How to Survive the 21st Century—Part 1

DAVID GRIFFITHS

There are a multitude of factors which go to make up our overall health. Health should be defined not merely as the absence of disease but as a feeling of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual empowerment and wellbeing, which allows us to live our lives to their full potential. Our aim over the course of these articles is to both distill those elements of health to provide starting points for discussion, and then put some flesh on those bones. I’m very keen on using the pyramid below as a starting point to help people firstly to evaluate the strengths and gaps in their overall picture of health, and secondly to know which areas to focus on.

Health should be defined as a feeling of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual empowerment and wellbeing which allows us to live our lives to their full potential.

It’s important to understand that the wider climate in which we live our lives is just a snapshot in human history. Most of us can only conceive of life in terms of our own lifespan and our limited experience. Intellectually, we can understand the changes that have taken place since our parents’ generation, but inhabiting the feeling of what life was like “back then” is out of our reach. To put some perspective on this, as a species we’ve been around some two million years according to current scientific thinking: to experience that in totality would take 20 to 30 thousand lifetimes. Within the context of life on earth — about 3.8 billion years — humans have only been around for 1/2,000 of that time, nevertheless, some of our biochemical pathways massively pre-date us.

The success of a species depends on its ability to optimise its exploitation of the environment. We’ve made a success of exploiting our environment over millions of years only to radically alter it in just a few generations (and we are now exploiting it in the worst sense of the word). However, our core biochemistry remains largely the same. 

My intention as this blog develops is to expand upon the headings in this pyramid, look at how our relationship with them has changed over the years (and generations) and how we can regain a connection to our humanity and the planet that sustains us. We are landing vehicles on Mars, but do we really understand our own planet and our place in its ecosystems? We have access to the world’s information at our fingertips, but do we have true knowledge? We have access to a sophisticated, modern medical system, but does it make us healthier and more whole?

We are landing vehicles on Mars, but do we really understand our own planet and our place in its ecosystems?

The base of the pyramid might be summed up as emotional and spiritual wellness. Without these fundamentals in place our health will be compromised because other good habits will have less of an impact, and also because we will be less inclined to engage in those habits in the first place. Just think of the impact of three or four nights’ poor sleep: our relationships can suffer, our ability to focus and our productivity are compromised, our motivation to exercise and nourish ourselves decreases – and we may resort to pharmaceutical sleeping aids, which can have longer-term damaging side-effects. These are just a few of the potential knock-on effects of disturbing one element of the holistic health model.

We will be exploring all of these elements in more detail with the aim of providing the tools to manage health and wellbeing from a holistic perspective.

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