Notwithstanding the various juggling acts we perform, nor the sensory overload we experience day to day, we are living in a time that both demands and expects us to be energised. It is no wonder that we seek to nurture and maintain our wellbeing – not only for the sake of our own health and happiness, but to keep up, thrive and prosper.
Suicide takes the highest percentage of male lives under 45 globally, while women in single digits are suffering body-body-image and eating disorders. Stress is attributed to over 90% of health issues, decreasing our vitality and immunity while increasing our anxiety. It seems that in our busy, hurried world, where looks trade like currency and priorities can easily become out of alignment with our real, heart-felt values, we are feeling more frayed, tired and alone than ever before.
We are all well accustomed to conversations about wellbeing taking standard trajectories; what we eat, how we move our bodies; how we sleep. While our diets, exercise regimes and sleep patterns are extremely important parts of our personal wellness picture, we are being invited to shift our thoughts and language around wellbeing now. We are being called to partake in higher conversations around kindness, gratitude, joy, inspiration, grace and stillness. We are being asked to practise the arts of these higher ideals, nurturing not only our personal but our collective wellness. To tend to our own needs with care and respect, and to use the important and meaningful energy we cultivate within ourselves to support, comfort and inspire each another.
Wellbeing is an integrative, all-encompassing experience. We can eat all the kale in the world, but if we are ungrateful, unkind and ungenerous people, we will not find the sparkle of wellness that we seek. We can exercise to a perfect, personalised program week to week, yet if we aren’t present in our present moments, feel perpetually anxious, or are endlessly critical of ourselves and others, we will feel inflamed and depleted. We can get eight hours of deep sleep a night, but ignore opportunities to be of loving, meaningful service to others in our waking lives. We might then wonder why we feel empty – for it is in giving that we receive.
Buddhist Monk Trich That Hanh reminds us that the way we do one thing is the way we do all things. All parts of our lives deserve our loving compassion, creativity and attention. If we are experiencing disharmony in any way, we are being asked to carefully revisit each note that we are playing in the chord of our lives. The key to regaining our harmony is attending to these notes honestly and respectfully, without guilt, shame or blame, and without diminishing all the parts of ourselves and our lives that we are indeed mastering.
All the separate but inextricably connected parts of our lives are born of our thoughts, which inform our choices and shape our worlds. Just as we have chosen so many things in our lives, we can choose to be kinder, more patient, more giving human beings. We can choose joy over suffering, gratitude over taking things for granted. We can choose compassionate listening and full presence over quick judgement and distraction. We can choose to support and elevate one another rather than compare and compete with one another. There is no positive act too small or simple when it comes to our wellness. We can begin with one grateful thought a day. One random act of kindness. One deep breath. In this very way, we begin.
Each human being has the profound capacity for inner peace, happiness, and wellness. When we tend to ourselves, each other and our lives with love and care, we come to know, and share, true health and happiness. We see at last that true wellness isn’t ‘out there’ it is within us, right now.
Meredith Gaston is a critically acclaimed and award winning author. She will be speaking at the Upgrade Your Life 2019 event about the importance of charity and contribution. Find out more.