If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you’re engaged in your own personal development and well-being, in both body and mind (because they’re not separate). The WHO defines wellbeing as “a state of complete physical, mental, relational and social health and not merely the absence of disease, infirmity or adversity”.
In this article, I’ll be covering off on these different aspects of wellbeing. And how you can apply a framework of different perspectives to your health and wellbeing that integrates all aspects of your reality, so that you can achieve your health goals in a holistic and integrated way. In this article will be some questions that will invite awareness in terms of what you can consider from each different perspective.
We’ll be exploring this through Integral Theory and the work of Ken Wilber and the Four Quadrants.
|The Four Quadrants|
By using Integral Theory and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) we understand that a significant part of wellbeing and personal development is bringing awareness to the habitual structures that have you so that you can release yourself from them. These habits have a tendency to run us, keep us doing the things we don’t want to do that aren’t quite working so well for us anymore. If it was, you wouldn’t be reading this article so something isn’t quite working as it could.
Interested? Then let’s get into it!
Your interior (mind)
The first component part of an integrated approach to your wellbeing is to address the state and quality of your mental health.
So many times I’ve experienced people (myself included) trying to change behavioural patterns like exercise, eating or sleeping without addressing their frames of mind about them. What tends to happen as a result is making health and wellbeing a priority when it becomes a concern (like falling ill, being overweight or preparing for a wedding). But when people experience results from their healthy habits and the meaning they have originally brought to wellbeing falls away, it becomes less of a concern and is no longer a priority.
Has this happened to you before?
If so, you have the opportunity and capacity to change the way you think about your health and wellbeing and therefore your mind, body, and emotional state experience (the mark of a high level of emotional intelligence).
How? Here are a few things to consider:
- Changing the meaning you bring to your experience.
The more meaningful something is in your life, the more motivation you’ll experience about it from the inside out. Are you exercising to lose weight or because you want a better quality of life so that you can engage in your life without feeling so tired? From NLP, we know that changing your meaning changes your attitude – this in itself will shift your experience, results and performance.
- Your sense of self (identity).
Do you say things like “I’m the kind of person who has tried dieting and exercising before it’s never worked” or “I don’t want to look silly in the gym infront of other people”? If being unhealthy (for example) is part of your identity, change will be slow, painful and difficult.
- Your appreciation and valuing of you.
The most important person in your life is… You. Do you find yourself doing more for others than for yourself? How has it worked for you so far? How is it going to work for you in the long run? Taking care of yourself will ultimately enable you to take care of others in a more empowering way.
Your relationships (relating)
The second component part of an integrated approach to your wellbeing is to address the state and quality of your relationships.
Your relationships can play a powerful and important role in the context of your health and wellbeing. As an example in many cultures around the world it is quite normal to connect, relate, bond, spend time with, and catch up with friends and family over food! As human beings, committed to developing themselves, it can be quite important to surround yourself with like-minded people who can support you along the way.
Have you considered how the quality of your relationships impact upon your health and wellbeing?
Have you ever had the experience in your life where you were surrounded by a community of like-minded people who were just as committed and passionate as you are? Did this make your experience easier or harder? Did you feel supported, understood and in it together? Because that’s what I’m referring to. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your relationships need to be a mirror for what you want – but you can improve the quality of your relationships to improve the quality of your wellbeing.
How? Here are a few things to consider:
- Your experience and connection with other people.
Do you have people in your life who can support you, accept you as you are and what you do – or are you going it alone? What is the quality of your relationships and do they serve you? What can you do differently if they don’t?
- The meanings you share with each of them.
What is the nature of the relationship you have with other people? Do you share your commitment to your health and wellbeing with people as an opportunity to connect and relate with them? Are your relationships supportive, encouraging, competitive or collaborative?
- Your ability to meet and be with other people where they are.
And given all of that, what is the part you play in your relationships, given they are a two way street? Can you and do you accept others for who and how they are in service of them, or do you constantly try to change them?
Your exterior (body)
The third part of an integrated approach to your wellbeing is to address the state and quality of your physical health.
Let’s say you have all the right attitude, frames of mind, beliefs, identity and meanings in place – none of that will do any good for your health and well-being if you don’t actually DO anything about it. As I’ve said before you’ve never had a body without a mind or a mind without a body – they’re not separate, and yet we treat them as two different things sometimes!
Have you worked on developing yourself but neglected your physical well-being at times?
If so, you have the opportunity and capacity to take what you know to what you embody, enact and apply what you know to what you do about your health and wellbeing and ultimately build the awareness of body, the vehicle of you.
How? Here are a few things to consider:
- Your experience of your physical self.
Do you experience your physical self as tired, lazy, overweight or unhealthy? Or are you vital and full of energy in your everyday life? Is your current way of being and doing facilitating more of that or less of it?
- Your energetic states.
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your states, moment by moment. Take a moment to notice, what is your energetic state as you read this? In NLP, one of the things we cover is that what you think determines how you feel, and thus determines how you react or respond. What is your “default” energetic state? The one you wake up with on a daily basis, and how does this colour your experience?
- Your awareness of your physical body.
Ultimately, developing what is called “Somatic Awareness” or awareness of the body. If I were to ask you, what does the experience of hunger, fatigue or excitement actually FEEL like in the body, how accurately could you describe it? If you can, how accurately can you see it arising in you, in the moment? Or in the face of another person or situation?
Your worlds (social and environmental)
The fourth component part of an integrated approach to your wellbeing is to address the state and quality of your social health.
Your environment can be quite influential to the success or failings of your overall health and wellbeing, up to a point. It is the most complex and involved aspect, taking into consideration so many different things in your environment.
Have you considered optimising your environmental conditions towards greater wellbeing and harmony, as well as functional fit?
You have the opportunity and capacity to take what you know to what you know, how you relate and what you do. And to factor in all the different component parts of your environment to optimise the conditions for you to achieve your health and wellbeing goals by creating, using and implementing strategies and systems.
As a starting point here are some things to consider:
- Your capacity to see systemically of how everything fits (or doesn’t fit).
Functional fit, of your actions and behaviours within your environment, relationships, your day, week and weekends – what do you want to say yes to and what do you say no to? How do things like exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, relationships, beliefs, time of day, work, relationships and social circles fit into the contexts of your health and well-being?
- Your ability to optimise your environments (home and work) toward greater well-being and harmony.
Given systemically what fits or doesn’t fit, how can you can optimise the conditions for success? As an example, what food do you have in your kitchen? Are you tired after work? Would it be easier to exercise in the morning? Are you working with a coach or trainer? What plans and strategies do you have in place that will affect your health and wellbeing and how will you know that you’re on track?
- Integrating all 4 perspectives.
By considering all 4 perspectives you can move from a partial approach to a holistic approach that honours every part of you. Instead of focusing on a single outcome or aspect, are you able to address, develop and consider all four of these significant life areas in service of your health and wellbeing?
Bringing it all together
So now that we’ve covered off on all the component parts of an integrative approach to health and wellbeing, what you can expect if you take all of these perspectives on – either one at a time or all at once – is:
- Improved and sustainable health and wellbeing
- Greater quality of personal and professional life
- Deeper relationships with other people
- More congruence with yourself
- Healthier physical self
- Knowledge of how you have limited yourself with your mind
- Knowledge of how to empower yourself with your mind
- More self-discipline
- More frequent states of Joy and Contentment
- More fully own your own powers of mind, emotions, voice and behaviors
- Access to unlimited intrinsic motivation
- Get to genuinely smile more
Would that be something that you’d like?
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