Introduction: Global Wellness Day
Global Wellness Day (GWD). GWD was founded by a woman in Turkey named Belgin Aksoy. It is intended to encourage healthier, happier lives. Ms. Aksoy is the creative director of the Richmond Nua Wellness Spa in Lake Sapanca, Turkey. For two years, this spa has hosted wellness day festivals now and then. The GWD, intended to become an annual event, is already backed by volunteers in at least 30 nations, with support from influential spa leadership groups, such as the Global Spa and Wellness Summit (GSWS).
GWD will be celebrated on Saturday, June 13.
The idea of linking a single day to a grand goal of a better life seems fatally optimistic and hopelessly hopeful. Fortunately, GWD is not about dramatic conversions; rather, it’s intended simply to encourage more people to take modest steps that provide good experiences, both physically and mentally.
The leaders and those who support GWD have modest expectations. They do no think celebrating a global wellness day will bring peace to the Middle East or harmony and understanding elsewhere, or sympathy and trust abounding or other Age of Aquarius pie-in-the-sky outcomes. Nor will a global wellness day feed the hungry or inspire Vladimir Putin or other totalitarians to embrace yoga, meditation, the healing arts or other pleasantries on offer at destination resorts around the world. The GWD enthusiasts are not lunatics.
Participants are optimistic, however, in other modest ways. The initial goal is simply to increase awareness of sound health practices. Eventually, the goals might expand to shaping public policies that support educational initiatives and environmental actions conducive to living well. The reality at present, for far too many, is that the odds are stacked high against well being. GWD proceeds despite social, political and economic realities around the globe that are anything but wellness friendly.
A Call for Input from the German Wellness Association
Lutz Hertel is the President of the German Wellness Association and a recognized leader in the spa industry in Europe. He is a good friend and a strong advocate for REAL wellness. Lutz also serves as one of a dozen or so ambassadors for GWD.
As a friend and supporter of the German Wellness Association, I got a request from Mr. Hertel to suggest seven steps that the Association might shape into steps for GWD promotions. Naturally, I accepted the challenge and made sure that each of the steps would promote REAL, not ersatz wellness (e.g., risk reduction actions such as stop smoking).
In a message to Lutz, I noted that the initial seven steps identified by the GWD leaders did not go to the essence of REAL wellness. They might be sensible enough for other advances (e.g., environmental awareness, building community, energy conservation, etc.) but the seven steps did not address REAL wellness values.
Here are the initial seven steps produced by the GWD leaders and sent to the 30 nations representatives for comment and expansion, if desired.
- Walk one hour
- Drink more water
- Don’t use plastic bottles
- Eat organic, locally sourced produce
- Do a good deed
- Eat a family dinner
- Go to bed at 10:00 PM
I suggested the German Wellness Association lead the way in promoting REAL wellness, not the common health education bromides that were all too familiar but still ineffective (e.g., walk one hour daily).
So, to promote REAL wellness, I offered not one but two sets of seven steps: the first would be substantive but too lengthy and complex for the likely expectations and desires of the GWD folks; the second would be short and sweet-but still entail seven REAL wellness steps.
Seven Long and Seven Short Steps for GWD
The long-version of suggestions are full-bodied steps that address all four dimensions of REAL wellness. This means wellness steps that are positive (not focused on a problem), life-enriching and quality-boosting for well-being advances. These steps go beyond an increased awareness of living well; they entail action steps.
- Consider the reliability, rationality and respectability of decisions and beliefs founded on reason, science, evidence and empiricism as contrasted with decisions and beliefs founded on unsupported claims, faith, superstition and the supernatural-and decide to learn and practice critical thinking skills.
- Resolve to live life enriched with exuberance-seek out experiences that provide meaning and purpose and engender happiness, joy, love, gratitude, kindness and peace at every opportunity, throughout nearly each and every day.
- Commit to physical fitness at every stage of life-find ways to exercise daily in ways that build and maintain your endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.
- Choose foods that not only provide enjoyment but also nourish and sustain optimal functioning of body systems-to the extent possible favor unprocessed, locally grown whole-foods that are primarily if not entirely plant-based.
- Liberate yourself from customs, traditions, cultures, creeds, dogmas and other barriers to enjoying the freedoms required to live life in a manner of your choosing.
- Recognize that living well in accordance with the previous five steps is something most people cannot manage, that you probably cannot manage, either, unless you fully appreciate how formidable are the barriers to overcome-and thereby firmly resolve and plan to be an exception to the rule, to defy the odds and succeed at achieving, and sustaining, a REAL wellness-enriched level of existence.
- Fill your days with WOs – that is, wellness orgasms. These are little pleasures, delights and moments of exuberance.
These are, of course, longer than the GWD leaders expect or invite but the German Wellness Association, in the spirit of REAL wellness, should not restrict its members hopes and enhanced aspirations to the lower denominators. In its GWD contributions, it must set a higher standard, going beyond mediocrity to excellence and truth-telling (e.g., see #6, above).
Yet, a simple version should be offered, as well, perhaps a starter set that is short and sweet. Here, then, are entry level steps in the German Wellness Association edition of what might be called The 7 Step REAL Wellness Manifesto for Global Wellness Day. Those who like the entry level steps can, for a fuller understanding of what each entails, move along to the next level. That would be the first list, the more detailed and challenging steps provided for those who wish to go beyond preliminary, prerequisite steps.
- Favor reason over superstition, science over faith.
- Choose happiness at every opportunity – pick up every jewel of joy that can be found in your path.
- Exercise daily – no excuses.
- Choose a plant-based, whole foods diet to the extent possible.
- Think about what it means to be free – and choose liberty.
- Know that living well is not easy – if it were, everyone would be doing it.
- As far as we know, this is the only life you get – embrace every moment, treasure every day.
A Reassessment and Return to the Drawing Board
Lutz Hertel was in favor of the two lists but pointed out that the GWD manifesto must be designed as an action plan for just one day, namely, June 13. Therefore, the lists I offered needed to be converted into precise, practical doings. As Lutz put it: This is the level of concreteness necessary if the German Wellness Association list is to be adopted by lay persons and total beginners.
So, a new, third list for GWD was created, organized by REAL wellness dimensions.
Steps for Global Wellness Day
R – Reason
- On this special day, reduce your exposure to the mass media, particularly advertising and information about celebrities, sports, crime and obituaries. With the time saved, Google the name of a well-regarded expert known for promoting reason and science (e.g., Rolf Dobelli No News) and enjoy reading at least one essay on critical thinking.
- Refrain from choosing any goods today that are wastefully packaged that, in the aggregate, diminish the quality of the environment.
E – Exuberance
- Bring to mind a set of three different aspects of your life. Make a list of 3 achievements, 3 qualities you like about yourself and 3 reasons reasons life is good.
- Now stand in front of a mirror, read your list aloud and smile appreciatively at yourself for ten seconds.
- One additional thing to do today that will contribute to a sense of exuberance-bestow on someone else, a friend or even a stranger, a pleasant surprise.
A – Athleticism
- Move your body for one hour on this special day. Do so in a manner that is somewhat challenging and enjoyable.
- Prepare a warm, plant-based meal with fresh ingredients-and share it with someone.
L – Liberty
- Do something enjoyable that you ordinarily would not allow yourself to do, something that seems exciting that might be fun. Choose something that’s legal and won’t trouble or infringe on the rights of anyone else.
- As you complete each of these GWD challenge steps, smile and exclaim: I say ‘YES’ to REAL wellness!
Why wait for GWD? You can do any or all of these things today and other things like these simple steps every other day. Chances are you have far more opportunities and options along these lines than most, so make the most of your chances for a REAL wellness lifestyle every day, including June 13.