It is well known that a problem cannot be conceived as such until the concepts have been created to define and limit it. This is why, among other things, our current conception of what well-being should be has broadened to include aspects of human life that decades ago would have been unimportant or even looked down upon.
Today, however we’re not just talking about the importance of meeting the basic needs of each of us, but about a much larger area of potential than being able to feel good physically.. This concept has been called well-being.
Wellness is an idea that more and more therapists and psychologists are working with, but also organizations and agencies of spa hotels that offer weekend experiences. What is wellness and why is it so popular?
Well-being: a new conception of well-being
What we mean today by well-being stems from the ideas of Halbert L. Dunn, An American statistician considered the father of the Wellness Movement. In the 1950s, Dunn developed the idea of well-being with the understanding that human well-being had to go beyond what was heretofore encompassed in health. Thus, this concept should include, in addition to the proper functioning of the organism, the possibility of opting for multiple self-realization.
In this way, the well-being of which Halbert L. Dunn spoke can be understood as the dynamics and lifestyle by which human potential is maximized in the physical, mental and spiritual spheres. As wellness theorizing includes the acceptance of the existence of a mental and spiritual world in addition to the physical world, this concept is used mostly in the influential circles of alternative medicine and non-experimental psychology.
Since the 1950s, and especially with the impetus that New Age culture took in the 1970s, this idea of health has spread in spa centers, spas and wellness hotels, but also in the travel programs and experiences they offer wellness weekends and remains dedicated to improving living standards.
An eternally postponed number
This new way of understanding well-being was not born in the middle of the 20th century by chance. There are reasons why there are many wellness centers today and a century ago this idea was not even raised. This is so because changes in social conditions allowed the philosophy of wellness and holistic health to spread.
It is curious that, although Western human societies have assumed for many centuries the existence of a separation between body and soul, all their efforts to improve the quality of life of people (that of the upper classes, in particular) have focused only on the realm of the physical. The spiritual realm, which is understood to be related to the divine and therefore seems much more important than the “mere carcass of flesh and bone”, takes its place in the practice of creating ideal living conditions.
Soul food was something that was reserved for the very small elites and their surroundings, although there was always a philosopher who, despite struggling to survive, insisted on answering such questions.
It is clear that, until recently, it was difficult to try to meet a repertoire of needs as difficult to define as those corresponding to the spiritual realm, let alone the limited resources and limited technologies available. How could they have spoken of the well-being of the ancient Romans, for example, who depended on the denial of the human character of their slaves to maintain themselves an acceptable standard of living and to use their services freely?
Today, however, talking about well-being is now possible. And it is, among others, because we already have the resources and the technology not to continue to postpone indefinitely the fundamental question: what about the well-being of our mind?
Well-being in the well-being society
It is therefore not surprising that this notion of what is well-being practically coincides with the emergence of the welfare state shortly after World War II. The basic needs of more and more social layers being satisfied thanks to the redistribution of wealth, it was easier to go beyond the reach of all positive human values..
This is when we start to talk more about freedom, autonomy in order to be able to choose a lifestyle adapted to our own way of being and of doing things. It is also at this stage that the idea that wellness should address issues that have yet to be addressed begins to spread. Many psychology professionals are beginning to focus their interventions on the need not only to treat mental problems, but also to help lead patients towards happiness and self-actualization. The needs of the mind, reformulated as the needs of the mind, become some of the primary goals.
In this way, all ideas related to health and fitness have been imbued with the notion of well-being: from plans to lose fat, lose weight and keep a flat stomach, to treatment plans for sick patients or to help carry out healthy eating plans.
Science in Speech
As is always the case with concepts that appeal to a spiritual world that functions by logics other than the physical realm, well-being in its original definition is not something that is given much consideration in scientific psychology or conventional medicine. The research and intervention plans of these bodies tend to focus on the study of subjective experience and the placebo effect, but not on taking into account areas of well-being detached from biological processes and normal physiological.
It is clear that weight loss plans could work better if the idea of wellness is internalized and taken up by patients, and that hotels can improve their economic results if they include a wellness center in their plans. services, but that doesn’t tell us much about an area of human needs outside of other areas of physical health..
So while the idea of wellness can be of use to many spas, hotels, travel agencies, and alternative medicine organizations, it is not a universal truth.
Believing in well-being can open the door to a new way of developing happiness and enjoying life, but not doing so doesn’t take us very far from true well-being.