Health: There is potential to be realized in each day

Move beyond what is wrong to what can be great

When we are young, our potentials may seem vast. Choosing a career can be a daunting task for the young.

When I’m counselling my own children, my young patients and others at a crossroads in their studies or careers, I draw them the four intersecting circles Steven Covey conceived in his book The Eighth Habit — your passions, your talents, your values and the needs of the world.

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Where these four circles intersect is your calling.

Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss,” heed the call and do what you were meant to do. When you listen to life and rise up to meet the challenge, you will find meaning and purpose.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

But the call can change throughout our lives. We may receive the calling to a profession or mission in early adulthood or even in mid-life. Your calling at age 26 may be to be the best parent you can be to your child. When your career is established, your calling may be of generativity — what can you give forward to others and to the future?

Joseph Campbell also said, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Each day, there are opportunities to follow-through on the impulse to perform an act of kindness or to give a word of encouragement, a thank you or a helping hand to someone in need. There is a positive potential to be realized in each day. We must see, feel and act.

Your positive potential for health

How do you define health?

Many think of health as the absence of disease; indeed, healthcare is then seen as the treatment of illness or injury. I see that as a negative and reactive approach to wellbeing.

I see health as the dynamic balance of the important areas of your life (your body, your emotions, your environment, your family, your social relationships, your vocation, your mind and your spirit) and the achievement of your positive potential in each of these areas.

What that positive potential is begins with an understanding of your strengths and challenges in each area and guided by your own values, moves towards your own personal goals.

Considering your family relationships, you could ask, “What are my greatest goals and what is my ideal vision for my family?” We have to move beyond what is wrong to what can be great.

When I chaired the Ethical Resources Committee at Burnaby Hospital, I would ask the question, “Given the medical facts and this individual’s values, what is the right course of action? What is the positive potential of this patient’s situation?” What is the best we can do for this individual?

In the presence of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, we can empower individuals with education and professional support so that they remain in control and experience the best quality of life on their own terms.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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