How Wellness is Driven by Meaning

Many of you have heard the term “wellness” used in various forms and associations. Typically, it’s associated with the luxury of a spa or alternative “wellness” and holistic healing modalities. Now, more than ever, businesses are using wellness to describe so much more than that. Wellness is now a $4.5 Trillion (USD) Industry and it continues to grow and impact marketing, thus what big money wants you to believe.

Where we create joy, we will always find it.
Meaning is created in every moment, and how we choose that creates our experiences and how we LIVE

So, why is the term being used in such varying industries? It all comes down to what wellness encompasses. In the 1970’s, Dr. John Travis created the Illness-Wellness Continuum and began defining the term wellness. I see it as a pie, others a wheel, but I like food so, we’re going with pie.

This wonderful pie is cut into various slices, depending on the source and how they define wellness. Dr. Travis uses 12 slices in his Wellness Energy System. The National Wellness Institute has their Six Dimensions of Wellness, and the Global Wellness Institute while not having a pie per se, has an immense amount of research and information to chew on ranging from business to family resources. I love their work.

What in the world does meaning have to do with any of this, you ask?

Looking at all the slices of pie, wellness does encompass all dimensions of life and living (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Spiritual, Vocational, Financial, and Environmental). What I’ve found most compelling is that not all slices of the pie need to be in balance to find a state of wellbeing that suits you. Here, enters meaning.

Wellness, as defined by the National Wellness Institute, is “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.” This definition puts your state of wellbeing into your hands. It gives you sole responsibility for reaching your potential and surpassing it. Thinking along these lines, you can nix marketing and what business want you to think.

When you’re in control of your mindset, you are the creator of your goals. Now a goal without another goal to follow it up simply creates complacency and you’ll find your old habits creeping back in. When you bring meaning into this definition, you have the creative ability and reason to drive your pursuit of wellness.

I was first introduced to this while reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. He spoke about how he could see, not only in himself, but in those that survived in the Nazi concentration camps and people he worked with after he was freed, that it was when meaning was created that people found the piece to drive their sense of purpose.

Wellness Pie Each slice is a part of how you live life, create meaning for each one and you will be the driver in your experiences

You’ll find meaning show up in the slice of pie termed “Spirituality.” Now, don’t get all weird about this term. Spirituality doesn’t need to mean religion or dogma. It’s the place that helps you create values in life. It’s where many people see that there is something bigger than themselves, whether it’s how people connect with each other, nature, animals, etc… or where you create authentic beliefs that drive home your values.

Values are the big driver in creating meaning in your life. You might think that meaning and purpose are the same. I like to argue that meaning precedes purpose.

Thinking back to becoming a mother, I had a set of beliefs and values that told me being a mother needed to look a certain way. The meaning those beliefs implied made my purpose of being a mother a status symbol, a specific type of person who looks and acts a certain way with her kids. That didn’t align with my authentic truth or my core values. The meaning and belief were mis-matched.

When I was able to really look into what motherhood meant to me, not to society, but what my values were as a parent, I was able to reclaim my beliefs from the ones set by society and create a new meaning for myself. Now that I have that, my purpose as a parent is different in every choice I make.

Breaking down meaning in this way impacts every aspect of wellness in your life. Again, each slice of the wellness pie doesn’t need to be in balance with the others. You may not place as much meaning on the environmental slice or social slice, and they may be a bit smaller than some of the others. It doesn’t make your pie any less delicious than your neighbors.

What you choose as meaning in your life does impact your purpose in the moment, your life’s purpose at this time in your life, and how you relate to each slice. For example, if you’re facing financial disempowerment and you make it mean that you’re a failure, then that feeling of failure impacts everything. If being out of work right now means that new doors are opening up for you or you get the opportunity to be creative in your next endeavor, that will impact everything as well. How you relate to every aspect of the pie is impacted by the meaning you create in life’s situations.  

If after reading this your purpose becomes finding a real slice of pie, then I’m with you. Please save a piece of cherry for me with a little vanilla ice cream on the side.

Pick up the phone and give me a call

If you’re finding that a sense of wellness or wellbeing is eluding you or that something is missing in your life give me call. Working together to find your core values and reflecting on them together is a great start to creating a fluid definition to what brings meaning to your life. From this place we can create a mindset, a way to carry yourself through life and begin to focus on goals that are reflective of the meaning you bring to this world. I’d love to work with you, be by your side and see where you take us!

Emily Kamala, MA, RMT, CHWC does virtual Wellness Coaching and draws on over two decades of work in the wellness industry. What lights you up is what drives her passion. Your successes are celebrated and your courage to dig deep into what is authentically you are all part of Wellness Coaching and creating your life well lived. You can reach her at 720-515-4178 or visit her website at for more information. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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