“Gnothi Seauto” meaning “Know Thyself”
Through my experience of coaching and teaching at the high school, junior college and university level, as well as while I earned my M.A in Health and Human Performance, I encountered student athletes who not only needed coaching on their position-specific technique and skills, but also in their spiritual, emotional, and professional lives. This inspired me to continually seek out insight and knowledge because I knew I had the opportunity to offer more than athletic coaching. I had the opportunity to do life coaching as well. According to The World Health Organization, health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being…[1 and 2].” While teaching Health at Azusa Pacific University and doing holistic coaching for individuals across the country, I realized that a person’s “health” is comprised of seven dimensions of wellness. I learned that only in coaching an individual on these seven dimensions could I lead people to achieve “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.”
It’s no surprise that many of us find ourselves out of balance. Our society loves to compartmentalize. It is a product of our free market society. John Maxwell, the authority in writing books on leadership has stated in essence that no one pays for a six or a seven, but people will pay for a nine or a ten. So it makes sense that our society is driven to be the best that it can be in a narrow area. However, that is not how we are designed to be as human beings. It is fine for the professor to be an expert in one field, or the stock broker to know everything there is about a company’s financial statements, or the mother to spend sixteen hours a day applying the foremost parenting strategies in raising her children. There is nothing wrong with excellence. In fact, it is important that we all do the best we can do in each of our given gifts and passions in order for our society to be in harmony [a point I will get into later]. However, we must not be so obsessed with being the best in our particular arenas that we suffer in the other areas of our lives.
Unfortunately, there are many examples in our society where imbalance leads to pain. For example, one of my clients, “Jim” [age 46] is a wealthy businessman who, now that his two young boys are getting older, is starting to feel disconnected in his relationship with them. This feeling, compounded by the disconnect he is also feeling with his wife, has made “Jim” recently feeling he missed valuable time with his family. “Jim now feels like his “obsession” with success and wanting to feel important and needed by providing his family with an upper class lifestyle has now “back fired” on him. The eighty and ninety- hour weeks have robbed him of time seeing his boys grow up and developing valuable memories with his family. Then there is “Nancy”, a very successful scientist who has spent so much time in the lab trying to find advancements in her research that she feels “awkward and insecure” now that she desires to meet someone. Or how about “Ruth” who has dedicated her life to spirituality but comes in crying every week because she cannot figure out her bank account. We are not meant to be singular focus beings. We thrive and are at our happiest when we become, as Maslow put it, “self actualized” in all dimensions of our life. The dimensions of wellness are symbiotic, meaning that they depend on one another. The areas of our lives are not supposed to be disconnected from each another. Healthy living is balanced living.
The seven dimensions of wellness, when strengthened daily, bring peace, tranquility and balance to our lives.
They are SPIRITUAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL, PROFESSIONAL, FINANCIAL, and RELATIONSHIP. And all dimensions are equally important to a balanced life.
Countless times, I have found myself coaching a young man who had his whole identity and focus wrapped up in being the best physical specimen he could be. Take “Anthony”, for example. He would spend countless hours in the gym, then read all that he could find on a diet that would maximize his muscles. He thought endlessly about foods that would give his body the right combination of protein, carbohydrates and water. But after five years in college, devoting himself to this passion, his college career was over. He had become the best football player he could be, but with his eligibility up and without any NFL scouts interested in him; his football days were over. For most of the athletes I coached, this kind of single-minded dedication came with a cost that was paid when their college athletics careers were over. At this point the majority of them had average GPAs and no idea what path to head down next. They had spent so much time scoring points in the PHYSICAL dimension of wellness that their scorecards were blank in their SPIRITUAL and PROFESSIONAL wellness dimensions. As happens with many student athletes, the lack of balance prompted Anthony to examine who he really was as a man and redefine his own identity.
For many, this transitional process is painful, especially if this physical identity has deep roots in high school or even primary school. But athletes like Anthony do not have to go through this painful identity crisis. Recognizing that there can be too much of a good thing is vital to achieving balance in life. If Anthony would have put time into his academic studies, applying himself in classes, then he would have had the opportunity to explore his own depths and perhaps discover other passions and interests in time to major in one of them. Psychologically, he would have been able to cope better when the team had lost, as well as when he himself had played poorly.
When we put all of our eggs into one basket, so to speak, we are not only limiting our potential in that area, but we can set ourselves up for break downs, identity crisis’ and even suicidal urges.
The list of examples goes on and on, and this kind of obsession can occur in any dimension of wellness. The bottom line is that life is enriched, and a person’s passions and gifts are enhanced when there is balance in all seven dimensions of wellness.
THE SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF WELLNESS
Spiritual: Your relationship with yourself and, if you believe, a higher power.
Mental: The activity of your mind in any area of interest. As long as you can say, “I feel smarter,” you just strengthened your mental dimension of wellness.
Emotional: Your overall “feeling” about your life. Do you feel happy or sad, loved or alone, safe or out of control?
Physical: The care you provide in maintaining and nurturing your body. This not only has to do with exercise, but your diet and how much sleep you get.
Professional: Your contribution to the welfare of society. What is your life’s purpose and what service to our society do you express it through?
Financial: The foundation of your material well being. How do you budget, invest and prepare for retirement?
Relationship: Your connections with people. How do you exchange love and support with your family, friends and in romances?
I love God. I love people. I love learning and I love money. These passions that I have had for a long time now have motivated me to keep acquiring information that has lead to a descent amount of knowledge in particular areas. However, knowledge doesn’t mean wisdom. We live in the information age. With technologies such as the internet, we can access anything, anywhere and at any time. We, more than at any other time in human history, have information being fed to us constantly. Knowledge is the ability to discern between information and to connect the dots so to speak that make information important.
Otherwise information is just useless facts and numbers that don’t have any significance. People are becoming more knowledgeable. But it is time to take one step, a giant step, further. Knowledge is nice to impress your dinner guests or some girl that you are trying to pick up.
However, knowledge it in of itself is utterly useless and pointless unless you ACT on the knowledge. For example, it is a fact that smoking can cause lung cancer and that a diet with little or no fruits and vegetables can lead to cancer and/or diabetes. And yet, people continue to smoke and eat food that they know does not serve their body temple. A lot of us have knowledge in this society but lack wisdom or the ability to ACT on the knowledge that we have. When our actions show the knowledge that we posses then we are being wise. We have then mastered the thought-word-action creative process to truly transform our lives. You can be the highest grandest version of yourself! All you need is to take action on what you already know. This idea of wisdom or the embodiment process, that is taking into being what we know to be true for our lives so that our actions speak louder than our words, has been with me for some time. This is the reason why I quit drinking over ten years ago. And it is the reason why I created THE MAKE IT A GREAT DAY EMBODIMENT SYSTEM. This system has changed a lot over the years as my expectations of myself and the goals that I have set have changed. It started out just being a five point system and now it is a ten point system. Let me explain…
THE MAKE IT A GREAT DAY EMBODIMENT SYSTEM is a task list or to do list that covers all Seven Dimensions of Wellness plus three other sub categories that literally lay out how I am going to MAKE TODAY A GREAT DAY! First, I go into Microsoft Outlook’s Task section. However, this is not needed. It’s a little more convenient, however, for a long time I just used a paper and a pen. Once I’m in the Task section, I make a list of the Seven Dimensions of Wellness assigning each one their own category.
These first seven must be included in the system. Next, I will assign just one task to each of the categories.
MENTAL: Read a chapter
EMOTIONAL: Grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s
PHYSICAL: Run to the beach
PROFFESIONAL: Read an article about my profession
FINANCIAL: Pay my Cell phone bill
RELATIONSHIPS: Call mom
Remember, this is for you so you can put anything in the assignment that best fits your life and your life style in order for YOU to become your greatest yet to be. For instance, maybe you can’t run right now and you haven’t done a lot of exercising so strengthening your Physical Wellness would just be to stretch for ten or twenty minutes. That’s great! It doesn’t matter how tiny the task is but the bottom line is that you strengthened your Physical Wellness today. In fact, it is better for the tasks to be small, especially in your weakest areas so that you get motivation and confidence in applying a new activity into your life. Instead of reading a chapter, it could be just reading a page or two. It’s your call based on what works best for you to achieve the results you want in your life.
“Josh Darnall is a Holistic Coach. He can be contacted at