Why I am so passionate about Wellness
By: Dr. Craig Becker
I am passionate about wellness or what I call positive health because it is what I do and who I am. After living an ideal life in high school as an all-American swimmer, starter on the baseball team, ranked number 1 in my class in academics, and having the captain of the cheerleaders as my girlfriend, my life was turned upside down. I was in my senior year of high school and on a ride home from a dance after a football game our car collided head on with another.
On that fateful drive home Todd and the other passenger, Chris Gavin, who was just getting a ride home, as well as the driver, Dan Jones were all killed. I suffered a severe brain contusion and lapsed into a coma for a week. The brain damage I had meant that when I did awake, I lost all I had known. I had to be reintroduced to my sisters and parents. I even had to meet myself again by reading my photo albums. I also lost all my academic and athletic abilities. At the time of the accident I had been taking calculus at the local university. However, after the accident I had to work on basic skills. After awaking from my coma, I did start back learning math. This time however, it was my mom and dad who helped me relearn how to add and subtract. The same was true for athletics, although after the accident athletics were out of the question. The daunting challenges I faced were not in sports but at things such as just being able to walk or being able to climb the stairs without assistance.
As I began to recovery, the health professionals kept telling me how I could avoid other problems or more damage. In other words there advice was how I wouldn’t get worse. Their strategies were about things I should do to avoid or prevent more damage. That wasn’t what I wanted, I wasn’t concerned about how to be less worse, I wanted to be better. I think I knew if I was making myself stronger and better, I also would be doing the best thing possible to prevent or avoid problems. I wanted to know what I could do to create the life I wanted. I wanted to know how I could I move toward my dreams and goals. As I recovered, this then became and still is the focus of my life. I also realized, the life I wanted was very dependent upon how well others were doing. In other words, for me to have the life I want, it would be helpful if you also were able to do what you wanted. As Einstein said,
“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of others.”
I realized I could only have the life I wanted if others were able to create the life they wanted. If I wanted to learn more, I needed great teachers. If I wanted caring friends, people needed to feel good about themselves. I came to realize if I was going to have the life I wanted in selfish terms, I had to do my part to help others create the life they wanted.
When I went back to high school to finish my senior year, after about 5 months of physical and mental rehabilitation after the accident, I was able to complete the classes I needed to graduate. The classes I did take, however, included big steps back. Instead of calculus, I had to take algebra. I also took the required economics, government and English classes. Although I lost my number 1 ranking, I was able to graduate. The other difficult aspect after my accident was social. I was a very angry and confused 17 year old at a new school who had been with 3 other kids everyone else had grown up with in that town. Unfortunately, this put me in a difficult spot since all my classmates must have wished their friends and not this new kid had survived. On top of that, many people were sure there was a reason I was saved.
The idea that I was “saved” for a reason put a lot of pressure on a 17 year old kid who was not working with all of is abilities. People would tell me, “Oh, God has a purpose for you.” Or “You were saved for a reason.” Well of course I then spent the next few months searching for this supposed reason. I also began to question, if this was God’s doing, why did my friends have to die to send me this message? Also, why did this message have to cause so much pain and suffering to the parents, friends and families of all involved? Luckily my mom had been recommended to read the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner. She suggested I also read that book. I believe this book saved me, it is an amazingly powerful book I recommend for everyone. It was a fantastic book that didn’t necessarily provide me with answers but helped me understand why there may not be an answer – at least not a logical one.
As my recovery continued and I regained many of my faculties, the accident happened on September 21, by summer I took some local college courses to ready myself for college. I retook precalculus in the belief I would be ok. I planned, against doctor recommendations to go to college. The doctors did not recommend I go to college because they didn’t think I could make it. Interestingly, my parents never lost hope. I had previously applied to college and had taken the SAT’s early. While I was in a coma, my acceptance letter came from Purdue. In the belief I would be fine, my father went ahead and completed my application and sent it in assuming I would go to college that fall despite the fact I was in a coma when he completed my papers. It seems this strong focus on moving forward has allowed me to continually move forward to create the life I desire.
I did go to college and I went to college with a mission, my mission was to show them I could graduate, on time, with a good GPA. I did graduate on time with a 3.7. (actually a 5.7 – Purdue has a 6 point scale) After the glow of graduating wore off and I showed them I could graduate college, I realized I didn’t want to do what I had trained myself to do, that is be an accountant. Then I thought, well if I get a job and am paid, it will be fine. I therefore got a job as an auditor at a Federal Home Loan Bank. It was a good job but I was unhappy. I didn’t like what I did, what my boss did, or what my bosses boss did. In other words I didn’t see much of future for myself. Unsure what to do, I talked to my parents who were always supportive.
At first my parents asked, well, what do you want to do? I had no idea what I wanted to do. Luckily my parents kept up on recent developments and they told me about a new Wellness program at Ball State University. With very few options, I reluctantly investigated this program. I believe I spoke with Dr. Gobble and he explained, or at least I heard him say that wellness was about more than the absence of disease. Upon learning about this program in wellness I innately knew there must be something I could add to this field because of my life experiences and was immediately drawn to the idea of wellness.
Upon earning my degree in Wellness Management I set out to put the world on fire with wellness and to help people experience a better life. I worked on my own because I saw people talking about wellness or positive health but really only working to lesson disease and infirmity. However, after working on my own for years I realized I had more questions than answers and was confused. With the encouragement of my parents, I earned my PhD, something previously not believed possible. Before starting, the director of the PhD program asked me why I wanted to be in his program. My response was that I wanted to create science for positive health. He told me he thought that we already had it, I disagreed but then agreed I would need to do some work to be able to reasonably support that assertion.
Upon earning my PhD, I now realized I didn’t know anything or at least I now knew that everything was a maybe but that there was a way to create knowledge. I had a dissertation supporting the fact that positive health was significantly different than the absence of disease. With that in hand, I endeavored to discover how we could enable positive health by all. I am therefore on my continuing quest to create positive health, a mission I believe I share with everyone. If we link-up and connect, I believe with collaboration, everyone benefits.