By Chuck Gillespie, CEO, National Wellness Institute
The founders of the National Wellness Institute were visionaries. They understood the need to take independent academic research on high-level wellness and turn it into practical strategies that champions of wellness like you could implement, manage, and evolve. When NWI was founded in 1977, our founders knew the power of an international support network for the sharing of ideas and trends. They developed one of the very first models showcasing what was needed to manage a comprehensive, multidimensional wellness strategy. Today, the Six Dimension of Wellness model remains one of the foundations for the National Wellness Institute.
However, in the four decades since the founding of NWI, the term “wellness” has become diluted. This is partially because the word is being used in a multitude of marketing plans and advertisements and based on how they define the term. My personal favorite is the Vape and Wellness shop right down the street from my home.
Today, we all see articles and discussions about what our industry is to be called. Is it wellness, health promotion, well-being, well being, or wellbeing? Over the years (and to make the term wellness even more diluted), researchers have received tremendous amounts of money to study THEIR definition of wellness, 90% of which is health-specific and not focused on comprehensive (or even basic) wellness. Then, journalists extoll the negative results of these so-called “wellness” studies.
Let’s make some changes. Let’s exploit the research with the facts that we know. Let’s work together to be curious and intentional about the work we do, so that we and those we serve can be well. No more general talk or concerns about what wellness is called or how many dimensions are in a model. For example, I receive several inquiries each year asking why the NWI Six Dimensions of Wellness model does not have a seventh, eighth, or even a ninth dimension. Let’s focus on what we need to succeed not what is missing in a model.
Let’s do. Let’s be leaders. Let’s take action.
Here is my charge to each of you:
- Anyone can talk about wellness. Have you developed the wellness promotion competencies to lead a wellness strategy? If so, I encourage you to apply to become a Certified Wellness Practitioner (CWP). If not, what are you waiting on?
- We are all unique. Why run a one-size-fits-all campaign (I know why – it is easy and checks a box)? Get intentional with championing wellness for ALL. Be curious about what others want as they try to become a better person at work and at home. Run one-size-fits-WELL campaigns.
- Healthy people can be unwell – we call that emergent high-level wellness. Chronically ill people can achieve and maintain high-level wellness – we call that protected health. What is the difference? Their environment. You cannot help a person live their best life if the environment where they live, work and play is not conducive to sustaining the changes they’re choosing to make. Just ask the 90%+ of individuals who have lost weight only to gain it back.
- Focus your efforts on developing a multidimensional (whichever dimensions you want to use), multicultural (which goes beyond DEI policy and training), high-level wellness (which is functioning optimally within the environment) initiative that effectively combines the needs and wants of your audience with the needs and wants of the geographic location where they live, work, and play.
- Call what you are doing whatever you need it to be called to make something happen. If a worksite, for example, is highly safety-oriented, then call it a “safety initiative” within your wellness strategy. WHO CARES WHAT IT IS CALLED! Our focus should be on the attainment of multidimensional, multicultural, high-level wellness – not whether it is or is not called wellness.
- If you are conducting a physical wellness challenge, call it that. Physical activity, movement, nutrition, and other aspects of a physical wellness program are important to your wellness strategy. But remember that the best physical wellness programs have a large social, emotional, and spiritual wellness component to them. Do not forget this. Physical wellness is not just about the movement or the nutrition. It is about the connection and the holistic outcomes that are attained through these activities.
- Occupation matters to everyone’s well-being. Gallup puts it simply as, “what everyone wants in this world is a good job.” The occupation might be full-time or part-time. It might be a job that does not pay like parent, guardian, or volunteer. The occupations that afford high-level wellness are the roles that are inspiring and are a great fit. Good jobs are aligned with purpose, and good jobs also fit into one-size-fits-WELL campaign. Not everyone wants to be the CEO. And that is something to celebrate.
What I want to share in closing may sound a bit overreaching for what high-level wellness can accomplish, but the growing data supports everything I am about to state. Multidimensional, multicultural high-level wellness can help:
- Workplaces recruit and retain great employees.
- Individuals find more purpose in their lives to help them make lasting lifestyle changes.
- Communities grow and become a destination for economic prosperity.
- Corporations can greatly increase both their stakeholder and shareholder value.
- Countries overcome societal obstacles that cause strife amongst other countries and their own people.
What’s next? Find the one, two, or even three problems your audience is trying to solve and position your strategy as the solution. Keep in mind (spoiler alert!) that wellness programs alone will never solve the overall rising costs of health or health care globally. Why? Because there are too many factors contributing to why health care costs are out of control and “wellness” can only help with a few of them.
I am confident that each of you, in your own unique ways, are looking to change the world like I am. Personally, I am done talking and worrying about what the solution is or will be called. By joining together as one worldwide voice, we can generate a stronger focus on what our whole society needs: a robust multidimensional, multicultural, high-level wellness strategy that allows individuals to function optimally within their environment. BE Curious. BE Intentional. If we do, then together we can all BE Well! See you at the National Wellness Conference virtually or via the WellLeader Connect event in person in Indianapolis.