Wednesday, May 26

What Is Wellness Anyway?

We had some friends over for dinner the other night. For their sake, I’ll disguise their names and call them “Matt” and “Melissa.”

During the evening I chatted excitedly about my blog. “It’s called The Wellness Project,” I told them.

“Ooh, that’s a terrible name,” Matt said, “I’d expect better from you Dianna.”

Stunned, I looked down and then shrugged my shoulders and stated, “Well, I like it.”

Realizing his gaff, Matt quickly back-peddled and said, “Oh, well, then it’s perfect.”

Matt’s from New Jersey, so his style is a bit different than mine. He’s more direct, obviously.

I, on the other hand, was schooled in the tradition of politeness over honesty. If you have a derogatory comment about someone you smile sweetly to their face and talk about them behind their back. I mean, that’s the polite thing to do. Right?

This blog is my baby. And while my baby might have an ugly name, it’s mine and I like it.

Thus, it occurred to me that not only is Matt direct, but he was never taught the social etiquette of baby names. Specifically, when you can and cannot give your opinion about an infant’s moniker. So, this is a public service announcement to my dear, slightly clueless friend.

First and foremost, you don’t ever—ever—criticize the name of someone’s baby after it’s already named. As soon as the ink dries on the birth certificate it’s a done deal. Keep your pie hole shut.

The time to offer your opinion is during the initial discussions. Or—Matt you might want to take notes here—if they ASK for your opinion. For example, when I was pregnant with my firstborn, we were considering the name Duncan if it was a boy. We asked some people what they thought and universally they responded, “You mean like Dunkin Donuts?” We crossed it off the list. No harm done.

So Matt, the next time your friend brings over her newly born son and proudly presents him stating, “We’ve decided to name him Bratwurst Zwiebel Schmitt, in honor of our German heritage.”

You smile sweetly and state simply, “I think that’s wonderful.”

You are definitely allowed to look across the room to Melissa, give her a knowing glance that says, “Good God, that poor kid is going to get his butt kicked on the playground.”

Melissa can softly mouth, “I know. What were they thinking?”

But you say nothing to your demented, sausage-loving friend.

However, it is appropriate, and also highly recommended in such instances, to bow your head and pray for the safety of little Bratwurst.

This is the end of my public service announcement. (Cue The More You Know music.)

After I got over the shock of Matt criticizing my choice of name, I tried to hear him out. Specifically, Matt’s point was, “What’s wellness mean anyway? It’s so arbitrary. It could mean something different to everyone.”

And that, my friends, is actually a fair point. defines wellness as: The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, esp. as the result of deliberate effort.

The National Wellness Association defines it similarly as "an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence,” and claims that six interrelated aspects of human life comprise wellness:

  • Emotional wellness refers to awareness, sensitivity, and acceptance of feelings and the ability to successfully express and manage one's feelings. Emotional wellness enables people to cope with stress, maintain satisfying relationships with family and friends, and assume responsibility for their actions.

  • Intellectual wellness emphasizes knowledge, learning, creativity, problem solving, and lifelong interest in learning and new ideas.

  • Occupational wellness relates to preparing for and pursuing work that is meaningful, satisfying, and consistent with one's interests, aptitudes, and personal beliefs.

  • Physical wellness is more than simply freedom from disease. The physical dimension of wellness concentrates on prevention of illness and encourages exercise, healthy diet, and knowledgeable, appropriate use of the health care system. Physical wellness requires individuals to take personal responsibility for actions and choices that affect their health.

  • Social wellness is acting in harmony with nature, family, and others in the community. The pursuit of social wellness may involve actions to protect or preserve the environment or contribute to the health and well-being of the community by performing volunteer work.

  • Spiritual wellness involves finding meaning in life and acting purposefully in a manner that is consistent with one's deeply held values and beliefs.


Matt’s right. Wellness is an ambiguous concept. But, the common denominator for me is that wellness is an active process about making choices to enhance the quality of your life. It’s about personal responsibility and commitment to achieve a well life. However you choose to define a “well life.”

For my emotional wellness, I’ve decided to forgive Matt, because I love him despite his directness and I appreciate his honesty. Plus, I got to roast him on my poorly named blog, which makes me happy.

Without knowing it Matt contributed to my intellectual, emotional, and occupational well-being. Good work Matty. What are you doing for dinner next Saturday? I need more material for my little Bratwurst.


  1. "Matt"May 26, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    Well, I guess I should consider myself lucky given the way you shredded that character 'John' the other day. (He was probably from New York). I don't recall using the word 'terrible'. But I don't recall a lot these days - so, mea culpa my friend. Glad I could provide you with a little 'inspiration'.

    Nice work on the blog, D! Your writing is excellent, as always. I like the inclusive way in which you describe 'wellness'. And I especially want to thank you for contributing to my social wellness. I'll be sure to talk behind peoples' backs much more often...

  2. That Matt guy - sounds like quite the tool. LOL ;) I was there for that conversation - true story! Ahhhh good times.

    You all should know that Dianna shot down all the really funky baby names in real life. Like Oksana, Tatiana, Natasha and a host of other wonderful Russian names. Apparently I should have focused on German names, like Heidi or Claudia.

  3. a google of "wellness project" shows 23,000 uses - from yoga and philosophy to tangibles like fibromyalgia and the Topeka, Kansas, employee health program. I love the name - but having been schooled by your sensitive sibling - you'd never know if I didn't.

  4. Dianna - What can you say, he is from NJ bless his heart.