The term “well-being” has garnered a great deal of interest in the world of wellness in recent years. That attention is deserved, as it refers to the broader sense of being happy and healthy. It’s a very positive reminder that real wellness goes beyond “food & fitness” to include everything from stress management to financial fitness, relationship development and life balance (in addition to the classics such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc). It’s a positive, meaningful word that we’ll all likely continue to integrate into our discussions.
However, I can’t help but wonder if we’ve forgotten about “well-doing” in the midst of our newfound focus on “well-being.” Isn’t the doing part what leads to the well-being in the first place? Isn’t it a purposeful change in my (doing) behavior that results in improved stress management, better fitness, stronger biometric screening results, enhanced finances, higher sleep quality, and all of the other well-being outcomes we’re seeking in our lives? Doesn’t progress require that I “do” something, even if that something is to say no – to one more TV show before bed, one more slice of cake in the break room, or one more commitment that overloads my schedule?
A recent cartoon by Ed Fischer brings this to light: A doctor is pointing to a list of recommendations that says 1. Exercise 2. Exercise 3. Exercise 4. Exercise 5. Exercise 6. Exercise 7. Exercise. One of the two people looking at the chart responds with “Yes, yes, yes – now seriously – what can we do to improve our health?” In the midst of the humor is a difficult truth – we want to “be” as long as we aren’t required to “do.” It’s not the “well-being” that’s missing from the equation. We’re all for the being part. Rather, it’s the “well-doing” piece that causes us to hesitate.
In a similar vein, a study from the Mayo Clinic, released just 2 weeks ago, demonstrated a measurable correlation between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and health care costs. There was a $14,662 annual difference between those in the fittest quartile compared with those in the least-fit quartile. Please note, these statistics are not comparing the fittest 1% to the least-fit 1% or even the fittest 10% to the least-fit 10%. This is the top 25% to the least-fit 25%, and there was still almost a $15k/year (!!) difference between the two averages. Like most positive changes in our lives, CRF doesn’t happen on its own, and it doesn’t happen by simply “being.” It is directly tied to well-DOING.
Please note, these are simply some recent examples. While exercise plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle, there are many other valuable pieces to the proverbial puzzle. However, each and every one of them focus on purposeful “doing.” The specific wellness component your client, friend or team member integrates might involve any number of elements, from enhancing sleep quality/quantity to reducing soda intake or a number of things in between. However, if we want to get to the “well-being” piece, we must first integrate “well-doing.”
For those of us looking to make a difference in the world of health & wellness, whether you’re a personal health and wellness coach or you’re part of a national employee wellness provider organization, now is a critical time. Putting the focus on creating lasting, meaningful change through intrinsically driven outcomes must continue to be our priority. In the process, however, we must not forget that in the end, enhanced wellness almost always comes down to taking positive steps with our own, personal well-doing.