6 Practical Ways to Inspire the Wellness Within You – Psychology Today

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Ego and self-serving biases shape the life story we share with the world—and with ourselves. The good news: An internal reckoning will help us better comprehend who we truly are.
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Posted December 2, 2021 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma
In a Flourishing in the Second Half of Life class I facilitate, we talked about rethinking possibilities for health and well-being. Someone asked, “What about chronic illness?” This is a question that many of us prefer not to think about. And while not all of us will confront chronic illness, many will face challenges to health and well-being during our lifetimes.
The World Health Organization constitution states: “Health is a state of complete positive physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (2018).
The capacity to look at our lives, our lifespans, and our finite existence is one of the factors that differentiates humans from other species and offers choices for understanding and navigating day-to-day experience.
Your thoughts, beliefs, expectations, and actions are important components of well-being and health. Harvard professor and cardiologist, Herbert Benson, MD, founder of the Mind-Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, has pointed out the interconnections between mind-body-spirit and health. Benson calls this remembered wellness, the potential contributions to health that stem from awakening to the original state of well-being that is fundamental to your existence (1995;1996).
Positive psychology studies the factors that contribute to a healthy, thriving life. In 2008, Martin Seligman, Ph.D., a leader in positive psychology, proposed a new field – Positive Health – focusing on enhancing health to increase well-being, improve outcomes from illness, and decrease health costs (Seligman, 2008). In a review of positive psychology interventions in chronic physical illness, Ghosh and Deb write (2016) “positive health focuses on enhancing health along with curing illness to bring about well-being.” While evidence is not conclusive that positive psychology interventions can lead to better health outcomes, these strategies can influence people to think, feel, and behave in more positive and healthy ways (Park, Peterson, and colleagues, 2014).
More than a century ago, the first osteopathic physician, A.T. Still, founder of osteopathic medicine, declared “To find the health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find the disease” (A.T. Still 1892, 72 in Lee, 2005).
Bernadette Goheen Kohn, DO, an osteopathic physician and assistant professor at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, says “Remember who you are.” Noting that no matter the physical condition, according to Dr. Kohn, “We all need to remember that we are not an illness or a diagnosis. We are mind, body, and spirit (triune). It’s important to keep in mind that the body inherently repairs, maintains, and heals from within.”
These integrated approaches are reminders that you are a powerful partner in creating and optimizing your own well-being. How can you take a more active role in promoting your health and confronting health challenges as they may arise?

1. Learn about positive health practices to promote greater health, well-being, and resilience, and that can help you optimize treatments and procedures during health challenges. For example: Read information from reliable sources. Talk to friends and experts about pro-health habits and self-care practices, such as proper nutrition, meditation, relaxation, physical activity, good sleeping habits, and positive psychology strategies.
2. When it comes to behavior change, once is usually not enough. Sustained practice of positive habits and lifestyle changes are more likely to produce positive outcomes than single, one-shot efforts (Park et al, 2014). Experiment with positive health behaviors, habits, and changes. Then stick with those that work for you.
3. Pay attention to and advocate for your own health and wellbeing. Listen to your body. You might choose to consult with professionals. For example, physicians, nutritionists, naturopaths, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychotherapists, health-wellness coaches, exercise trainers, acupuncturists, mindfulness coaches, yoga teachers.
4. The benefits of mindfulness can be transformative. Mindfulness and training in meditation are linked to improvements in health (Park et al, 2014; Davidson, RJ, Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J. et al, 2003). In his book, The Relaxation Response (2000), Benson explains how meditation can reduce the stress reaction, contributing to improving wellness.
5. Pay attention to positive experiences and events. This simple process that positive psychology researchers call savoring can improve wellbeing. Savoring involves noticing and thinking about even the simplest positives. Writing about the positives in your life or what you’re thankful for offers a structure to help you pause, notice, and focus on what brings you joy and meaning (Ghosh & Deb, 2017; Seligman, 2011; Lyubomirsky, 2008).
6. Create space to explore your spirit and spirituality. Humans possess a reservoir of spirit, life force, and remembered wellness to tap into. Spirituality is a universal theme that crosses time and cultures and can offer powerful, transformational possibilities. Spirituality can help you build resilience during stressful situations, and stimulate a sense of meaning and purpose, hope, and wellbeing (Bozek, et al, 2020; Fallah, et al 2011; Benson, 1996). Consider practices such as prayer, contemplation, meditation, singing, chanting, or becoming involved in a spiritual community.
What are your next steps toward strengthening your health and well-being?
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified healthcare or mental healthcare professional.
Benson, H. (2000). The relaxation response. New York, NY: Avon.
Benson, H. (1996). Timeless healing: The power and biology of belief. New York, NY: Scribner.
Bożek, A., Nowak, P. F., & Blukacz, M. (2020). The relationship between spirituality, health-related behavior, and psychological well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1997.
Davidson, RJ, Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J. et al (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2006(65), 564-570.
Fallah, R., Golzari, M., Dastani, M., & Akbari, M. E. (2011). Integrating spirituality into a group psychotherapy program for women surviving from breast cancer. Iranian Journal of Cancer Prevention, 4(3), 141.
Greitens, E. (2015). Hard-won wisdom. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Goleman, D., & Davidson, R. J. (2017). Altered traits: Science reveals how meditation changes your mind, brain, and body. New York, NY: Penguin.
Ghosh, A., & Deb, A. (2017). Positive psychology interventions for chronic physical illnesses: A systematic review. Psychological Studies, 62(3), 213-232.
Lee, R.P. (2005). Interface: Mechanisms of spirit in osteopathy. Portland, Oregon: Stillness Press.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Park, N., Peterson, C., Szvarca, D., Vander Molen, R. J., Kim, E. S., & Collon, K. (2016). Positive psychology and physical health: Research and applications. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 10(3), 200-206.
Seligman, M.E.P. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology: An International Review. 57, 3-18.
World Health Organization (2018). Mental health: strengthening our response. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response
Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD, is a life and leadership coach. She writes about navigating personal and professional life with resilience, meaning, mindfulness, and well-being.
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Psychology Today © 2021 Sussex Publishers, LLC
Ego and self-serving biases shape the life story we share with the world—and with ourselves. The good news: An internal reckoning will help us better comprehend who we truly are.


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