By: Chuck Gillespie, CEO

Many people get the terms “simple” and “easy” mixed up. Simple is best defined by Apple founder Steve Jobs: “To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.”

Wellness is difficult to make simple, especially for a wide audience, but if wellness is done comprehensively, it can happen. But it will never be easy if you are seeking real change.

National Wellness Institute has spent the last decade going deep into the competencies of wellness. As we finalize the peer review and analysis of our wellness competency research, it is only fitting to begin sharing the observations. These observations are probably “easy” aspects to digest because we have gone deep with our study, but to accomplish them will demand good training, a support network, and a lot of focus on leading the change. It is not going to be easy.

Over the next six months, I will provide a series of thought statements that seek to help trigger practical, skilled, meaningful, and capable approaches you must consider, as you seek to deliver a high-level wellness strategy at work, at home, in your community, with your customers, or for yourself.

Let’s begin with the first statement: Wellness needs to take a whole-person and systems approach.

A systems approach considers the attributes of an entire system to solve a problem. The systems approach allows the designer (you, your team, your leadership, your audience) to manage, encapsulate, and anticipate. A system is a cohesive collection of interrelated and interdependent parts which can be natural or human-made. Whole-person approach looks beyond the physical health of an individual.

Questions to consider when looking at a whole-person and systems approach:

  • What are the environmental factors that create positive and negative effects on a person/group?
  • What interactions among the individual, family, organization, community, and social systems impact their experience of wellness?
  • How do we utilize appropriate techniques (e.g., strengths-based, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral) to encourage individuals to be active participants in their personal wellness journeys?
  • Are there relevant theories and models to explain the integrated role of physical, social, intellectual, emotional, occupational, and spiritual aspects in the human pursuit and experience of wellness throughout the lifespan?
  • What are the appropriate, culturally relevant, and evidence-based resources that are available to educate individuals and the public about wellness?
  • Can we adopt person-centered communication practices that consider the whole person, recognizing the influence of factors such as socio-demographic variables and worldview?
  • Are we considering the use of participatory, humanistic, and strengths-based processes to design programs that meet the objectives and outcomes established by key stakeholders?
  • When and how do we assess individual or group interests and needs using a multi-dimensional and ecological approach?
  • Where do individuals seek health and wellness resources and materials that lead to self-discovery, self-knowledge, and self-direction for an individual?

The answers will come in practical application of a comprehensive, evidence-based, high-level wellness initiative. But know that we are in the first discussion point of a five-part series that require you to think about all aspects – not just this one.

Let the journey begin and I look forward to the deeper dialogue.