When It Comes to Wellness, Put Your Whole Self In

Children's songs are some of my favorite music because there is a simplicity and silliness to many children's songs that makes them infectious and fun to sing.  Just reading the words, "If you're happy and you know it..."  probably has you singing along in your head right now, and perhaps even getting ready to clap your hands. There is one children's song, The Hokey Pokey, that has always been my favorite.  I play guitar and I love to sing for both children and elders, and both groups seem to love to sing this song, getting up and moving as able, whenever they hear it.  Of course, we never just sing The Hokey Pokey, we do The Hokey Pokey.  This fun combination of singing and moving is probably why this song is so memorable.

As we all know, The Hokey Pokey begins by inviting us to "put our right hand in," and then to take it out, put it back in, and shake it all about.  After that we are directed to do the Hokey Pokey and then turn ourselves about.  The song progresses from there by inviting us to put our left hand in, and then our right leg and left leg, and then our head, and the favorite verse for children-put our "backside" in. The song builds up to the final verse where we are invited to put, "...our whole selves in."

So what does this children's song have to do with wellness? Whether or not you are the kind of person that makes resolutions, it is natural as we begin a new year, to take stock of our well-being and reflect on any changes that we might want to make. The Hokey Pokey reminds us that as we take stock of our lives, we are wise to not just put part of our selves in, but rather to "put our whole selves in." If we want to make a change, we are wise to look at how all the various dimensions for our wellness are interacting and affecting each other.

Let's say, for example, that a person sets a New Year's resolution to get more sleep because they are chronically tired and keep waking up during the night worrying about things. A wholistic, "putting your whole self in," approach to dealing with this problem would be to look at all dimensions of their wellness-physical, relational, emotional, spiritual, vocational, financial, and social. Observing themselves from all angles helps them to see that multiple factors are most likely contributing to their unwanted sleep pattern. A sleep disturbance could be caused by stress at work, stress in a relationship, underlying physical issues, financial worries, etc. and identifying the source of the problem is the first step towards creating more wellness.

This broader awareness might lead to a multi-pronged strategy, and a need to make changes in several areas of one's life. A more narrow approach would be to simply start taking sleep medication, which may temporarily relieve the symptoms, but will not  address the underlying causes.

Surveys show that most people are not successful in keeping resolutions to change. One reason may be because they are not "putting their whole selves in" and are not addressing the ways in which their various dimensions of wellness are interconnected.

I am not sure if simply doing The Hokey Pokey on a regular basis is, in and of itself, good for one's overall well-being but I am sure, though, that putting "our whole selves in," when resolving to make positive changes that affect our wellness, is what it's all about.