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Health: What It Is And Isn't

Updated on December 6, 2011

While the nation continues to debate health care due to rising costs and other major concerns, it is important to focus on health--what it is and isn't. A profound statement was made by W. H. Auden, a world-renown literary person of the 20th century. This famous poet's father was a medical officer and professor of public health in Birmingham, England, and his mother was a nurse. Here is what Auden said:

"Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say."

What did Auden mean? Perhaps we in America might need to read his statement over a few times to determine its meaning and significance. Why? The majority of us have all been programmed to think medicine and everything pertaining to the medical paradigm when we hear the word health. Health automatically seems to capture in our minds the thought of going to the doctor for health care, using health insurance, and getting a health check-up. We associate health to approaches called Western medicine (conventional medicine) or alternative medicine. It's no wonder as mass media continually markets intense messages impacting diet, lifestyle and health through advertisements, articles and news reports.

The clue to Auden's statement lies in the opening four words: health is the state.

The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." I like to define it as the state of complete well-being in body, mind and spirit or physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. It is synonymous with fitness, vitality, soundness, wholesomeness and balance. It is not an approach aimed at facilitating the "state of" nor is any disease or sickness associated with it.

To touch on the external approaches to achieve the "state of" just briefly, it is interesting to look at the origin of the title "doctor." The Oxford English Dictionary traces the origin of the word doctor-- from the Old French doctor from the Latin doctor, meaning "teacher." That noun was derived from the verb docere meaning to teach. The health professional who would be of greatest help would teach or mentor his patient in necessary self-help methods, which include implementing healthy practices and lifestyle factors. The responsibility of health, however, rests primarily on the patient or client. (This doctor as teacher-patient relationship could be likened to a marriage counselor establishing guidelines and providing tools to assist, but the individuals involved must follow-through to save their own marriage.) A health teacher would also motivate his patient or client to rely on the body's innate intelligence to restore itself to health and encourage ongoing personal empowerment by personal study . Thomas Edison expressed this concept beautifully when he stated:

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."

I would think Auden must have appreciated that the power to heal lies within each of us. Obviously, it's not the bandage that seals the cut and causes new skin growth. Awareness of this fact should spur us on to take good care of these awesome bodies. To progress to the state of health, the following acronym will give you helpful tips:

H- hear and heed. Listen to the inner voice to take better care of ourselves. Don't throw caution to the wind and blindly follow just any advice or media hype. Each path we take should make good sense, be reasonable, balanced and demonstrate optimum effectiveness.

E- educate yourself. Accurate knowledge empowers us to begin breaking molds-- unwarranted restraints in our thinking by what we may have been taught and old perceptions. There needs to be reliable, proven solutions to such questions as "What builds health? How do I support my healing capacity or what intelligent, supportive therapies will be of greatest benefit to me? What have I been doing to impede my progression to health? What do I need to let go of?" When faced with a major decision impacting health, investigate and know all your options.

A- as soon as possible. Become selective, choosing healthier options in day to day living.

L- launch into new directions. Head knowledge is great but it needs to be put into practice for results. Be sure to embrace and strengthen all the foundational pillars of good health in your life, i.e. a positive mental attitude, a health-promoting diet, physical care (exercise, proper rest, good posture, diaphramatic breathing,bodywork) and spiritual nourishment.

T- transition. As you make needed changes, your body begins to tear down and build anew. It is the amazing design at cellular level to maintain balance when the cells are properly nourished, cleansed and protected.

H- habits for life. We must recognize healthy habits are key.

The human body has the intelligence to heal, repair and maintain balance. So, to focus on health, "Live it!"


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    • naturalhealthchat profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanne Morrone, B.S., C.N.C., LMT 

      6 years ago from Greater Philadelphia area, PA, USA

      Navigating through life/health certainly takes vision and focus, doesn't it? :) I appreciate your comment very much.

    • visionandfocus profile image


      6 years ago from North York, Canada

      I had no idea W. H. Auden's father was a medical professional. That quote of his is awesome! I totally agree that we need to listen to that inner voice of ours and that we must must MUST educate ourselves. Thanks for sharing this well-written hub. Voted up!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for that comment, Mattforte. Opting for suppression of symptoms in a "quick fix" mindset, folks wind up owning and managing an on-going dis-ease. The care part of health care rests first with our caring for our bodies as you have nicely pointed out. :)

    • mattforte profile image

      Steven Pearson 

      7 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      I must agree. Here in America people are relying way too much on their insurance to keep them healthy, rather than actually taking care of their bodies. As a result we have this weight epidemic, causing massive numbers of diabetic patients, among other problems. This drives up the cost of healthcare, then those same people contributing to the problems are the ones telling the government to do something about it.


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