Cultural norms are the beliefs and values generally accepted by a population. Your culture’s norms guide everything from your sexual behavior to the career path you choose to what you eat for breakfast. Cultural norms either encourage or undermine health and wellness. In the past twenty years, the cultural norms for running and other forms of solitary exercise have changed dramatically, as has cultural acceptance of smoking, especially in public places.
Researchers have found that cultural norms usually lag years behind what the majority of people privately think or practice. This lowest common denominator effect serves to maintain common behaviors that encompass the total population even if most people actually think they are outmoded and inadequate.
Cultural norms change when enough individuals adopt a new attitude or behavior within their own lifestyles. It is important, therefore, not to underestimate the power of one person to make a difference. Just as your personal wellness process can begin with small changes in your lifestyle, so too can these small changes help to alter cultural norms.
Exploring below the Psychological/Motivational Level, we encounter the Spiritual/Being/Meaning Level. This could also be called the transpersonal, philosophical, or metaphysical level. Actually, we prefer to call it a realm rather than a level because it has no clear boundaries. This realm includes the mystical and the mysterious, everything in the unconscious mind, and concerns issues such as your reason for being, the real meaning of your life, and your place in the universe. How you address these questions, and the answers you choose, underlie and permeate all of the layers above. Ultimately, this realm determines whether the tip of the iceberg, representing your state of health, is one of disease or wellness.
Your choices are matters of life and death. The accumulated effect of small choices you make every day creates a basic orientation toward vibrant wellness in one direction, illness and unconscious life in the other. It’s your call. This information can help you take charge of your life and health and tap your inner resources in a practical and effective way.
This is about wellness, a subject that we have written about, taught, and lived with for over sixty years of combined experience. We have discovered that wellness is not a state you achieve once and for all. There is no end point in wellness, and as with every other process in life, it will have its highs and lows. You will make strides and live the positive results of those advances - in energy, strength, and vitality in general. You will also have periods when you need to rest, evaluate, recuperate, or change direction. What works today may not work tomorrow. Truly, life is never static and neither is our experience of wellness. What you are starting here, or continuing, is a way of life, not a series of prescriptions.
Nor is wellness a limited or exclusive concept. Although many people associate it only with fitness, nutrition, or stress reduction, it is much more. Wellness is a way of life that takes people into realms far beyond treatment or therapy - toward self responsibility and self empowerment. If you are ill, the wellness approach works alongside any forms of treatment you may be undertaking with your doctor or health professional, encouraging you to become an active participant in the healing process instead of a passive recipient.