Monday, September 26, 2011

What is "Health" Blog 2

So, my friends, where does our search for the meaning of “health” leave us? Are we forever doomed to the realm of confusion and incoherence? Absolutely not! The truth is, I kinda set you up. (I know, I know, I can’t believe I did that either! J). Let’s see if I can know provide a bit more clarity on the health issue.

Take another quick read of each scenario (e.g., Bill, Georgia and Sam). What do you notice in these scenarios?  (HINT: think "mind-body-spirit"). Now come on, you can’t fool me…I know you didn’t reread the scenarios. Go ahead, do it now, and as you do, think “MIND-BODY-SPIRIT.” What do you notice about the characters in each scenario? How might using the elements of “mind-body-spirit” help you better explore each character’s “health?”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I notice that an element of “mind-body-spirit” is missing from each of our characters.

Bill seems to be “a-okay” in the area of “body” (i.e., exercise, diet, illness/disease), but not in the area of “mind” (i.e., emotional health) or “spirit” (i.e., values, morals, meaning of life, attempts at flourishing). How can a person be healthy if that person lacks emotional and/or spiritual health?

Georgia seems to be doing just find in the areas of “mind” and “spirit,” but lacks strength in the area of “body.” How can a person be healthy if that person lacks physical (i.e., body) health such as exercising regularly and making healthy food choices?

Sam seems to be developing very nicely in the “body” area of “mind-body-spirit” and reasonably well in the “mind” area of “mind-body-spirit” but is definitely lacking in the “spirit” part of “mind-body-spirit.” I say, Sam is doing reasonably well in the “mind” area because, even though he suffers from mild anxiety (a “mind” aspect), the anxiety stems from his undeveloped or underdeveloped “spirit.”

Before I continue with the blog, I’d like to digress for a moment. Did you notice anything else about Sam? Read Sam’s scenario again.

Yes, Sam is gay – and this was quite intentional. It was also intentional that I made Sam the character with the “spiritual issues.” Some readers – unfortunately – might assume that Sam’s “spiritual issues” are present because he is gay - e.g., “Well of course he suffers from lack of spiritual development. He lacks spiritual development because he is gay!” Whereas this could be true – we do not have enough information on Sam to come to that conclusion. He might be a very well-adjusted gay man but be struggling with spiritual issues because he’s uncertain what faith means or because his parents are not spiritual people and so he has not received information on, or coaching about, spirituality.

The brief discourse above on Sam is provided for two reasons: 1) I am a gay male and since I am writing this blog, I wanted the readers and participants to know that I believe in the importance of considering diversity in our views (and definition?!) of health, and 2) To suggest to the reader to remain ever mindful of assumptions we make of other’s perceived “health” or lack of “health” in the “mind-body-spirit” domain. For example, “She’s unhappy because she’s lesbian.” Or, “He has body image issues because he’s overweight.” Or, “She is addicted to exercise because she’s afraid of putting on weight.” Or, “He’s not very spiritual because he comes from THAT country or is affiliated with THAT culture.”  

Alas, what is my point to all of this? Well, if I have done my job over the last two blogs then I have made the case that:

1. A definition of health should be considered from a “mind-body-spirit” paradigm;

2. Any definition of health should be mindful of diversity and should not be based on our own assumptions, biases, and personal ideologies; health, however defined, should be inclusive of all people, cultures, identities, and orientations.

Hahahah….I bet you did not expect THAT twist in my blog, huh? I definitely through a curve ball at ya! So, let me wrap-up this blog by asking you if using a “mind-body-spirit” approach to defining “health” is useful. Perhaps using “mind-body-spirit” is too simplistic, or too convoluted or just plain crazy! Perhaps diversity is not that important in how we define health. Perhaps I’m focusing too much on the “gay issue” because it is important to me and therefore I am guilty of violating point #2 above – my own ideologies have tainted my ability to be objective. Is it even possible to remain completely objective in our effort to define health? Are these questions even necessary? Perhaps I’m blowing this waaaaay out of proportion!?

As usual, I welcome whatever thoughts you have about any aspect of this blog.


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