Have you ever been astonished when an individual responds to inquiries about how s/he is doing with, “I am well,” despite significant pain or serious disease? In these types of situations, we might think, “Oh she’s trying to keep a positive outlook; he’s hoping for the best.”
If we are honest with ourselves, more often we tend to be critical, privately thinking that this person should just acknowledge that s/he is struggling, deal with reality, “Stop frontin’!” It’s easy to embrace the popular cultural viewpoint focusing primarily on one aspect of the self—the physical self, that which can be seen. It’s the same perspective that may overvalue aesthetics and physical appeal while minimizing internal characteristics and traits. But what about the Spirit and/or Soul of a person? Is it possible for one’s Spirit and Soul to be well even in dire circumstances and challenging life experiences? Are some people electing to attend to that which cannot be seen, to those things that may actually be more salient to them and to their survival? Can you feed the Spirit, nurture the Soul, and celebrate life even in the face of the most adverse situations?
Undoubtedly, yes! However, first we must adopt a more whole and less reductionist view of ourselves. We are more than just our bodies, with or without its frailties, or appearance, or skin. These are aspects of our being that don’t necessarily define us. They don’t represent the essence of who we are. Parts of the self may be encountering very challenging circumstances and yet one’s Spirit and Soul can thrive. It’s the duality of wellness. If we recognize that a person may present as physically healthy and strong, and yet be suffering emotionally, conversely, one may actually be well and have Lupus or Parkinson’s (pick any feared condition). This is the paradox of being well with illness.
The challenge for us is to embrace more consistently a wider perspective on wellness, one that is multilayered or multidimensional. Are you emotionally well? Spiritually well? Financially well? Imagine how rich our conversations could be, how connected to each other we would feel if we truly expressed interest in all aspects of the self when we dialogue with each other. I am not suggesting that we have to examine these intricacies each time we meet, or share all of this with everyone. But wouldn’t it be nice to expand our thinking about wellness, be less superficial with each other, and be more health-promoting in our exchanges? One of the more apparent benefits would be to reduce isolation and increase connection.
Today, I encourage you to be well in more than just one area. Are you well? Is your soul well? Indeed, I am well.
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