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What is Wellness? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Allen Lawrence, M.D.   
The word wellness has its root in the word well. Well has many meanings in relation to our topic. As an adverb it has some or all of the following meanings: In a good or satisfactory way; in a condition of prosperity or comfort; in a favorable or approving manner; in a thorough manner; to a great extent or degree; very probably; in all likelihood; with good reason. 

As an adjective some or all of the additional meanings: In good health; free or recovered from illness; in a satisfactory state or position; sensible

It further has additional usage: With equal reason or an equally good result; sensible, appropriate, or desirable; substantive

When paired as well-being as a noun it means: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

Wellness, A State of Well-Being

The concept of being well implies being, not only being healthy, but also happy, to be good, to have prosperity, to be free of illness, sensible and in an overall satisfactory state.

Wellness, by virtue of its ..ness.. ending denotes a state of being such as being well or well-being. We can therefore consider wellness as a state of complete physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being, a state of happiness, healthy, freedom from illness, with prosperity and sensibility, an overall satisfactory state.  Therefore it is not the absence of disease or infirmity (as defined by WHO in 1946) that is commonly thought of as defining well or wellness or well-being, but much more. When these conditions, the basis of being well, are not fulfilled, then one can be considered to have an illness or to be ill. Certain illnesses can be called a disease, and there are many kind of diseases like cancer, AIDS, etc. Some illnesses are easily curable, but some are not. In some cased both medication and the science of pharmacology must be used to treat, or reduce symptoms and in some rare cases cure it, however, in most situation medications do not cure serious life-threatening illness action by physician, the individual or a group may help or be most effective. Cure and healing always involve some aspect of restoration of harmony balance and well-being. This often requires problem solving and resolving or healing unresolved conflicts.

Hence wellness can be said to be:

  • The state of the individual when the individual can perform vital functions normally or properly
  • The state of the individual when the individual is in a state of being sound in body or mind
  • The state of the individual when the individual is free from physical, mental, emotional or spiritual disease, pain and suffering
  • The state of the individual when the individual functions optimally without evidence of disease or abnormality.
  • A state of dynamic balance in which the individual’s or the group's capacity to cope with all the circumstances of living is at an optimal level.
  • A state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity, ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biologic, psychological, and social stress; a feeling of well-being, and freedom from the risk of disease and untimely death.