What is ‘health’?


I’d say most people’s resolutions after Christmas involved getting ‘healthy’ in some shape or form.

It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.  With a number of high profile and wealthy celebrities passing away this month from cancer like David Bowie and Alan Rickman, it’s evident that when it boils down to it, true wealth is indeed our health.  But what does ‘health’ even mean?

The dictionary describes health as ‘being free from disease or ailment’.  But as someone diagnosed with a chronic disease, Crohn’s disease, I find this definition quite disheartening.  Just focusing on this definition of health, I end up feeling disappointed, frustrated, stressed and a bit of a failure as, like it or not, I may go into remission but I’ll always have the disease.

Some people just view ‘health’ in terms of physical health.  But when do you actually reach ‘health’?  When can you say ‘I’m healthy’?  Is it when you are a particular number on the scales or size of clothing?  Is it when you are at your peak fitness?  Is it when you can lift a certain weight and run a certain distance in a certain time?  Or is it when your bloods are all within accepted ranges?  It’s a very individual thing.

And what if you have physical fitness and eat the cleanest, most ‘perfect’ diet but you are miserable due to rotten relationships or a stressful job?  Would you still be ‘healthy’ with those toxic situations in your life?

I see ‘health’ as being more inclusive and encompassing than just the dictionary description above.  I feel true health is really about the balance of mind, body, emotions and spirit and being able to live life to the fullest potential.

With this definition, I see that health is more than just physical health and the absence of disease.  Rather than being down on myself for having a chronic disease,  I see that living a life with lots of joy, pleasure, connections and meaning is just as important as ‘being without illness’.  I also find that a positive by-product of working on achieving a healthy mind, emotions and spirit is possibly improved physical health also.  A happy bonus!

So while I may never be ‘without disease or illness’ I firmly believe that I can be ‘healthy’ and achieve ‘health’.

What do you think?

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