Words of Wellness

July 26, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

Our Own Health Care Reform Plan

With all the talk about health care reform for our nation, it is a great opportunity to bring the discussion a little closer to home for each of us.† As we consider the pros and cons of any particular idea for reforming health care in America, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on our personal health care plan and see if a little personal reform is in order.††

†††† I believe the most important health care improvements both for our nation and for us as individuals, is to focus more energy and resources on whole-person wellness, prevention, and personal responsibility.† Our health care system is in many ways an "illness care" system.† We access the system only when we have symptoms of an illness, and the goal of the system is to get us back to a neutral, symptom-free point.

†††† Don't get me wrong:† there is certainly a need for this kind of care when illness strikes.† If I have pneumonia or high blood pressure or insomnia,† I want a doctor to treat it and get me symptom free as soon as possible;† but what if I have started to develop a chronic pattern of pneumonia or high blood pressure or insomnia?† Should I keep expecting the medical system to treat the symptoms, or should they start looking for an underlying problem?† What if I am stressed in my job, unhappy in my marriage, and/or feel I've lost a sense of purpose in life?† MIght there be a connection between my lack of wellness in these other dimensions in my life and my physical health?† Whole-person wellness considers at least six dimensions of wellness:† physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, vocational and intellectual.† For over two thousand years the Jewish and Christian scriptures have encouraged us to love God "with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul and all your strength."† Clearly they knew even then that heart, mind, soul and strength were unique dimensions of a whole person.

†††† So here is my own personal recommendation for a new approach to health care, both nationally and individually:††

1.† Develop a whole-person wellness approach to health care, treating all the†dimensions of our being equally, and

2.† Make a greater commitment to teaching and practicing daily wellness choices that will minimize our need to access medical care.††

†††† Traditional medicine's goal is to relieve suffering and symptoms and to help people survive.† The goal of whole-person wellness is to help people thrive.† As we continue to debate health care reform as a nation, let us take this opportunity to consider some whole person reform in our own lives.† Take stock of constant drains on your energy, stress that sours joyful events in your life, and the surges of energy that remind you how beautiful it is to be alive.† As we take such steps, we will be on our way (dare I say well on our way!) to embodying a deeper and fulfilling meaning of health and wellness.

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