What is it to be Well?
By Jessica Bamford
People often come to me with a desire to be “happy”. Though this sounds like a great goal to have, over the years I have come to feel that the pursuit of happiness is really rather elusive. Happiness is actually hard to define- it is different for each individual, and therefore kind of hard to recognise when you are in that blissful place. It also appears to be so fleeting, like most emotions that we fickle humans have… So in order to help my clients come to their happy place I have really had to track myself, to talk to others, to reflect on my life experiences and the stories and lessons of those around me and what I have discovered is that to find, and most importantly, maintain happiness requires two foundational things. The first is to experience sadness, pain, loneliness, grief, even depression because we require a contrast in order to be able to recognise happiness when it hits. Then, we need to work towards being well. Wellness does not require our lives to be without suffering. I have travelled to many places in the world where a great deal of misery lives and the interesting thing is, those are the places where I have witnessed the most profound happiness- where people grab hold of the rare moments of respite from the trials of life- their poverty, disease, horrific abuse- and drink up those moments of joy like they were drops of water in the Sahara dessert. Those are the places where I have witnessed the most exquisite joy- the most honest happiness. So, the thing about wellness is it brings us peace, and, regardless of our external situation we are all capable of it. And the thing about being at peace is it frees up a lot of space in our psyche for feelings of unencumbered joy. Joy is a tell-tale sign of feeling happy, and to me a lot easier to identify. So, what is it to be well? How do we identify wellness? Wellness happens when we are in harmonious balance with our thoughts, feelings, bodies and spirits as well as our environment and others. When we are able to co-create healthy relationships, and contribute to our community in meaningful ways that fuel our gifts and passions, and when we feel connected to something greater than ourselves. It also happens when we recognise that it’s ok to not know; to be imperfect; to accept that life, learning and health are a process.
Wellness is also about learning to embrace change; to roll with it; to set a goal and strive. It is about finding a purpose; a way to contribute despite all obstacles. It is about finding our way out of ‘headupyerassanya’; that unique yoga position that we all find ourselves in from time to time and seeing what a great big wide wonderful world we live in! It is about acceptance of ourselves and the world as being imperfect and uncomfortable and hard and dark and horrific and deciding to focus on the beauty of it and ourselves despite that.
Wellness is to remember from that place deep in our souls that we have a place and a job and a role here on this earth, in this lifetime. It is about making a choice to live that amazing destiny of ours, knowing that it will be full of surprises and challenges and joy and hardship. It is also about finding that place inside you that is absolutely determined to overcome all those obstacles and rise up to your very best self so that you can do something good and be someone that you yourself, respect.