Evolution of Positive Health

I just uploaded a video to my YouTube page (below) that reviews how I see the evolution of positive health. Within this video I describe how the concepts of wellness and salutogenesis are related. After you watch this short 11 minute video, please share your thoughts. Thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

 

 

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Wellness is the “Opposite of Loneliness”

I was moved by Marina Keegan’s amazing final essay at Yale. Tragically she was killed in a car crash a week after graduating, she was 22. She created the essay below for a special edition of the Yale Daily News edition that was distributed at the class of 2012’s commencement.

I inspired because I realized this is what our world should be and what we all want. It is like how I feel when I attend the National Wellness Conference every year. This means making the world a place where we become the best versions of ourselves.

As she shares, it is not about just being comfortable but about progress, as shared in a previous essay, Is Wellness Progress?  My push is that we all need to enlarge our circle include all living things in creating progress so we generate improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Enjoy…

Marina’s essay

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We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.

Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse — I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichĂ©d “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.

But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.

For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at EST EST EST. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS, probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.

We’re in this together. Let’s make something happen to this world.

Hard to say it better than that. Lets work together for progress by generating comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

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New Publication – Action Sports Improves Health

Using the good work of Masters student Ryan Moynahan, with colleagues, we published a new paper in the Journal of Sport Behavior. Using the Salutogenic Wellness Promotion Scale for young adults and The H.E.A.L.T.H Model (see below the Holistic Ecological Assessment of Lifestyles for Total Health) for a guide, it was found that regular engagement in action sports improves health. Actions sports are non-traditional and possess risk, danger, rules and techniques atypical of traditional sports. Action sports include surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, eco-challenge, and rock climbing and the number of participants in these sports is growing faster than any other sport activity.

While this findings seems obvious, the study was done because generally we only hear about the dangers or injuries from  actions sports and not the benefits. As this study suggests, with proper precautions and training, similar health benefits as with participation in other sport activities is the result. Of course Risk Homeostasis Theory would suggest that only those who properly train would be involved in actions sports. If Dr. Wilde were initially looking at actions sports, it would seem the benefits of the risky behavior outweigh the benefits of safe behavior. Yet the assessment must go deeper. Engaging in actions sports without injury means they engaged in the cautious behavior of proper equipment, training, etc. so they could engage in action sports. This then is a case where the benefits of cautious behavior, being properly trained, drove them to take appropriate action.

As I say throughout my work, all of us desire to create pleasure so to help make this happen we need to highlight the benefits of actions that improve quality of life that encourages  actions from which everyone and everything benefit. Any way you look at, this interesting paper documents that health benefits and more accrue from involvement in actions sports. If you are interested you can access the article at:

Shores, K., Becker, C. M., Moynahan, R., Williams, R., & Cooper, N. (2015). The Relationship of Youth Adults’ Health and Their Sports Participation. Journal of Sport Behavior, 38 (3), 306-320. (see JSB-Relationshp of Hlth & Sport part)

Color H.E.A.L.T.H. Model

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Proactive & Presenteeism are Orwellian

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In George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, he described actions of Big Brother in a dystopian future. In the future, he showed how words were used in different and misleading ways. In the book it was referred to as Newspeak and now is often referred to as Orwellian. Newspeak was used to mislead people. Examples of Newspeak included having Ministry of Love to oversee torture and brainwashing, a Ministry of Plenty to oversee shortage and famine, a Ministry of Peace to oversee war and atrocity, and a Ministry of Truth to oversee propaganda and historical revisionism. To further confuse people, sayings such as “War is Peace”, “Ignorance is Strength”, and “Freedom is Slavery” were used throughout the text.

The Newspeak used by Orwell in 1984 is now  referred to as Doublespeak and is defined as a way to deliberately disguise, distort, or reverse the meaning of words. Current uses of Doublespeak include euphemisms, or expressions used when something is unpleasant such as using “downsizing” for layoffs. Doublespeak is used to disguise the truth.

To me this has been happening with health and has hurt attempts at improving health. Halbert Dunn in the late 1950’s and 1960’s attempted to rectify the meaning of health which he saw as being understood by most to be the absence of disease with concept of Wellness or positive health. He described the idea of wellness in this linked article “High Level Wellness for Man and Society” and related writings.

Dunn coined the idea of wellness or positive health because health became negative and to be seen then, just as it often is now, as the absence of problems. True health is the PRESENCE OF PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING as defined in the World Health Organization’s Constitution. Not only is health the presence of physical, mental, and social well-being it is defined to be “NOT MERELY THE ABSENCE OF DISEASE AND INFIRMITY.”
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To achieve health our focus needs to be on taking actions to create physical, mental and social well-being. Similarly, Tal Ben-ShaHar explained in Happier, happiness must be pursued to be attained. If we do nothing, unhappiness will follow. Just like happiness, if we want health, it must be caused to happen if nothing is done, disease and infirmity are likely. Currently words such as Presenteeism and Proactive and others are used in an Orwellian fashion to suggest a more positive a approach to health. However upon examination it can be seen that these words can be thought of as Orwellian Newspeak or Doublespeak.

Presenteeism has been suggested to be a more positive way to address productivity rather than absenteeism. Of course absenteeism hurts productivity because work cannot be completed when they are not there. According to the October 2004 Harvard Business Review: “Researchers say that presenteeism—the problem of workers’ being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning—can cut individual productivity by one-third or more. In fact, presenteeism appears to be a much costlier problem than its productivity-reducing counterpart, absenteeism. And, unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always apparent: You know when someone doesn’t show up for work, but you often can’t tell when—or how much—illness or a medical condition is hindering someone’s performance. “Outwardly you look fine,” says Farler, who over the years tried numerous prescription and nonprescription medications for her allergies, with little success. “People don’t see how you feel.” My concern is that while being present should better, presenteeism does not represent something positive or even potential, it is more about what is missing instead of what is present. If we want to create gains to improve health and productivity, our efforts must focus on what we need to do to create what we desire, rather than what should not be done or avoided to prevent what is unwanted.

Being proactive is also Orwellian. Proactive is about doing something before so something bad won’t happen. Isn’t that “prevention”? A more effective suggestions would be to take action to cause something good to happen rather than just avoid something bad. If prevention works, as explained earlier, nothing happens – no problem but neither has desired outcome been achieved. Nothing, or prevention of problems, if done well, is achieved by being proactive – isn’t that Doublespeak?

Lets focus on what we can do to create desired outcomes and worry less about what we must do to eliminate possible problems. I make this suggestion because if we can create desired outcomes, this means we have  overcome or made irrelevant any possible circumstances that would keep it from happening.

I look forward to hearing about how you are working to generate comprehensive benefits by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker, PhD

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Experiencing Wellness = Progress Toward Desired

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For as long as I have been in the field, since the late 80’s, there has been debate about what wellness is and how it should be defined and described.

When I first learned about wellness, like health, it was described as a process of making better choices to create a life of optimal health. However, upon reflection, a process was not very exciting, desirable or motivating to most. After all, does it mean if you have wellness you have a process? Most of us are more interested in what that means to us and others. In other words most of us think about what a process produces or provides.

In getting my PhD, my professor challenged my thinking and changed my understanding of wellness from a process to a product. He explained to me that because wellness is a         -ness word, it means it is a state of being. With that understanding I went on to categorize illness as a state of negative health and wellness as a state of positive health.

The state of being status however seemed limiting because of the relative dynamic state of life and well-being. Around this time, 2006, Lester Breslow, one of the fathers of public health, published an influential commentary, Health Measurement in the Third Era of Health. In this article he explains that, “…health must be clearly differentiated from health status, because health  has a dynamic potential for increasing or at least maintaining whatever health status is in place…” Taking this information I inferred then that wellness must be Positive Health Potential and Illness as Negative Health Potential.”

When I described wellness as a potential, I analogize it by explaining how a wedding provides the potential of having a life partner, a degree creates the potential of having a career, and health creates the potential of having a desired life. Health after all is a resource for life. I then explain to have the life desired, a fulfilling career or a desired life partner, effort is needed to make it happen. This again left me wondering. W hat do we achieve by having wellness or health? Is it just a possibility and would those possibilities be motivating?

Through my history I have moved from seeing positive health or wellness as a process, to being a product or state, to then being a potential. Although I have liked thinking of health and wellness as positive potential, I have had some reservations about its ability to motivate or to feel pride and accomplishment for its achievement. In my recent review of a dissertation, I came to a new realization about wellness and what it is.

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as:  

an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.

The World Health Organization defines wellness as:

the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. There are two focal concerns: the realization of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfillment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings (Smith 2006)

These organizations describe it as all – the process, the product, and potential. To me these definitions make wellness ambiguous and difficult to understand, conceptualize, and or quantify. By reviewing all this, I had come to realize that really when I experience wellness and what it has always been and what motivates people to work to achieve wellness is PROGRESS. It is when we do things that help us move toward where or who we want to be that enables us to experience the positive, relative, dynamic state of wellness.

My recommendation for wellness suggests we should describe, define and view wellness as PROGRESS. If wellness is progress, then all health promotion and wellness efforts would be focused on creating processes, programs and efforts to enable and create PROGRESS.

Please let me know you thoughts about wellness as progress and how we can continue to improve toward creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
I look forward to hearing about how you use pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions to generate All Good so everything and everything benefits!

Thank you.
—
Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

 

Time to Go All In to Help Everyone & Everything Benefit

In this linked Steve Howard TED Presentation, he explains how IKEA has gone all in for sustainability and encourages us to do the same. As he describes, going all in yields the greatest benefits for everyone and everything. Also as I have noted before and he explains, going all in means they will go beyond sustainability to being restorative and regenerative.

There is great overlap with his message and the aim of Positive Health Leadership. I encourage you to listen and  plan how you can go all in for positive health so everyone and everything benefits. Realize going all in will help you experience selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits!

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Flourish by Seligman

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I just finished reading Seligman’s Flourish. As usual, he provides a great book with helpful information. The book provides well documented information and valuable insight into Positive Psychology. In this book he encourages the move toward well-being which he describes as more than happiness for positive psychology. He provides the PERMA model as his theory of well-being which adds to the happiness theory he provided in Authentic Happiness.

PERMA: P-ositve emotion; E-ngagement; R-positive Relationships; M-eaningful life; A-chievement

The book however left me wanting more. It reminded me of the conversation I had with him at his presentation about a Positive Psychology strategies to treat depression he made at APA conference I attended. In his presentation he reported that using these strategies were more effective and people who received these treatments were less depressed.

My question , how is that positive? Being less depressed is wonderful, of course, however that does not mean they are achieving positive health, it just means they have less negative health. I have adopted his idea of categorizing health on a number scale, that is 0 is neither positive or negative, negative means there problems and positive numbers are better than just not bad or the absence of problems. I refer this to as exceed expectations (see video here) and also can be thought of as Flourishing, Thriving or Excelling.

With this in mind, I believe for us to truly achieve positive health we must start by aiming for an idealized outcome, something that would represent +3 and could not happen as things are now. To achieve true Positive health, we must make it happen. Using the idea of paneugenesis (linked to video) we also must think how our +3 also benefits others because benefitting others benefits us. In other words, to achieve true +3 we must create interactions so everyone and everyTHING benefits.

To me, if we are to Flourish, we must practice paneugenesis which is selfish, selfless, synergy so everything benefits.

Make it a Great Day!

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