One of my favorite words in any language is the Hebrew word, shalom.
Outside of the Jewish culture, most people have never even heard the word, let alone know what it means. Even Christians and some Jews I know have only a cursory understanding of this powerful word.
I bring it up here because it really sums the last several “Wellness Wednesday” articles.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that we have looked at the concept of wellness from a number of different angles:
- The Four Sides of Wellness: Move Right, Eat Right, Think Right, Live Right
- The Three-part Human Life: Spirit, Soul, and Body
- The Wellness Iceberg: The Inner Elements That Shape Outer Health
- Wellness Is a Process, Not A Destination
- Love Is The Foundation Of All Wellness
An Overarching Vision
Now that we’ve looked at it from the bottom, the top, and all around the sides, I want to propose an over-arching vision for wellness, and it’s based on this word, shalom.
In the healthcare community, we tend to view human life from within the confines of our own tunnel:
- Ask a psychologist what wellness looks like and she will probably talk about self-esteem, clear boundaries, and freedom from emotional baggage.
- Pose the same question to a Medical Doctor and he will likely describe a balanced diet and longevity.
- A Chiropractor might talk in terms of spinal alignment and an unhindered nervous system.
- A Pastor might mention a clean conscience and healthy relationships.
- Of course, your financial planner has a view of wellness, too.
- And your boss.
The foundation of my practice – you might say the nucleus of my professional career – is that humans are multi-faceted beings and each facet is linked to all the others. To address your spinal health without considering diet, or to deal with emotional problems without confronting spiritual issues, is a losing proposition. Concerns in one area of your life are seldom limited to that one part. A holistic view of life allows you to deal with issues from multiple angles and deal with the interconnectedness of the parts of our self.
Put simply: wholeness is more than physical, more than mental, more than emotional, more than relational, and more than spiritual.
That’s why I love this word, shalom. Our English Bibles usually translate it “peace,” but our understanding of peace is so shallow and over-simplified.
Going Deeper Into Wholeness
If you were to ask a Rabbi about this word, He would describe it as a sense of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being and harmony.
Strong’s Concordance is a reference book that takes every single word in the King James Version of the Bible and expresses the specific meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words from which our Bible is translated. According to Strong’s, shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.“
Do those sounds like words you would want to describe your life?
So, let’s imagine a life where shalom is active. What would that look like?
Muscles are flexible and toned, regardless of age. The spine is aligned and the nervous system communicates freely to every nerve ending. Joints move smoothly and freely, like polished ice. Digestion is easy and painless. The body is well-hydrated, lubricating tissues and flushing out toxins. Cells have all their electrons and free radicals leave the body quickly. Eyesight is 20/20, hearing is clear and articulate, and the other senses are accurate. The body is free from growths and tumors. You can limit your stress. Your bones are strong. You nourish your body consistently with adequate nutrients from living organic food and drink clean pH-balanced water.
You accept and process new information easily. The mind retains information securely and can recall data on demand. You receive information on a wide variety of topics from a wide variety of sources. The mind is free from clutter, confusion, and memory loss. Fear and worry do not control your decision-making.
You carry a healthy sense of self and are not hindered by self-hate, self-destructive tendencies, or self-sabotage. You can accept criticism, praise, and forgiveness with grace. You can deal with negative circumstances in a healthy way. You can limit your stress and avoid extremes. You can release the baggage of the past and not worry about the future.
Relationships are healthy and balanced, with appropriate boundaries. You are free from unforgiveness, and can forgive and bless people easily. You can approach new people with acceptance and kindness, and are connected to a diverse group of people. You can confront conflict with gentleness and humility. You can serve others, even if they are unable to do anything for you. You are free from manipulation – either from others or toward others.
You have a healthy relationship with your faith and participate regularly in worship, prayer, and meditation.
You always have enough money or other resources to meet your needs each day (or month), plus savings and investments, and enough to attend to the needs of others when opportunities arise. You are out of debt.
You work at a job you enjoy where your skills are put to good use and you provide excellent service to others. You are challenged to grow and paid appropriately.
Your living space is free from harsh chemicals and free from clutter. You get plenty of sunlight and fresh air.
As you can see, shalom covers a huge swath of human existence. Plus, this kind of wholeness describes a situation where you are experiencing complete wellness in every area of life. A lack of wellness (disease) in any one area diminishes your wholeness overall.
Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?
It might be.
Putting The Brakes On Wholeness
We are limited creatures in an imperfect world, and I would not expect everything in my life to always be perfect, but this vision gives me an idea of something to shoot for. I do not have complete control over everyone around me or everything that happens. Three minutes of watching the news digs a huge gash into my emotional wellness. A poor decision by the driver in front of me could severely damage my physical wellness. Unforgiveness could trash my wellness in all eight areas at once.
Still, I can always be taking steps toward wholeness. There are aspects of my life that I can control and aspects that I can’t. Like the old prayer reminds us, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to affect the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference.” Maturity is the process of becoming more well and more balanced in every area of life.
Maybe you’ll never achieve 100% wholeness in every part of life in this life, but it’s worth the effort to move in that direction.
How To Move Toward Wholeness
I encourage you to go back over the list and take a moment to consider how you would measure the wellness of each of these areas in your life. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a pretty good start. You can probably think of other examples within each area. This was just off the top of my head as I was writing. As you undertake this inventory, pick out one or two that might want to start addressing immediately. You might decide there is something you could do to boost up your wellness score in one area or another: forgive a friend, pay off a debt, read your Bible for ten minutes, add a nutritional supplement to your diet, or begin watching the “Move Right Monday” video series we put together for you. There possibilities here are endless and you can add the habits that seem right for you.
Don’t add more than one or two things at a time or you will be at a higher risk to forget one, and then it’s easy to get discouraged. Keep it simple. You have your whole life to work on wholeness.
It won’t take but a few weeks before you begin to see real results in the areas you choose to address. Let the momentum of those successes accelerate your forward into other growth areas. In a year, you won’t even recognize your life. And I want to hear about it. Post before and after photos on our Facebook page. Share your successes with us. You never know who you might encourage.
Are you getting our Wednesday Weekly e-mail? Each week, we share an article, a recipe, or a video to help you achieve wholeness in some area of your life, plus updates on our upcoming events, like the Fundamental Foods dinner on November 3rd at my office in Naples. If you live in the Naples area, I hope you’ll join us.
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