Tonight I was asked the question, ‘What is Health?’

The World Health Organization defines it as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that you are healthy if you are able to do whatever you want and not be limited by a physical, mental or social condition. Say you want to climb a mountain. You won’t be able to do it if you have osteoarthritis in your hip or you are depressed or don’t have any friends to go with.

There are several components to health and your physical health is only one of three. In general, I find that “medicine” will focus on the physical aspects and ignore the other two. I personally found that my training in medicine was overly focused on the study of physical disease and not enough on the emotional and social aspects of health. Doctors (apart from psychiatrists and family doctors) are trained to find and treat physical illnesses. One example would be stress. An overly anxious patient will spend a great deal of time and energy going from the ER to the cardiologist for chest pain, then to the gastroenterologist for abdominal pain and then to the neurologist for headaches. The physicians can all recognize that the patients suffers from anxiety but you would be hard pressed to find a specialist who will take the time to listen to the patient, and then prescribe breathing exercises and meditation (integrative medicine definition).

You need to be proactive about your health because you won’t get this information from your doctor or your television. You need to be your own health advocate and learn as much as you can. Being healthy will allow you to do all the things you plan on doing for as long as you want to do them.

That sounds like true health to me.