How Are You?
What you need to know to answer “I am well” and mean it
By Nevine Shazli
It happens to us many times each day; at the office, in the neighbourhood, on the phone, or at a family event. Someone says “Hi, how are you?” in a way that is not even a question. You do it too, probably more times than you can count. What is your usual response? “Ok, you?’ or “Good, thanks, how about you?” or “Hey, how’s it going?” It is a rare occasion that someone says “I am well, thank you!” and even rarer that it is said with meaning. Of course we are all spitting out automated statements as we fly by each other, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s the way we greet each other. But to stop and think for a moment about how we really are… That is a luxury we must indulge in, for the sake of our well-being and that of all those affected by our lives. So how do you know if you really are well? What is well-being?
We all want to be well. Deep down, it is our primary goal in life. That is because well-being encompasses everything we think about when we answer the question “What do I want?” To have total and absolute well-being, we must have health of body and mind, a heart opened to love, and a peaceful soul. We must be engaged in meaningful relationships, do work that is gratifying, have enough money to live free of financial worries, and, last but not least, we must have a vision of life that is bigger than our own self. No wonder it is a tall order to fill! Ah, but totally worth it. After all, it is this achievement that will allow us to lie on our death bed knowing we have reached our potential.
To have total and absolute well-being, we must have health of body and mind, a heart opened to love, and a peaceful soul.
As an Occupational Therapist for almost 20 years and through my own personal journey, I have learned a lot about health and wellness. The countless diseases and handicaps that an O.T. student learns about are enough to send anyone into a tailspin of paranoid somatization (which did happen to me). The thing about physical health is that we have come to believe today that it is a luxury. With so many of our loved ones dealing with cancer and other chronic and degenerative illnesses, we settle into thinking that “As long as I have my health, everything is ok…” or “Health is all that matters.” But the absence of disease is not all that matters. O.T. is based on the Model of Human Occupation (Kielhofner) which places the person at the centre of his/her life. At the very core is the spiritual component of the human being, surrounded by the affective (emotional), physical and cognitive (mental) components. The individual is engaged in “occupation”, which includes self-care, leisure and productivity. These areas of occupational performance take place in the midst of a physical, social, cultural and institutional environment. This model of person-occupation-environment is the holistic framework that serves as the basis for O.T. assessment and intervention. Many other health and wellness disciplines consider the whole of the person in treating dis-ease. Well-being, then, includes all dimensions and aspects of a person and the life situation they find themselves in.
Well-being includes all dimensions and aspects of a person and the life situation they find themselves in.
Of course, there are exceptions to every situation. Someone can be born with a physical handicap and still consider themselves to be well, because they have fully adapted and compensated for the handicap. Another can be in jail and find spiritual freedom. Yet another can be broke and still feel fulfilled. In general, though, for a person to consider themselves to be totally and absolutely well there needs to be balance and harmony in body, mind, heart, soul and environment (context, situation). This does not mean that there won’t be any difficulties, challenges or obstacles, including occasional sickness. Well-being is not a rose-coloured, impossible-to-reach destination. Rather, it is a process whereby we constantly seek to come back to a state of homeostasis. We return to the centre of ourselves and our lives over and over again. At first this does require work. One has to be willing to dig up and clear out mental and emotional baggage in order to be free from the past and to make the changes required to create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling. It is necessary to explore various health and wellness modalities until the ones that resonate the most become part of daily life and, most importantly, to be willing to touch the deepest part of oneself, the soul, so as to live from a place of truth and authenticity. This is the work of healing and personal growth. After a while, it becomes natural, pleasant and light to maintain a state of well-being.
It is necessary… to be willing to touch the deepest part of oneself, the soul, so as to live from a place of truth and authenticity. This is the work of healing and personal growth.
When you can say “I am well” and mean it, you are free to share your gifts with the world and to move through this life as your truest self. When your fundamental needs are met at a consistently high level, you automatically develop a vision bigger than yourself. You can now put the oxygen mask on the person beside you. You want to help others grow and be well too. You can finally be the one who asks “How are you?” with heartfelt meaning and listens patiently for the real answer. You want to help, give, and contribute. This is how the world changes; you have to be well in order for the world to be well.
So I ask you, dear reader, how are you?
Image: via StockPholio.com
Nevine Shazli is a graduate of the Robbins-Madanes Training (RMT) program. She uses Strategic Intervention Life Coaching with individuals who need help with relationships, personal growth and development, and general life challenges. She is also a certified ThetaHealer® and uses the ThetaHealing® technique as an integral part of her life coaching services. Nevine graduated from the McGill University School of Physical and Occupational Therapy in 1997 and has since been working as a health care professional in the field of Occupational Therapy. In 2007 she completed a yoga teacher training; she teaches yoga and meditation to small groups. She is also a Reiki Master practitioner.