Point of View: How can we make healthy, positive changes in our lives?

Use ‘8 Dimensions of Wellness’ tool to start making changes.

It’s mid-January, so if you’re like me, you’ve already broken your unreasonable New Year’s resolutions. Every year we’re tempted to make extensive, life-altering changes in one fell swoop, and every year we fall short. So, now that we have our “New Year, New You” foolishness behind us, let’s consider what we can do that will make actual, healthful, positive changes in our lives. This process starts with reflection. Reflection is an essential part of the learning process. Reflection helps us gain insight into our own actions and behaviors, and reflection helps us integrate our past experiences so that we can learn and grow. Reflection can be as simple as asking yourself a couple of questions: What behaviors, habits, or activities have served me well that I would like to continue? What behaviors, habits, or activities have not served me well that I want to leave behind? These pandemic years have been challenging in a myriad of ways, but after some reflection, you may be able to identify some healthy ways that you have coped with this time and practiced resiliency. Reflection is important because it helps you identify your healthy habits so you can build on them.

During your reflection, take your whole self into consideration. As humans, we are multidimensional, with bodies, minds, hearts and spirits, all of which need loving kindness and care. To help with your reflection, the MAPP Steering Committee has provided a tool as a newspaper insert. This is a self-evaluation based on the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. You can also find it at www.mappofskp.net. At the top of the page, you’ll see the definitions of each of the 8 Dimensions. Be sure to read them carefully, because you may be surprised at how they’re defined. For example, Intellectual Wellness is not about obtaining multiple degrees but about cultivating a lively and curious mind. Spiritual Wellness does not focus on adherence to any particular faith tradition but instead is about finding your meaning and purpose in life.

Once you’ve read the definitions, look at the pie chart. It’s divided into eight segments that correspond with the 8 Dimensions. The center of the chart is 0, and the outside ring is 10. One at a time, reflect on each of the 8 Dimensions and consider where you fall on a scale of 1-10 for that dimension, with 0 indicating that you feel little or no satisfaction with that dimension in your life and 10 meaning that you are extremely satisfied with that dimension. Draw a line or shade in the rings for that dimension, then repeat the process. Read the definition, reflect on your satisfaction concerning that dimension in your life, and shade in the layers.

Once you’ve filled in the whole pie chart, pull back and take a big picture look. Does your circle look like a wheel or a flat tire? Are there peaks and valleys? How small or large is your circle? Without judgment, just notice how your circle looks, then once again move into a place of reflection. Consider if there is a low spot you’d like to enhance or if one of the definitions piqued your interest. Maybe there are dimensions that you feel strong and sure about and others that may be a stretch for you.

One you’ve completed this exercise, allow your mind to wander and dream a little. What might this new year bring? Remember, we’re leaving behind the unreasonable resolutions. Based on this holistic evaluation, what is an area or two in which you’d like to focus some energy on this year? What dimension(s) would you like to explore or enhance? You can turn the sheet over and see some ideas and examples of ways you can develop each of these 8 Dimensions of Wellness.

May this new year be a time of reflection and exploration as you recognize your strengths and build on your healthy habits so that you can experience a sense of wellness in all your many dimensions.

Pastor Lisa Talbott is the pastor of Homer United Methodist Church and a member of the MAPP Steering Committee.

MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) is a local health improvement coalition with the vision of a proactive, resilient and innovative community.