Learning to embrace wellness

Being the best you can be is a topic that is discussed not only in the workplace but also across schools, universities and anywhere else humans strive to do their best. But how good are we at it and do we truly believe that being the best is good enough in a world where expectations to have it all are greater than ever? 

According to the latest figures from the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness economy has grown by 10.6% since 2013 to U.S$3.7 trillion in 2017. Wellness they say has never been bigger or broader. It includes innovative approaches to fitness, diet, the environment, and how we take care of our minds and bodies. There many new ways to improve our health and many workplaces saying they are keen to see wellness programs implemented so their workforce is happy and productive. 

But are workplaces really embracing wellness or is the bottom line too important in a country like Australia, where the cost of living and housing in capital cities is unaffordable for many and the necessity to work is greater than ever? 

In an exclusive interview with ohs.com.au Australian Wellness Education and Training chief executive officer John Toomey says that nowhere in the western world has got it right at the moment because the people who are trying to change the behaviour are stuck in the same place as the people who have the problem. 

“If we go back 200 years and look at how people lived and what their daily focus was on, it would have been have we got enough food for today, for tomorrow or next week? They would have also been paying attention to their shelter or to their housing and asking is it going to stand up in the weather? Disposing of sewerage and all sorts of things would have been the main focus in people’s lives.” 

“They could never afford to relax because that’s the way life was. It was an intrinsic motivation to keep working to keep doing what they had to do to make sure those things were in place. The driving force of life was to survive,” said Toomey. 

“These days some people get really stressed in traffic but they forget the fact they should have some gratitude they are sitting in a $40,000 motor vehicle that is getting them to where they want to go in comfort and on time. We put our attention on what is not convenient for us.” 

“We focus on the convenience and there is no compromise from that. We are profoundly spoilt. None of us have ever got enough money. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be wealthy, if you want wealth I say go for it, but we are so caught up in “what about me.” 

“That’s not where happiness is. It doesn’t exist there. It comes from when we do something really cool for someone else. You look at the Brisbane floods and there is so much to learn from that. People opened their hearts up and went for it hour after hour to do whatever they could to support other people and get their lives back,” said Toomey. 

Toomey believes it’s a natural moral obligation to care for other people and that caring about other people is poignant to them becoming the best person they can be. 

“That’s care and that means helping people to discover who they want to be and becoming a version of who they think they need to be. We need to hold ourselves to that.” 

“When you start to put all your attention on comfort and convenience you stop evolving. Look at how much this country did after WWII. There was a collective goal after the war to build the nation, then we got to the mid 1970’s and we’d done a really good job on the nation building and we needed a new goal but to this day no government has ever put that in from of us.” 

“What’s happened is we’ve sat back and with the attitude of convenience and mental illness starts which is all about control. People talk about a chemical imbalance in the brain but there is no such thing. There is no test for that. It’s just someone’s wild theory. People get depressed and suddenly there will be a massive disaster in their area and they realise people need help so they get out and start helping and the depression goes.” 

Countries like Sweden have become the pinup culture for wellness and happiness in the workplace by creating a six-hour workday alongside generous parental leave but Toomey suggests there are flaws in the Swedish system. 

“What are people going to do with all the extra time? Will it be more self-indulgent? In a country like Australia, there are two factors to the lifestyle brand. One is the property market is still going up and people are paying outrageous prices for homes and secondly look at the number of new cars on the road. I bet 95% of those is financed. “ 

“I was having a chat with some miners who were saying they were suffering from depression because they were away from their families so much so I started investigating further and asked “who told you to take on the job and what was your original goal?” 

“A few of them said there goals were to pay off the mortgage, which is a beautiful plan and makes a lot of sense. But the reality is they haven’t paid off the mortgage because once their pockets filled up with cash they went out and spent it. Next thing they have created a lifestyle that depends on that pay packet and they can’t get out. They have bridged their own agreement to themselves and put themselves in a situation where they have lost control,” said Toomey. 

“If all of us want to we can find financial balance if that’s our goal but are we prepared to buy a cheap second hand car? Or take public transport? Spend less on clothes and rent or share rent with others?” 

“All of those options are open to us if we want them to be. I saw a great quote on social media recently, which said, “your not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic.” 


Image supplied by Flickr cc: thetaxhaven

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