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An Invitation to Health PDF | Choosing to Change

Table of Contents

As we journey through life, it’s easy to forget that health is not just a concern for the elderly. Aleesha certainly did until her twin brother was diagnosed with prediabetes, which sparked her curiosity about her own health. And now we extend the same invitation to you, whether you’re a young college student or someone older who’s considering a change in lifestyle. An Invitation to Health will guide you to not just think about your health but to take charge of it by making healthy choices for your future.

This book is all about you and for you. It covers everything from your physical and mental health to your spiritual and social connections, your wants and your needs, your past and your potential. It will help you explore options, discover possibilities, and find new ways to make your life fulfilling. Because if you don’t take care of yourself now, you might never know what you’re capable of.

Being healthy means more than just avoiding pain and sickness. It’s a personal choice you make every day, from what you eat to how you handle stress. Sometimes, making the best choices demands making healthy changes in your life. And that’s where this chapter, along with the supplement An Invitation to Personal Change (IPC), comes in. We’ll help you make the necessary changes to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.

But health is more than just physical and mental well-being. By definition, it’s the state of being sound in body, mind, and spirit. According to the World Health Organization, it’s “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” Health involves discovering, using, and protecting all the resources within ourselves, our families, our communities, and our environment. This book takes a holistic approach, looking at health and the individual as a whole, not just part by part.

Health has many dimensions: physical, psychological, spiritual, social, intellectual, and environmental. Your own definition of health may include different elements, but it likely includes a positive outlook, a sense of control over stress and worries, energy and vitality, support from loved ones, a satisfying job, and a clean environment.

Wellness is purposeful, enjoyable living, a lifestyle choice characterized by personal responsibility and optimal physical, mental, and spiritual health enhancement. It’s the decision you make to move toward optimal health, the way of life you design to achieve your highest potential, and the process of developing awareness that health and happiness are possible in the present. Wellness is the integration of body, mind, and spirit, and the belief that everything you do, think, and feel has an impact on your health and the health of the world.

No matter what your current state of health, wellness is within reach. John Travis, M.D., author of The Wellness Workbook, notes that “no matter what your current state of health, you can begin to appreciate yourself as a growing, changing person and allow yourself to move toward a happier life and positive health.” In wellness, health, and sickness, the functions of the mind, body, and spirit overlap. Psychological factors play a major role in enhancing physical well-being and preventing illness, but they can also trigger, worsen, or prolong physical symptoms. Similarly, almost every medical illness affects people psychologically as well as physically.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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