Wellness Defined

What do we mean by wellness?  

 Merriam-Webster’s Eleventh Edition defines “wellness” as the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.”  The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”   The key idea is that wellness is intentional – people decide to be well, stay well, or get well, depending on their current health condition. 

The concept of wellness encompasses every aspect of our lives as outlined in the Six Dimensions of Wellness model, developed by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute.  The model is generally accepted by the wellness community, encompassing the following dimensions:

1.  Physical – bodily health through exercise, nutrition, and abstaining from harmful activities, such as smoking.

2.  Emotional – emotional health through learning to recognize, express, and control feelings and moods

3.  Intellectual – mental health through developing creativity, learning ability, and problem-solving skills

4.  Occupational – job satisfaction through learning individual aptitudes and skills, and finding meaning in work.

5.  Social – community connections through learning the part we play in our interconnected world

6.  Spiritual – larger life questions through learning to choose and live by a set of values that give meaning to our lives

Three questions organizations can ask when assessing a wellness approach or initiative are:

1.  Does this help people achieve their full potential?

2.  Does this recognize and address the whole person (multi-dimensional approach)?

 3.  Does this affirm and mobilize people’s positive qualities and strengths?


About leaderwalk

Diane Thompson is principal of Thompson Performance Consulting and is a practitioner in the field of organization development and design. Diane has 25 years of management experience in private and public organizations and is a keen observer and student of organizational dynamics and the factors that impact high performance. Diane's direct experience as a manager and her body of knowledge from her MA, Human Systems Intervention, converge to support clients and leaders with transition and change.
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