The World Health Organization defines health as: ”a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Health worsens with illness yet is incompletely defined by absence of disease. Instead, the Army’s slogan “the best you can be” notion applies to each individual’s state of health and “in spirit” should define the concept of health. Social, mental, physical, and even spiritual states of health or wellness of functioning can be improved and a healthy boldness promotes behaviors to improve functioning. The more you use it the more you boost it.
Every adult will experience serious threats to their health and those frightful experiences rapidly eclipse all other worldly concerns. Compared to serious illness, all other difficulties are secondary. We must recognize that health is very valuable. If you ask people a hypothetical question to determine their value of health, the answer is consistent and should not surprise. “If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and a possible cure was available, how much would you pay? Would you give up one of your two cars?” The answer always is, I would pay all I have and all I could borrow. Serious threats to our health are more vital than material possessions, by far.
Throughout recorded history, from Hippocrates two and a half millennia ago, medicine has focused on restoring health by treating illness-caused-by-disease and patients are prompted to seek medical attention when they sense that their well-being has changed. But counter to a very pervasive paradigm, subsistence health is not “all there is”.