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How To Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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How Best to Use This Information

This is a primer. It is a memory jogger, an inspiration generator, and a referral guide filled with simple actions to improve your health and wellbeing. Use it as such and you will be using it to full advantage. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Begin at the beginning. If wellness is new to you, we suggest that you work your way through the material sequentially to get the benefit of building from the ground up. However, the information and suggestions presented in each chapter stand alone, and you can jump in anywhere. Decide how you learn best and proceed that way. If you have a particular need or interest, check the contents listing a level above this page to find the areas that address it.
  • Be active. This is a mini-workbook, not a novel to get lost in. Stay active by doing the exercises. Think about your choices. Challenge and question whether our suggestions are congruent with your own experience. Mark what you want to remember or study further.
  • Ask for help. Create a wellness partnership or a support system for yourself as you work through this material. Or better yet, share the journey with a friend who will engage in the process along with you. Even if you are sure of yourself, or thoroughly trained in some health system, it helps to have someone else with whom to share the healing journey—someone to talk to, someone to give you feedback or a reality check once in a while, someone to keep you encouraged, and above all, someone to care about you. So whether it is a good friend or family member, a helping professional, or a support group, let yourself lean on someone else once in a while.
    Think about who in your life currently supports you. Who can you rely on for comfort? For clarification or information? For confrontation when they observe you going off track? Who can you rely on for inspiration? Think about personal resources, like your friend down the block who can always be called in an emergency, or an acquaintance who works in a social service agency. Many times people fail to ask for the help they need because they have either forgotten how many resources they actually have or are hesitant to call on them. Make a list:
  • Expect lots of questions. This information is not about absolute prescriptions, specific diets, or regimented exercise programs, even though all of these things are considered. We believe wellness has much more to do with developing self awareness—learning to trust your own internal guidance system through the information that your body is giving you. This is the key to creating your own vibrant life in your own way. That may mean asking some serious questions—honest questions that guide you in discovering honest answers about yourself. These questions usually lead you to other questions, motivating further awareness, education, and growth. Our goal is to raise more questions than we answer and to help you generate and refine your questions. Learning to live with ambiguity is also part of wellness.
  • Start a wellness journal or diary. Writing regularly about what you are learning and remembering about your life and health is a powerful tool for continued motivation. Our students and workshop participants are generally surprised at how much they know about themselves once they start putting their thoughts and feelings on paper. Writing helps to integrate separate aspects of your wellness into a whole picture. As you put your practices and experiences into words, you are using another modality, which will strengthen their impact on your life. Reading back over the changes that you have made and continue to make will help you chart your progress, giving you additional encouragement to keep going.
    You don’t need to limit your journal keeping to formal writing. Try writing poetry or drawing pictures to express your experiences.
  • Set short term goals for yourself. Frequently evaluate your learning and reward yourself in healthy ways for your progress. Be open to modifying your goals as necessary. As you maintain momentum in the direction of your original intention, something might intervene and start you on another course that is even more desirable than your initial one.
    Take it easy on yourself. Give yourself the benefit of a friendly attitude or compassionate acceptance as you encounter areas that need a lot of work. Avoid compounding ill health or disease by burdening yourself with guilt about what you are doing or not doing. Make mistakes and keep on going. You may start with a burst of energy but be unable to maintain that pace. Make each day a new beginning. Simply renew your intentions and practice forgiveness for what you haven’t done.
There are two ways of being happy—we may either diminish our wants or augment our means—either will do—the result is the same; and it is for each to decide and do that which happens to appeal the most to them. If you are idle, or sick, or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means. If you are active and prosperous, or young, or in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are very wise, you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society.
—Benjamin Franklin

Important: If, as you are working with this material, you find that your problems seem bigger than you, it is essential that you get help. Don’t wait. Seek out a helping professional or a support group that has experience with your particular problem—whether that is alcoholism, an eating disorder, depression, cancer, AIDS, or any other condition.

Personal Wellness
Personal Wellness Lite
   Introduction: Simply Well
   Part I: Starting Points
   Part II: Loosening Up
   Part III: Taking Action
   Part IV: One Step Beyond
Child / Family
Global Wellness
For Professionals
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Premises and Objectives
The culture in which we live plays a major role in shaping our beliefs and behaviors. more...
An Introduction
Meryn and John candidly share how they came to the field of child/family wellness from their background in adult wellness. more...
Personal Wellness
Wellness is about you. It is about learning to love your whole self. It is about assuming charge of your life, living in process, and channeling life more...


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