Having worked in the wellness industry for 13 years, I have come to understand that wellness is in fact quite sneaky. It sneaks up on us without our awareness. Wellness also sneaks away of its own accord. We simply don’t know how to grasp it and where to look for it. That fact alone is a barrier to us staying well. If we knew what truly helped us stay well, I imagine we would do a little more of it.
The image I have is of Elmer Fudd sincerely looking at me, whispering loudly, “ Be verwy verwy quiet. We’re hunting wellness.” Like our dear friend Elmer we are just a bit off the mark when it comes to efficiently hunting our goal.
Through the years I have found three major ways in which wellness sneaks by us unknowingly. We’ll start with subtlety.
1: Wellness actions are sneaky in their subtlety
When you eat a habanero pepper, you know it. Your watering eyes, red face, and immediate unrelenting desire for a drink all tell you, “Yep, I ate a pepper.” If things that increased our vitality and equilibrium gave us such easy to read cues, we’d know what they were. They would be obvious and thus much more easily accessible. However, beneficial actions, foods, and herbs often build up our strength gently over time. They are like a bank account slowly and steadily accumulating interest. When we fail to notice their positive benefits for us, then we are much more likely to let them go as a part of our wellness routine. We miss their potential and often falsely flag them as unhelpful and only return to them reluctantly, if ever. An herb, say turmeric, will often sneak into our lives for half a bottle of tablets or so and then out again without us truly knowing what it was doing for us. We failed to pay attention to the subtle signs and gentle benefits we were receiving and thus allowed the herb to fall away from our practice.
A great example comes from yoga. New students often fail to grasp the deep benefits they have been receiving and thus decide to drop out after a series or two. Very often I will get a call from these same students asking to sign back up three weeks later. (Three weeks without yoga is enough time for all of their pains and fatigue to come rushing back.) That’s when they notice. It is only then, when they were feeling well and lost it quickly, that the change is large enough for people to really feel the wellness benefits they were receiving. Now they know yoga was good for them. It took a strong cue to grasp it.
Experiment: Try something for three weeks, and then stop cold turkey as in the yoga example to get a stronger cue. You can feel the changes best only after you’ve been doing something consistently and then suddenly stop. Discomfort is a stronger cue then health.
Remember: Look for subtle cues of increased health such as less pain and less fatigue.
Caution: Quick and bold fixes sound great, but true wellness often sneaks in quiet, gentle, and slow ways.