone, everywhere, living life well - a global transformation of communities through integrative, holistic approaches to wellness. Through our consulting services, we engage social sector clients in processes to define their brand and strategic vision, and solidify an infrastructure that can move their wellness-related missions forward. Through our customized, interactive learning opportunities, we are committed to helping you explore new ways of thinking and doing that tap into your unique capacity to live life well. We partner with leaders in integrative therapies, fitness, mental health, health and wellness, faith-based healing and more, to help YOU build your capacity for greater productivity and enjoyment in life - to live life well.
Learn more at www.waterstoneglobal.com.