People search for "wellness" on Google more than 6 million times a month, with Americans accounting for 1.5 million of those searches. Merriam-Webster tells us that wellness is "the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal." Are so many people looking for ways to feel good or are they looking for a goal?
People spend a lot of money on wellness. Euromonitor International reports the global wellness industry accounts for $600 billion in the global marketplace, with a quarter of the market in the United States. Here are a few wellness boosters that cost little or no money.
Have Fun: Fun helps balance the serious part of life and is connected to physical and mental wellness. Irritating thoughts or worrying is hard while we are laughing. Having fun lowers stress. Laughter burns calories and it dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow to our organs - including our brain.
Move: As in, exercise. We know exercise is good for our bodies. Exercise is also key to mental wellness. Children with higher grades exercise regularly and vigorously. They tend to make better decisions, too. There is even a link between exercise and lower memory loss associated with aging.
Connect: People connected to family, friends and their communities live longer, better, and report higher degrees of health and happiness. Connecting is a deliberate action we choose - a two-way process whereby we actively communicate. When we meet people in public there is no rule that one person is supposed to speak first. Being friendly is as much our responsibility as it is theirs. We only need to make the effort. Connecting with others enhances our wellness and it grows neighborhoods and communities in the process.
Acceptance: Acceptance empowers us to focus on what matters. Grudges are unhealthy. Malachy McCourt said, "resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Letting go of anger is healthy, too. Thomas Fuller suggests we never be angry at two things: those things that we can help, and those things we cannot help.
Purpose: Good health is the point to wellness. Actively seeking a goal of good health is to decide to have it. Purposeful living is how we do it. Purpose is associated with a sense of wellbeing and less disease. One study found the risk of developing Alzheimer's was 2.5 times higher among persons lacking a clear sense of purpose. Having a purpose is protective in those healing from trauma.
The potential to matter is inside each of us and we may pursue what matters to us or set it aside. If for too long life lacks meaning, consider the advice by life coach and college success guru David Ellis who challenges us to search for a bigger problem. By finding a bigger problem to manage, we turn our attention to solutions and by doing so we find purpose. Helen Keller said, "True happinessis not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."
Editor's note: Brian Rendel, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC, works for the Copper Country Mental Health Institute.