Responsibility, Opportunity, Autonomy


I was reading, well actually listening (I listen to a downloadable books biking to work) to Phil Jackson’s book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success. Phil Jackson was a player for the Knicks and a successful coach for both the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Throughout the book he talks a lot about growth and leadership and what he believes has helped him win 11 championship rings.

In Chapter 6 he was discussing Lakota Indian Tribal customs and culture he tried to adopt for coaching. He explains, “One of the things that intrigued me about the Lakota culture  was its view of the self. Lakota warriors had far more autonomy than their white counterparts, but their freedom came with a high degree of responsibility.” I also talk about responsibility in relation to health but attribute that more to the pathogenic or disease avoidance paradigm. To me health is an OPPORTUNITY and I consider this associated with health origins salutogenic approach. To me we do not  have a responsibility, but an opportunity to have a better life. Being told we must do something generally causes resistance while an opportunity creates desire.

You can see here (and posted below) how I describe pathogenic with responsibility and salutogenic as an opportunity approach. To understand the universality of this application, Umair Haque, in his wonderful book, Betterness, explains the existing paradigm as pathogenic and recommends we adopt the new Betterness paradigm he proposes in his book because of the benefits to everyone and everything.

From my reading, I understand Phil Jackson discussed responsibility with autonomy because he believe autonomy was earned by those who had taken the responsibility to learn and develop the necessary skills and knowledge. Also because he explained how the outcome was about the tribe more so than the individual, it required the development of skill and knowledge to be able to contribute to the greater good of the tribe.

To me, this means if we hope to have the opportunity to be able to autonomously  self direct and create the life we want, we must take the opportunity to grow by doing the work necessary to gain the skills, abilities and relationships that can help. We can’t know what is needed before so we must seek to grow as much as we can by building and developing. Of course doing this helps create the life we want more likely now and int he future. The point he was making with his team was how they were not individuals but a team and for them to win, they had to think about how they could function independently in such a way so that it contributed to the whole or the team’s outcome. This is how nature works also, each cell is autonomous and functions on its own – but in a way that contributes to the whole system. It seems if we also think about how to function so that we can contribute to improving the whole, it would benefit all because we will be creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Experiencing Wellness = Progress Toward Desired


For as long as I have been in the field, since the late 80’s, there has been debate about what wellness is and how it should be defined and described.

When I first learned about wellness, like health, it was described as a process of making better choices to create a life of optimal health. However, upon reflection, a process was not very exciting, desirable or motivating to most. After all, does it mean if you have wellness you have a process? Most of us are more interested in what that means to us and others. In other words most of us think about what a process produces or provides.

In getting my PhD, my professor challenged my thinking and changed my understanding of wellness from a process to a product. He explained to me that because wellness is a         -ness word, it means it is a state of being. With that understanding I went on to categorize illness as a state of negative health and wellness as a state of positive health.

The state of being status however seemed limiting because of the relative dynamic state of life and well-being. Around this time, 2006, Lester Breslow, one of the fathers of public health, published an influential commentary, Health Measurement in the Third Era of Health. In this article he explains that, “…health must be clearly differentiated from health status, because health  has a dynamic potential for increasing or at least maintaining whatever health status is in place…” Taking this information I inferred then that wellness must be Positive Health Potential and Illness as Negative Health Potential.”

When I described wellness as a potential, I analogize it by explaining how a wedding provides the potential of having a life partner, a degree creates the potential of having a career, and health creates the potential of having a desired life. Health after all is a resource for life. I then explain to have the life desired, a fulfilling career or a desired life partner, effort is needed to make it happen. This again left me wondering. W hat do we achieve by having wellness or health? Is it just a possibility and would those possibilities be motivating?

Through my history I have moved from seeing positive health or wellness as a process, to being a product or state, to then being a potential. Although I have liked thinking of health and wellness as positive potential, I have had some reservations about its ability to motivate or to feel pride and accomplishment for its achievement. In my recent review of a dissertation, I came to a new realization about wellness and what it is.

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as:  

an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.

The World Health Organization defines wellness as:

the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. There are two focal concerns: the realization of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfillment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings (Smith 2006)

These organizations describe it as all – the process, the product, and potential. To me these definitions make wellness ambiguous and difficult to understand, conceptualize, and or quantify. By reviewing all this, I had come to realize that really when I experience wellness and what it has always been and what motivates people to work to achieve wellness is PROGRESS. It is when we do things that help us move toward where or who we want to be that enables us to experience the positive, relative, dynamic state of wellness.

My recommendation for wellness suggests we should describe, define and view wellness as PROGRESS. If wellness is progress, then all health promotion and wellness efforts would be focused on creating processes, programs and efforts to enable and create PROGRESS.

Please let me know you thoughts about wellness as progress and how we can continue to improve toward creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
I look forward to hearing about how you use pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions to generate All Good so everything and everything benefits!

Thank you.
Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Why We Should Help Everyone & Everything Benefit!

In this TED presentation, Barry Schwartz describes how and why following our moral imperative provides the greatest benefits for all. The best actions are not inspired by incentives or rules, but by human nature and our desire to make things better. In essence, Barry Schwartz is giving the BIG WHY we would want to practice paneugenesis which is to create interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker