Despite what some philosophers, depressed poets and novelists may claim, I believe that there is a meaning to life, and what’s more – we have it now today, to do with as we want, one day at a time and that’s a precious resource. “Life is what you make it” – as my mother used to say.
THE MEANING OF LIFE
I would like to suggest however, that without “Health” we cannot have meaning. I’m suggesting that to have true meaning, you need health. The question is – what health?
We know that you don’t need physical health, without any disease to enjoy meaning. Of course we all agree that, right? Left to our inner thoughts, when our mental spectres visit us, maybe we’re not so sure.
Could we have meaning if we didn’t have our legs, if we had cancer, or were blind? It’s easy to say and easy to believe in certain philosophies – providing we don’t think about them too long.
THE MEANING OF HEALTH?
Perhaps we must change our perspective on health to truly understand it? Its one of those things we all talk about and know the other person understands it in the same way we do. These are often the things in life we have the least understanding of. Why? Simply because we din’t need to understand them … everyone does.
Well, I’m not sure we all do. I’m not even sure that I do. Not only must we understand wholistic (yes the spelling was deliberate) health, but accept that disease is part of the whole, there’s a scale to health. It’s not black and white, night and day, hot and cold. We can’t have insight into our own health without these understandings.
HUMAN FAILINGS AND THE LIGHTS AHEAD
Greed, dishonesty, arrogance, stupidity, laziness, and ignorance – we’ve all seen all of these abuses in life and in traditional (and alternative) healthcare too. We see politics, we see consumerism, we see avarice and we see self seeking behaviour. Fortunately these shortcomings are often balanced by many doing their best, for what they believe the right reasons, and often under “non-ideal” conditions.
Regardless of all this – where do we stand?
HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY KNOW?
Let us never forget as we deal with these issues, just how little any of us really know. Let’s accept that we will remain in awe at the body’s wonder, yet let’s never give up trying to seek its secrets and answers, in answer to our questions.
Let’s also remember to be teachable as we seek – they say the teacher and the student are a continuum. A closed mind won’t be receptive to anything – including the findings presented by science.
Let’s remember too, that “true” science is ‘trying to disprove what you already believe’ and not the other way around.
Honesty to ourselves is the only way to truly move forward. That is true of all aspects of health.
WHAT IS PHYSICAL HEALTH?
There are several environmental factors that work against us, second by second, yet miraculously our bodies put up an amazing fight. Our genetic constitution, for good or bad, influences how well we fight back.
Maybe we can’t change the hand of cards that we were dealt in life, but it is certainly up to us to play the game of life using them as well as we can.
While there’s always “common-sense” to refer to, we can look to a basic understanding of why we do what we do in the face of adversity – do we act now or wait until illness becomes apparent – that’s what we call “getting ill.”
In my opinion we could look at failing physical health in different levels and within different ranges.
PRO-ACTIVE OR REACTIVE MEDICINE?
Pro-active health or reactive disease care – the choice is ours but we need assistance, truth and practicality.
As a healthcare provider with an interest in healthy sleep I see healthcare systems going to great lengths to “avoid” seeing what’s plainly in front of us – the elephant(s) in the room – common diseases such as sleep disorders; Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Insomnia and Snoring for example – despite the crippling and incredibly heavy healthcare burden on society such diseases carry.
I want to consider how we can improve this aspect of our health in simple and inexpensive, yet effective and practical terms. Physical health is still primarily an inside job with outside help.
OUR MIND SET AND PARADIGM SHIFTS
Alas it requires a particular mind-set to manage something. Some societies hum in tune with advanced medicine, health insurance, high overheads, expensive treatment. Unfortunate but I believe there are times when we have to stop crying and write a cheque. NOT EVERY TIME, just sometimes.
There are some societies where their healthcare is underfunded and undervalued. In my opinion these may exist just as frequently in the developed as the undeveloped world.
Perhaps its a truism that we get the healthcare system that as a society, we deserve. Unfortunately (or not) I don’t comply too well when told that the health of myself and those I care about is dictated by what the average man is prepared to accept. If you are then I guess that none of this will make any sense.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Society may have come a long way since flogging the insane and locking them up in asylums – but perhaps on a different level we haven’t come as far as we might like to think we have.
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL PAIN
Speaking as a healthcare provider and a member of humanity, I think it would be sometimes difficult to state whether pain, perceived mentally or physically is innately greater.
As an example, we still show incredible prejudice against mental disease, frequently relating it to a weak emotional constitution rather than on a physical or organic basis. Of course there are many reasons for this, most alas, based of either fear or ignorance. Neither are a great basis for healthcare.
THE PROBLEM THAT IS MENTAL HEALTH
Half of the problem of the lack of mental health (or mental illness) is in a lack of recognition of something we were never trained or taught to look at correctly -if at all. That is, what is health? What is the range and how do we communicate that range.
The other half is in knowing what to do – (or how to pay for it) because of a “traditional illness” biased system. Mental illness is at least as common as physical illness, but healthcare systems often choose a biased or myopic view, because it’s easier to administer.
In light of the top-heavy care systems in general operation, administration becomes a paramount component of the system, whether its political or financial – who calls the shots?
TOWARD A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF MENTAL HEALTH
We’d do better to grasp an improved concept of mental health in both others and ourselves to achieve the health-comes we seek for ourselves and society.
Mental health often requires outside assistance simply because a loss insight plays such a large part in it, its development and progression. I want to look at this aspect of our health to value how we can improve this part of our health in simple yet effective ways.
Mental health often needs outside recognition but an understanding and willingness from the sufferer is paramount too. A major problem is that we have many models of physical health but at best questionable models of mental health.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL HEALTH?
We need to get in touch with our emotions in a productive way rather than simply accepting that they are present. To become healthier overall – emotional health needs to be exercised too – just like physical and mental health.
That is to say – we need to exercise our emotions as they are becoming healthier, just like continuing to exercise after you’ve become fit affords ongoing benefits. Think of your emotions as your dogs which you take out for a walk. Are you healthy enough to take them out and off their leads?
I want to look at the way we fit together and how we relate. How we deal with this aspect of our health. What do we need to know and how can we improve this part of our health in simple and effective ways.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH IS AN INSIDE JOB WITH OUTSIDE HELP
Emotional health is an inside job with outside help, it requires a willingness which will bring untold benefits in life. This acceptance and willingness has historically been ignored as part of health. It should not be confused with the superficial 1960’s quick fix – PMA ” positive mental attitude.”
We fight disease, we fight each other and we even fight ourselves, and it’s at this point the next component of health appear, Spiritual Health.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL HEALTH?
It has long been accepted by many of the greatest philosophers and scientists that there is a force at work, that is greater than ourselves.
The cost of ignoring this is enormous – war, famine, cruelty, hardship and pain. The price we pay for ignoring this aspect of health is great, yet most continue to do so. If you don’t fight, you can’t win – right?
SPIRITUAL HEALTH – SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY
Clearly, it may be a simple concept yet in this fast paced life often driven by outside forces well beyond our control, spiritual health is not easy. For some, traditional religion provides great solace, yet many of us still seek meaning to our lives in the here and now.
We seek something tangible. If we’re dealing with the government, healthcare system, financial institution, etc. etc. – we need something tangible, almost palpable, on our side.
This is the individual’s journey, yet we don’t have to walk alone (which is just as well). My father used to joke and say of some movies, that they were true stories but that the facts had been changed to make them more interesting. Here the journey stays the same, but they are all totally different, yet they are all the same.
How could life be any different? There are 8 Billion of us individuals on this planet at this moment in time, whether we like it or not, most of us want the same things.
IS THIS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We walk together on this journey and helping people along the way is part of our journey. Completely unique, we’re all the same.
What a fantastic opportunity we have to live while we’re alive.