What is Health?
By Dr. Sara Howard
The next thing to understand is what “health” is. I see so many people that want more “health,” but have no idea what they are looking for, so they fall for every fad that promises to deliver more health to them.
In simple terms, health describes your condition… or how well you are expressing life. If all of your parts are functioning at 100 percent, all the time, then we would say you are 100 percent healthy. Since we can only have the number of parts we have (we cannot add an arm at will), and “all the time” is a constant, then our health condition comes down to how well we are functioning. The better we function, the better our health.
How Do We Lose Health?
Stress is literally any force you encounter, and there is a universe full of forces out there. We categorize them as physical, chemical, or psychological in nature. These forces smack into your molecules every moment of every day, and without the second factor, your knight in shining armor, they will break you down like waves breaking rocks into sand.
Fortunately, unlike rocks, we have life, which resists and adapts to these universal forces, keeping us active. If our “life force” encounters “a stress” it can use for good in the body, the stress then has positive survival value. If the stress is harmful to the system, then it has negative survival value. The stress itself cannot determine if it is positive or negative. Only the individual life force can make that determination.
So it is life vs. stress. When stress breaks you down faster than life can build you back up, then you lose function…and therefore, health.
Your Health, Your Choice
While we may not always feel like we have a choice in the matter, we actually have more than we think we do. We can choose what foods we put into our bodies, we can choose to move or be sedentary, and we can choose to read an uplifting book or watch the 6 o’clock news.
The best choices are those aligned with our core values. Most, if not all, of the pain in our lives, comes from choices that are not aligned with our values. Then we have to clean up the cognitive mess that comes with cognitive dissonance as we strive to get our core values and our choices to be aligned.
Understand the Stresses
Physical: The basic idea here is to “be fit.” To start, you have to make sure the system is in proper order. You then have to use it appropriately so that it can be exposed to stress and respond. It’s important to do things you naturally enjoy, and it is equally important to allow time for the body to recover and have a plan for “building-up” the exercise over time. Avoid strange, man-made movements and activities that seem like unnatural movements. Walking is a great place to start!
Chemical: I think we all have a general idea about what is good for us and what is not. A good rule of thumb is, the closer a food substance is to its natural form, the better it is for you. Avoid known toxic substances, manmade fads, or foods heavily altered from their natural form. If the food label says “sugar” it isn’t man-made, but if it says Acesulfame potassium, the food is still sweet, but it is also man-made.
Psychological: The granddaddy of stresses. Our minds are constantly processing stresses from the past, present, and even the future. Unlike most chemicals, once you are exposed to a thought or idea (that comes with various brain chemicals), you aren’t in charge of when those chemicals fade out.
It’s important to do your best to expose yourself to positive, constructive forces on a consistent basis, and avoid most of the negativity that floats around our society. Many times, simply changing your perception regarding a stressful event can make all the difference in the world. Surround yourself with people who understand this principle and share positive, life-affirming ideas. Learn to be grateful for all your life experiences.
An Inside-Out Approach
We live in a high-stress society. Our ability to surround ourselves with positive life stresses and appropriately manage our negative life stresses will ultimately create our “health condition.”
Start by taking an inside-out approach to healthcare. Strive to maintain maximum function of your body, so it can fully experience life. Then, choose which stresses align with your core values and goals so that you can maximize your life experience. Seek healthcare providers who take an inside-out approach as well, and support you in creating the best life possible.