What is wellness?


What is wellness or well-being? Some may say that we are well if we are healthy; but healthy in what way? The World Health Organization has defined health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity’. In other words, not being sick is not the same as being well. Being well requires the holistic development of the physical, mental and social aspects of our lives, rather than just trying to avoid ill health. We could say that well-being is actually a state of optimal health! This suggests that a more positive or active approach to leading our lives is required, as opposed to one that is negative or passive. But what is the whole point of being well? I think we can all say that life is about being happy, even though there are countless opinions on how it can be achieved. Of course I could be wrong, but I’ve never yet met a person who has told me that they live for unhappiness!

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. – John Dewey

If life is about happiness, how do we achieve it? It all starts from raising our levels of self-awareness, that is, awareness of our needs, what we want, and why. Awareness, in turn, comes from the sharing of knowledge, whether it be through, for example, talking with and listening to others, reading books, or the good old ‘trial by fire’ approach of simply trying and experiencing things for ourselves. Essentially, sharing knowledge is simply another term for education. From this, we might be able to conclude that the quality of our lives is strongly influenced by the quality of the knowledge we share with each other. Thus, it seems that education a key factor in being able to lead a balanced, fulfilling and happy life, a life full of wellness. So, how can we ensure that the education we are getting is suitable and effective to meet our needs? Well, that will be covered in an upcoming article series entitled ‘The Importance of education’. Until then, it might be a good idea to spend a few moments thinking about what makes you happy. Is the life you’re leading right now a happy one? If it isn’t, then why not?

Jyri Manninen
FAF Director of Education