The Meaning of Good Health
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is ‘a state of total physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease.’ A wide variety of other definitions have also been applied over the years. The current definition in the United States, approved in 1982, states that health is the ability to be capable of living a normal life in an orderly manner, at the same time free from serious disabilities affecting life. According to this definition, a person must not be impaired in ability to cope with society or a situation. He must have the capacity to follow an ordinary day to day activity. The person’s recovery from health problems should be on an independent scale and not influenced by a persons’ social conditions, work responsibilities or other occupational hazards.
Mental health is closely related to physical health but is often viewed as separate concepts. Although sometimes people with mild mental illness are said to be physically healthy, the two concepts often go together. Mental health can be defined as the capacity to live your life successfully despite any setback, regardless of the level of impairment. Mental disorders, as well as bodily ones, are often part of a complex mix of impairment resulting from causes such as genetics, brain injury, or emotional trauma. People with mental illnesses may also be regarded as physically unwell if they have severe health concerns apart from the ones already described.
Physical health is important, of course, but good health is also important from a psychological point of view. If you have an attitude that good health is something you must work towards, then good health is not something you can achieve without working. By contrast, a mindset that poor health is something you can achieve without working is likely to lead to an attitude that poor health is inevitable unless you make an effort to prevent it. Such a state of mind is conducive to fatalistic thinking and an inclination towards procrastination.
The link between the two is often illustrated by the example of two men living in the same town. One has developed a strong career-oriented attitude and the other has remained physically healthy, despite being overweight for most of his life. The overweight man eventually developed heart disease. The thin man, who remained physically healthy, kept a positive attitude and took no precautions to prevent the onset of the disease. The former died of a heart attack while the latter lived for many years thanks to prompt medical treatment.
A third definition of health would be an absence of sickness that also includes absence of disease. absence of disease is usually associated with physical neglect but it could also include emotional neglect, where people fail to seek medical attention for fear of stigma or embarrassment. It could also encompass social negligence, such as the failure to seek help from others when needed. Absence of disease could therefore also mean absence from physical environments that promote health, such as exercise, sunshine and fresh air.
The lack of a good health environment also contributes to mortality. People who are unhealthy usually suffer from a shortened lifespan compared to those who are physically healthy. Age-related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease are commonly associated with a poor quality of life. The good health we all deserve is not necessarily just within our grasp but requires much effort and attention. Being free from disease, as well as the other kinds of poor health mentioned earlier, may be as simple as changing your lifestyle, improving your diet and engaging in physical activities daily.