Many people consider themselves healthy because they have no visible signs of disease, e.g., persistent headaches, bad breath, blood-shot eyes with puffy lids, dizziness, or aches and pains. But does an absence of disease necessarily mean you are brimming over with health and vitality?
We’ve been conditioned to look for signs of ill health in ourselves, but perhaps our time would be better spent looking for signs of health. What are the signs and symptoms indicative of mental, spiritual and physical good health?
Habits which lead to well being (e.g., eating whole, unprocessed foods, adequate sleep, regular exercise, etc.) are important because out of such habits your pattern of health is formed. Let’s take inventory of your present well being. Reflect on each of the signs and whether your answer is yes, no or occasionally:
- One of the first signs of health is the constant feeling of well being, as if energy is brimming over from the moment you get up until the end of the day.
- How quickly do you heal? Do you heal more quickly than other people, or faster than what your doctor initially might have predicted after an accident, an operation, a sprain or a bout of acute illness? The faster the recovery, the healthier you are.
- When you wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep, are you ready and willing to be on the move instantly? A long period of semi-wakefulness and wanting to hug the bed for a few more minutes are not signs of vigor, but gradual loss of vitality.Do you feel like running or get an urge to move faster when you could just as well walk or dawdle? The oftener you get this urge to step-it-up as it were, the healthier you are (Note: wanting to move faster because you’re nervous or hyper, however, is not the same as the healthy urge to move faster…)
- When you see your reflection in a mirror, is your posture firm and erect? Good posture without any conscious attempt to correct it is a reflection of health.
- Are you able to perform all the normal daily movements in the course of your day to day living without feeling you are in any way straining yourself or feeling uncomfortable? Flexibility is a good sign of health. If all your joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments are supple and flexible, it is indicative of health.
- If you have to run for a bus or walk a distance of a few miles because you have missed the train or bus, are you winded or have little stamina for sustained effort? If so, the chances are that you are below par in health.?
- How acute is your sense of sight? smell? hearing? Enjoying the subtle sights, smells and sounds around you is a sign of good health.
- Next, pinch up your flesh. Is it firm and solid, or flabby, with the skin wrinkled and
full of fat and sagging flesh? The former is an indication of health. Healthy tissue is
- Next, hold out your hand and with the other, press slightly with the thumb on the reverse side to the palm. Observe how long it takes for the mark of the thumb on the skin to vanish. In healthy individuals it is almost instantaneous as soon as the pressure is off, indicating good circulation.
- At the end of your usual day, do yo go to sleep almost as soon as your head touches the pillow? Under normal circumstances, this is a good indication of health. The ability to relax and fall asleep is often seen in healthy children, but seldom in adults.
- When someone hurts your feelings, e.g., you feel jilted, patronized or ridiculed, do you recover your usual optimistic outlook within a few days? This indicates how quickly your feelings heal and is equivalent in the emotional field to how quickly your flesh heals after an injury.
- Now we come to the question of guilt. Suppose you have done something silly or foolish or wrong. How quickly do you forgive yourself? Soon after the act – or do you nurse the guilt for days and months? A healthy person learns from this mistake, chalks it up to experience and proceeds serenely to life’s further adventures.
- Are you gregarious? That is, do you enjoy the company of people, party time, going to dances, theaters? Socializing is an assessment of your temperament as it relates to health and disease. Researchers call this type of temperament Beta and it is compatible with an unusual degree of resistance to physical and mental stress (Note: of course, a compulsion to live constantly in the “fast lane” is a different story….)
- Are you able to stick to any current development in your life which you’ve undertaken, to enhance your abilities, to accomplish something which you think is important in your life? Stickability is an indication of good mental health.
- Are you adventurous? Do you sign off projects which you have never tried before or back off an outing or adventure suggested by a friend? Life is a gamble and there are occasions when one must take the “bull by the horns.” Professor Alan Watts, in his excellent book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, talks about the ability to meet life anew from moment to moment and say “yes” to life as an indication of good emotional health.
- Do you express anger when annoyed or perversely disturbed? Or are you in the habit of bottling up your frustrations and anger at some stupidity? The former is a sign of good health. Just as it is healthy to express one’s joy, it is also right to express one’s disappointment, anger and frustration. This does not mean you have to explode every time. The happy mean is a healthy sign, showing you have the capacity to be tolerant.
- Do you laugh and smile frequently? i.e., does your face light up spontaneously when you meet someone or think of something funny from your store of memories? A spontaneous smile at a passing neighbor or child, at reading a comic strip or amusing story are all indicative of well being.
- Do you love yourself? In other words, do you accept who you are with all your faults and virtues? A healthy man or woman is a person who embraces the truth with humor and humility. An overly self-critical attitude is indicative of continuous conflict within oneself and detrimental to physical and mental health.
- Are you a relatively happy person? Happiness is what health is all about.
- Last but not least, do you have the capacity to love, i.e., do you love someone very much – not necessarily a sexual relationship – a child, a friend, a relative – in a caring, unselfish way. This is a true sign of health and one of the great joys of being alive!