What is Health
By River "Fossil" Cox
While a broad term, health evokes a clear stream of thought in our minds. This vision is different for everyone but in general, we think of maintaining a natural and diverse diet, maintaining regular exercise, and avoiding toxic and dangerous behaviours. Splitting up a concept into many smaller ideas can be a useful method of focusing on the topic. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be a reasonable outline for us.
At the base of the pyramid is the most important and when we lack it, it becomes our primary focus. These needs are physical. Ensuring our physical health can open up our psychology for further development. We can do this by developing small habits that accumulate like brushing your teeth, exercising, and eating healthier foods in appropriate portions.
When our physical needs are met, we can more effectively focus on the rest of what Maslow describes as basic needs. Feelings safe and secure is the next up on the pyramid and thus is also a more complex problem to solve. It can be as simple as familiarity with a place or group of people but, it can be cluttered by insecurities and uncertainties. These can be remedied by putting yourself in a more comfortable space and practicing ways to reduce anxiety like spending time outside and letting go of expectations of yourself and the world around you.
Beyond the basic needs are the psychological needs, which is further split into belongingness and esteem. Healing from a lack of belongingness can be arduous but is well worth it. People can’t help but seek out a group who they feel a part of. Even if that means changing themselves, it is preferential to being alone in many cases. The internet has had an interesting impact on this part of our health. It can be a way that people find a community of like minded people and thus can feel loved and connected. Although, it can also be a place of hateful arguing, cyberbullying, and a distraction from the real world and the outdoors.
Our esteem is our personal view of ourselves which is built through our accomplishments through our own lense and from the perspective of the people whose opinions we care about. We can improve our esteem by sticking to our own ideas of ourselves. By betraying who we believe we are, we lose a bit of our health. We can also improve our esteem by shifting whose opinions we care about, which is easier said than done.
Finally, at the top of the pyramid is self actualization, or the desire to grow and become who you want to be. This is the most difficult to achieve because it requires the individual to have achieved more than decent health in the rest of the pyramid, an understanding of what you want to be, and the will power to actually take steps towards it. Don’t let this discourage you though. While good health in the rest of the pyramid will accelerate your self actualization, the first steps are well before you might say you have good health. Being healthy is not a destination, it is a never ending process and mindset.