Choices That Change: Define Wholeness

Four Domains/One Whole
1. Physical
2. Psychological (Thoughts/Feelings/Behaviors)
3. Social
4. Spiritual

When you think about holistic, or wholistic (I guess there's some difference in meaning according to the different spellings), what comes to mind? For me, it conjures up the image of a low-budget office, manned by a single New-age naturopath smelling of herbs and supplements. Like me, you may have been in a few.

How about wellness? That brings to mind slick brochures from a progressive hospital promoting condition-specific programs targeted at the maturing population. Or chic websites catering to the interests of new mothers, young professionals or a privileged jet-set. Or a new MLM fad selling therapeutic possibilities and  potions.

I have nothing against any of these, but as an average human being who resists labeling and sterotypes, I have come to prefer yet another word, one which suggests a broader view which certainly may include but is not limited to the above: Wholeness.

In college I learned the value of a working definition. Making sure that everyone is working from the same understanding of certain words, reducing opportunities for confusion. My working definition of wholeness, therefore, is "a state of being which allows an individual to function at their current optimum capacity in each domain of a human's being." Wellness, in contrast, seems to me to be a subcategory of wholeness, depicting primarily the tangible or physical state of one who is living from within a state of wholeness. But that's just me... Holistic/wholistic seems a bit more ethereal. I know. Semantics.

And if that's not enough, wholeness, as I intend it, addresses the state of a person from a "bio-psycho-social" perspective; bio meaning physical, psycho being thoughts/feelings/behaviors, and social denoting socio-environmental influences. I have added one, spiritual, which I am convinced is as much an integral aspect of wholeness as any of the other three. Therefore, bio-psycho-socio-spiritual.

Just because it's a big word--or because there are a lot of them--doesn't mean the matter is more complicated. In fact, for my money, it simplifies things. Rather than each being a specialization or a micro-managed pursuit that takes on a life of its own, each effort becomes an integrated part of a whole, resulting in a cohesive nurturing of our bodies, minds, relationships and opportunities.

However we talk about it, it all just sounds like more things to add to our schedules--or more guilt to drag around if we don't. What to do...? There are a few small choices that will make big changes in our ability to thrive. I'll share some that have worked for me and for others--and some that have not. I hope you'll join in the conversation passing on what you have learned, and learning from others.

*What comes to mind when you hear the words holistic, wholistic, wellness, wholeness?
*How have those images helped or hindered past attempts to enjoy wholeness as defined here?

No comments: