Image by Sarah Hope Marshall, author

Why You Should Understand the Difference Between Health and Wellness

Sarah Hope Marshall

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Health. The most valuable asset we own, and the asset we fail to properly identify until we have lack in it. This is true of most assets though. We think most about what we don’t have. When we are short on cash to pay a bill, it is nearly all we can think about. When our car is in the mechanic or we are looking for a new place to live, the focus of life temporarily becomes how to navigate the situation. When we suffer physically, it impacts us greatly. If we are fortunate, the physical pain is temporary. A sinus infection, stomach flu, or broken bone might derail us for a short period of time, but we can keep on going. Those incidents are usually not enough to cause to reflect on health.

When we have health, we can pursue our dreams. Health gives us the capacity to focus on what we care about — building a business, starting a family, traveling the world or simply going to work to pay our bills. Health affords us the illusion of time. When we are healthy, energy is abundant and opportunity is still available. Tomorrow is promised, or so it seems.

Health can be taken from us all at once or it can dissipate gradually like a mist we watch vanish. A disruptive injury or a chronic illness diagnosis can change the trajectory of our lives. When physical health goes, we realize what we had. And too often, we lose the identity we think makes us who we are. Identity can correspond to our ability to ‘do’ — such as a job title or role. We see ourselves as an executive or a working mom, an athlete, soccer coach or an after-school volunteer. Life becomes viewed through the lenses afforded by health.

This is why we need to center our lives on wellness. Wellness is the foundation of health. Wellness has been packaged and marketed to us in ways that reflect visible impressions of health. Whole industries exist to sell us wellness. These include fitness influencers, health clubs, supplements, superfoods, vitamins, weight loss systems and advertising that tells you if your body is small and your diet is perfect you will be happy.

Health can be leveraged into other resources. Being healthy does matter. Personal dedication to physical health is also a privilege that requires stability in other areas of life; safe affordable housing, a living wage, and…

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Sarah Hope Marshall

Founder: Profound Hope Industries. Helping individuals, organizations and community be well and do well through workshops, training, and consulting.