Ok I confess, I’m a word nerd. There was a time in my now dimmed past when my fav way to spend a Sunday morning involved a toke, a dance around the lounge to a most sexy and inspiring tune, and then an hour or so following the trails of words thorough my very heavy version of the Aussie Oxford English.
Hmmm, scintillating you’re thinking. But if you don’t feel that delicious pull of adventures in wordland, if you don’t feel entire eras and archaic mindsets evoked by a bit of etymology, well I guess I just have to convince you how exciting it really is…
Because this means you’ve not felt that sensation of vistas opening onto entirely new worlds when you break down a word and find not only a meaning but a foundational brick in our fabricated reality.
Let’s take something simple like ‘disease’…
When I first realised that this was in fact dis-ease, I saw something that was known to our apparently dimwitted ancestors (dim that is if we believe the modern scientific perspective on those pre-enlightened folk) – our health is entirely related to our sense of ease in the world.
A truth that is blindingly obvious for the commonsensical mind (I’d like to say something on common sense too – but I’ll save that for another time).
And yet, and yet, as I was PhD-researching to prove this common sense belief I shared with my English-speaking ancestors that health was intimately connected to how at ease we feel, all I could find was some cautious studies tiptoeing around ‘maybe positive thinking affects people’s ability to heal from cancer’. Tepid stuff.
Otherwise I was in the woo-whoa land of freaky science that gets those internet skeptics all het up (you know the ones I mean – the kind that like to come over all righteous, and break out in hives when someone somewhere in the interworld starts talking about miracle cures).
And, well, freaky science doesn’t gel in the Sandstone Universities. So I didn’t progress my PhD much on that point – just a few allusions.
Oh and there was Herbert Benson.
So that’s why I got excited when Lissa Rankin’s book Mind Over Medicine arrived in the post.
Thank goddess she’s done all the hard work and found all the evidence for me, cos my brain just could not get around those medical journal abstracts, far less their reports.
If you’ve been under a bushel and haven’t heard, Lissa tracks down the hard science, and the home truths, then weaves it into a tasty dish of soft values – the kind that makes skeptics break out in rashes.
Bottom line, our bodymind has a remarkable ability to self-heal from extreme diseases.
Yes, the hard-core ones like cancer, HIV, kidney disease etc. And it’s not just up to us either. It’s also about the nurturing care we receive from the experts we trust – whether medical doctors, or other healers.
In other words it’s a personal and collective effort.
All of which is a long winded way to say that if health is connected to ease and trust (trusting ourselves, trusting our doctors, trusting in powers greater than ourselves) then it helps to be relaxed about how we do it.
So what’s all this stuff about working on wellness?
Wellness is a state, stasis, staying that way – wellness has overtones of perfectionism.
There’s a sense that I get from wellness that if I can just get there I will have reached some goal, some pinnacle. And then what? When do we ever reach a point and stay there? Like many people I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I get all kinda freaked out about reaching goals, cos then I must get onto the next one.
It can get me caught up in this ‘never enough’ cycle.
Wellbeing on the other hand is a verb pretending to be a noun, which means it’s a process, an ongoing action.
Existing with good fortune, well-fare or happiness. Having an experience. Not trying to hold onto a state.
It means we’re not looking at ‘getting somewhere’, we’re already always in it. It happens every time we feel good about something, even the smallest, the simplest things, every time we share a giggle about something silly, or stand up and stretch and feel the warm blood running through our muscles.
In every small moment we can be in the process of being well. Not this stuff about striving to get to some point of perfection and then holding on so we don’t loose that place.
So that’s why I’m avoiding wellness. Instead I’m focusing on wellbeing.
Sure it’s just a word-shift, but many times a simple word can change gears in our subconscious mind.
Tell me what do you think about the power of words? Do you have any favourite word-shifts or word-sources that have changed the way you think about things? I’d love to know – please leave a comment below…