“What is health?”
Ask around and you will probably end up with various different answers. This is because we all perceive health in different ways; furthermore, the word health can mean different things to us in different circumstances.
More often, health is associated with the body and its functions. If we can barely remember the last time we visited our GP, then we’d think of ourselves as healthy individuals; on the contrary, if we have a broken leg or we see the doctor multiple times in a year, we’d think our health is not as good as it should be.
But health is not measured by the number of visits we pay to our GP or hospital and it doesn’t only reflect the condition of our body as it is clearly stated by the definition given by the World Health Organization in 1948:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
It is easy to see that only in a condition of absence of physical disease and mental illness we can start talking about health. Health can’t occur with physical health or mental health only.
Yet, there’s a lot more to it than just a definition.
Health is balance, harmony, synergy. It’s only in part visible to the eye (the external condition of the body) but mostly it lies within us, within our body, within our mind.
The English word "health" comes from the Old English word hale, meaning "wholeness, being whole, sound or well”. Therefore the word itself encloses the idea of unity, wholeness, the need for the individual to reach inner peace that is then manifested through a healthy body.
In health there is acceptance and joy, ability to embrace life in its complexity without falling into dramas. It is the powerful balance of body mind and soul.
This status of health requires a deep understanding of ourselves, the language of body, and the consequent ability to respond to the signals both body and mind send through illness.
Each of us needs to take full responsibility for our physical, emotional and spiritual being as health is not only the result of the absence illness, but rather the willingness and determination to reach total wellness and well-being.
With this in mind, it is fundamental for each of us to perceive ourselves as complete beings (rather than fragments) and work towards achieving health in all its wholeness.