Danny Cesene – Wellness in the Twenty-First Century


Daniel F. Cesene
SOC 3745 _ Harriet Perantinides
27 April 2011

Wellness in the Twenty-First Century


Financial promoters of holistic and alternative medicine have estimated that the “wellness industry” presently generates over two-hundred billion dollars of annual revenue. Historically, the free enterprise system of American entrepreneurial-ship has habitually capitalized on the commercialism of health care, thereby “cashing-in” on everything from proverbial “soup to nuts” in an attempt to lure fattened pocket books into frivolous spending and wasteful investments of time, talent, and treasury.

Proponents of health reform are rightfully concerned that the mission of contemporary “wellness” projects may have been sidetracked by a proliferation of unique narcissism that has been cleverly disguised under the endearing term: self-improvement! Some critics have speculated that a change in values and a shift away from traditional conservatism may have been at least partially responsible for the warping of our present culture. People have now gone to extraordinary measures and have used less than utilitarian means in their self-absorbing attempts to unlock the “mysteries” of youthful virility and avert the natural aging process. Two such incredible examples of this puerile and often insensible menagerie are: the ingestion of juices and coffees made from berries extracted from the defecated feces of wildlife 1 and the current research with cryogenic internment which allures unthinkable financial resources from wealthy estates of constituents attempting to preserve their frozen corpses until someone discovers how to resuscitate their “popsicled” remains.

Unquestionably, information and technology will and must continually evolve, however; advocates of comprehensive research agree that humanity should be charged with the grave  responsibility of avoiding specious practices that are neither in keeping with sound judgment nor established scientific principles. Moreover; erroneous efforts that have not been shown to procure sustainable results should be avoided carefully.

This exposition will show that research indicates that embracing wellness in the twenty-first century will require an approach that is synonymous with “balanced” living and the overall “stewardship” of our resources. Furthermore; research suggests that effective application of the practical principles of wellness will help humanity to embrace the uncertainties of the future in a manner that will transcend self-limiting barriers while enabling sojourners to attain the fullest dimension of their God-given potential.

A Historical Perspective of Wellness

Long before “modern” science as we know it today, physicians and other medical practitioners acknowledged that the way people felt in their minds could influence the way that they responded in their bodies. When prevailing “medical authorities”1 tried to ignore or deny such mind-body connections, the common experience that people shared among themselves was so strong that their collaboration was not easily disproved nor dismissed. Upon even closer investigation, people began to realize that the relationship between emotions and disease had always been quite central to the history of medical practice in general. It was the Ancient Greeks that surmised that one’s health could be sustained by adopting a temperate lifestyle of moderation.2 This concept of “temperance”3 is therefore seen by many as one of the basic keys to understanding and developing wellness. The Greeks believed that health, beauty, and happiness should be the most important objectives in life. In addition, they concluded that physical fitness had its own share of special rewards.4 As an example: the philosopher Plato emphasized the importance of regular and routine forms of bodily exercise to help develop the capacities of the mind. Most wellness activists agree that Plato had discovered another key essential unlocking the mysteries of wellness: Plato’s ideal was the “harmonious perfection of the body, mind, and psyche.”5

The Renaissance Period

In the Renaissance period, the popular theme among those who were known as “methodical” intellectuals was referred to as the “balance of the passions”. During this time Paracelsus (1493-1541); who was the father of modern medicine, insisted on treating the whole being rather than merely the part displaying disease. Thus the term: “holism” was used to describe not only a treatment, but an approach to life that recognized the fact that stress and our mental state had a tremendous impact on our physical health. From Paracelsus’ experiments we can determine that Holism became another integral piece that will help encompass the true nature of wellness.

Pre-revolutionary Period

In the 1700’s preceding the American Revolution, a system of medicine prevailed in the Colonies that come from the Dutch physician and teacher: Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738). According to the Boerhaavian theory of disease, maladies had chemical and physical qualities. Boerhavve used comparison to help diagnose and explain ailments such as acidity ad alkalinity, or tension and relaxation. However; by the second half of the 18th Century Boerhaavian theories were strongly disputed by men like William Cullen (1710-1790); a Scottish physician and teacher. Cullen taught that and excess or an insufficiency of nervous tension was the cause of all illness and disease. He thought that too much tension in the mind or within the body was often evidenced by a fever. Cullen also believed that a cold or a chill indicated that an individual may be too relaxed which called for some form of restorative treatment. His prescribed therapy involved bleeding6, accompanied by restricted diet, purging, rest, and chemical sedation.

The 19th Century and Beyond

In the 19th Century, a place was secured for emotions in connection with disease. By the 1840s and 1850s several functional disorders of the nervous system (now called “neuroses”7) and their attributed emotional causes had grown to become an important area of further research and investigation throughout clinical studies.

In 1859 Charles Darwin published Origin of Species; which subsequently proved to become a watermark in history because this era brought about two regrettable harms: a growing misplacement of faith and an unfortunate acceptance of the authority of science as the absolute truth! It was during this turbulent American society that individualism was stressed over community. As the people sought respite from their confusion and unhappiness they began to slowly substitute the psychologist for the priest! Wellness researchers feel that is was this point in history that some of the most basic principles of wellness began to be severely compromised. Values such as temperance, balance, physical exercise, holism, harmonious living and even bodily rest were becoming ideas that were replaced by an era that inadvertently led people to focus on themselves in an uncreative and egocentric manner. Like a vegetarian lion that gets his first taste of meat and likes it…people living during this period of history were beginning to develop an “appetite” for opulent and sensuous living.8

An Age of Scientific Advancement

During this period of time Americans became more scientifically advanced. Those who lived through the second half of the nineteenth century had the privilege of experiencing some of the greatest changes in the history of mankind, including: electricity, telephone, and the power of the locomotive. Modernization is usually thought of as a positive attribute, however; people began to notice the tremendous stresses that came through this technological advancement. People of this “modern” society recognized that they had to do a lot more tasks with less wealth and within a reduced amount of time.

1950’s High Level Wellness

In the 1950’s a physician named Halbert Dunn began using the phrase “high level wellness”, based on a weekly series of thirteen lectures that were held at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia. Less than a decade later, Dunn published a book entitled: High Level Wellness. Dunn succeeded in prolifically reintroducing an age-old concept of health that seemed so different for the sentiments of his “modern” culture that people actually thought that his ideas were novel and new. He advocated that there was more to health than the mere absence of disease. He fittingly claimed that true wellness refers to a healthy balance of the mind-body9 and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. Incredibly, Dunn’s concepts of wellness quickly came to be widely accepted among many astute communities of higher education and advanced academia.

Preparation for the Twenty-first Century

Much progress has taken place in the last fifty years. Brevity prohibits much more to be said about the inconceivable information explosion that has led us to the Twenty-first Century, however; it should be noted that recent studies have shown that it is now generally accepted as fact that our health and wellness is contingent upon unseen factors that lie beyond our limited senses and conscious awareness.

A Paradigm Shift

Historical research serves to reveal the steps of necessary preparation that will lay the foundation for future advancement. Now a new paradigm is positioned in place and is strategically poised for our growth and maturity.

A paradigm as we know it is an example, a model, or a pattern (if you will). In one sense of the word, a paradigm is an archetype or perhaps restated with more clarity: a paradigm can be a prototype or precursor…something that may have originated in the past, but now seeks to find its culmination or fulfillment in the future. This point is intentionally labored by wellness advocates in order to elaborate upon the fact that what Halbert Dunn had begun was merely a continuation of what had been revived many centuries before. In essence, the concept of wellness now being investigated and proliferated actually has its roots in the very origins of man’s existence. If this concept is based on sound investigation and diligent inquiry then it would stand to reason that all that has taken place historically has merely been in preparation of that which lies ahead. In order to fully understand and appreciate the meaning and purpose of those things we need to once again refocus on the beginning.

Logical Correlation between Wellness and Creation

There is a logical and positive correlation between the topic of wellness and man’s origin (creation). The answer cannot be found by merely taking a snapshot of Darwin’s Gallipolis Island. Darwin is noted for claiming: “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God.”10 This argument is not attempting to dispute evolution as scientific theory, or to proselyte Judeo-Christian converts11, however; Darwin’s personal testimony may serve to apologetically validate the concept of the existence of a Creator-Being. This creation concept may play a vital role in both understanding the overall plan for man’s wellness and the reader’s development of a true wellness paradigm.

Man’s Existence is Not Accidental

Logic dictates that if one will acknowledge the existence of a Creator, it is then equally as plausible to entertain the conception that man’s existence is not accidental, nor without plan, purpose, ingenious design, and having specific function! If this Creator-Being exists, and if humanity exists because of this Creator, and if humans’ have a plan, purpose, design, and function…then one can logically deduct that the offspring of this Creator must somehow derive their value, significance, and self-worth from this Creator as well. Furthermore; we can deduct that if this Creator-Being truly creates, then the Creator’s offspring must bear some resemblance to their maker. If this Creator is a spiritual entity, then all of mankind (as the offspring of the Creator) has the distinction of being designed with both physical and spiritual components.12

Many ancient writings have advocated that man is made a “living soul”. Scholars teach that as a spiritual creature, man possesses both an earthly body (earth suit) and a “soulish” mind.13

A Comprehensive Understanding of Wellness

Dunn’s widely acceptable account of wellness involved the balance of the mind-body and spirit. When this information is coupled with the concepts implied by the existence of a Creator-Being, a more comprehensive understanding of wellness can be developed. Enquiry shows that the following propositions may now help to bring needed clarification for endeavoring to discover wellness in the twenty-first century:

  • Man is a spiritual creation, divinely endowed with altruistic creative potential.
  • Man possesses the unique human faculties of consciousness, intellect, will and emotions.14
  • Man may choose to live harmoniously integrated with both the creature and the Creator through embracing the stewardship of a temperate, balanced, and purposeful life.
  • Man chooses to embrace a life of wellness!

A Philosophy to Live By

 A very wise man once told me: “If you want to find a philosophy15 to live by, first find one worth dying for”. Cesene, Louis J (1987) This is a simple, but yet profound admonition! One may be willing to live a certain way for any number of gratifying reasons, however; we must be willing to question our motives by asking if the beliefs about living are so strong that one would be willing to die for their convictions? Whether an individual realizes it or not…all humans have a philosophy that they live by; that is based upon how we think and how we feel. The following inspirational prose has proven to be helpful for many people:

  • If you always think the way that you have always thought,
  • You will always feel the way that you have always felt.
  • If you always feel the way that you have always felt,
  • You will always do what you have always done.
  • If you always do what you have always done,
  • You will always get what you have always gotten.

Behavioral scientists have discovered that contrary to popular belief, practice does not make perfect! Instead, research has shown that practicing tends to make things permanent.

Studies have indicated that if an individual endeavors to live a life of wellness, there has to be an alteration or a transformation (if you will) in the way they think and feel.16 One could theoretically keep doing the same things repetitiously over and over and never really get better at it. One could continue doing unwholesome and counter-productive things repeatedly. Instead of something good happening…only contrary things could happen. To think otherwise, would be as absurd as continually planting watermelon seeds and expecting potatoes to grow. Old habits are usually those that have been “entrenched” within or psyche through repetitive use. Often, the only way to begin to “break the cycle” is to renew the mind through continual verbal and mental rehearsal…persistently compelling oneself to make small, deliberate choices. Someone once said that change is difficult and it is like trying to eat an elephant. How would one eat an elephant? I am told that the only way to eat an elephant is “one bite at a time”!

Developing a New Philosophy

As this pertains to the topic of wellness, a new philosophy or approach to living must be developed that encompasses the values and virtues that have examined earlier in this treatise.

Our new paradigm focuses on the concept that humans are spiritual creatures with divine and creative potential. Our paradigm becomes part of our perspective. Our paradigm is how one sees themselves in relation to their perceived purpose. The following meditative prose has helped many people realign their thinking and adjust their perspective:

I can choose to see myself as I really am.

I can choose to see myself as my Creator sees me.
I can choose to say about myself what my Creator says about me.
I can choose to utilize all that my Creator has entrusted to me.
I can choose to see others as they really are.
I can choose to see others as my Creator sees them.
I can choose to say about others what my Creator says about them.
I can choose to help others utilize all that the Creator has entrusted to them.

Wellness Involves Stewardship

If one truly desires to embrace the concept of wellness, then their focus cannot just be upon fitness, diet, and exercise. These things are important, but all too often they merely are indications that one is pursuing vanity. The theory of wellness most consistently advocated revolves around the irreplaceable concept of “stewardship”.17 One more rehearsal may be most helpful: Humans are created by design. Humans are in reality, spiritual creatures. Humans have been endowed with divine and creative potential. Our lives have a plan and a purpose. In order to maximize our potential we must endeavor to live temperate, balanced lives. If we will see ourselves as “stewards” then we must commit our time, talents, and our treasures. A steward learns to live their life for a cause and a purpose that is much greater than our own sense of selfish ambition. We do not want to be diseased, but we are not living in an attempt to one day die without disease. That kind of philosophy misses the target. We do not want to be overweight, however; our goal is not only to stay fit and trim. Instead, we watch what we eat; and we learn to take better care of ourselves. We are the “caretakers” of our “earth-suit”. We are entrusted with one life and our replacement parts are not guaranteed. In this life, and on this planet we are endeavoring to utilize what has been delivered to us. If we get sick or our body breaks down, we do not want to have to sit out, somewhere on the “injured list”, waiting to get back in the game.

Applying the Principles

The principles of stewardship should be applied to each and every aspect of our lives including: Our marriage, our children, our job, our money management, the little league, our church, the synagogue, the mosque, our schoolwork, our playtime, our friendships, the Friday night poker game and our rest. Without exception, all of these things are integral parts of the stewardship of “wellness”. These must be part of our new paradigm. They must be included in our new philosophy of life!

The Pie Plate Approach

Many scholarly works have used a pie plate approach to help people to visualize the diversity included in wellness. Typically a pie plate is cut into many slices, suggesting that all of the components of our life have to have a rightful organizational position. It looks similar to the USDA Food Pyramid. If you want to remain healthy you must eat your proper servings of fruits and vegetables, grains and dairy products. This pie plate approach is helpful, but it does not accurately depict the concept of balance and stewardship that is indicated by this research. A more precise description would be taking a pie plate and cutting a circle out right in the middle of the plate. This circle represents the “core” or “focal point”. It is sort of like the center “hub” of a wheel. It’s the balancing point. The key to understanding is this: there are many aspects and intricate components of our lives. Each of these things is important, yet none of these things should ever keep us from remaining balanced or “temperate”. Intemperance18 will keep us busy spinning our “wheels” but accomplishing nothing.

The Wise Steward of Wellness

The wise steward of wellness does not keep changing “hats and nametags”(19) all day long like a “makeup artist”. [An example would be the (1957) biographical movie about Lon Chaney, played by actor: James Cagney called: The Man of a Thousand Faces.] Instead of this celebrity approach…although we may function in many different capacities throughout the day, we can choose to maintain the same distinguishable person of character. Moreover; our values, ideals, and principles never change no matter where, what, when, and why we find ourselves. The wise steward of wellness never loses sight of the fact that they are an ambassador(20) of wellness.

Keeping the Wheels on the Track

It has been discovered that a recent train derailment was caused by a common human error known as distraction. Apparently the engineer allowed himself to be distracted for only a brief while. He was not looking to cause trouble, but his lack of attention to important details set in motion an irreversible series of events. Like a “chain reaction” one rail-car hit another. Before long, a major disaster took place. Avoiding the distractions of life can keep your wheels safely on the track. In the wellness world, distractions are things that we allow to creep into our minds that keep things of balance. Just like the train track, distractions are dangerous to the welfare of any steward.


Men have searched from Eden to Lourdes for the things that could never satisfy the human soul. While astronomers have looked through telescopes, scientists have peeped through the tiny lens of microscopes. Adventurers have followed rainbows looking to find clever leprechauns hiding blackened kettle pots of gold. Economists have looked into stock markets, while politicians have lobbied for reform. Yet, neither wealth nor poverty will ever keep one well. Man has been shown to be an offspring of his creator. He has been created with express purpose and design. Man is a spiritual creature in present possession of both an earthly body and a soulish mind. He is endowed with a creative potential, value, and immutable worth. He has been entrusted with the stewardship of maintaining a balanced and temperate life. The balanced and temperate life of stewardship is only thing that can keep our “wheels” continually on the right track.

Gohde, John H. (1999) the Natural Health Perspective(Retrieved April 22, 2011) Web site: http://naturalhealthperspective.comThe Hartman Group, Inc. (2010) Road to Wellness: Cultural Traditions 2010Research Consulting Customized (Retrieved April 25, 2011) Web site: http://www.hartmangroup.com Interfaith Health & Wellness Association (2010) who is IHWA? Historical PerspectiveRetrieved April 15, 2011 Web site: http://www.ihwassoc.org/index.htmlSwick, Catherine (August 2006) Student Wellness: Tracking Demographic Characteristics, Health Risk Traits, and health Information of Students over a Sixteen-year Period (Retrieve November 23, 2010) Web Site: http://etd.ohio.ink.edu/send-pdf.cgi/Swick%20Catherine.pdf?bgsu11514138Hill Company, Chiropractic Economics (2010) Wellness Charts (Retrieved April 19, 2010)Web Site: http://www.chiroeco.com/chiropractic/news/9517/1303/Wellness-ChartsBing.com Health and Wellness Pie Charts (2010) (Retrieved November 15, 2010)Web Site: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=health+and+Wellness+Pie+Chart&FORMGossman, Libby (2005) Article: Personal Wellness Program (Retrieved October 19, 2010)Website: http://www.naturalhealthweb.com/articles/Gossman1.htmlBaucas, Max (November 5, 2005) Doctors, Patient, and the Need for Health Care Reform (Retrieved for the New England Journal of Medicine October 22, 2010) Web Site: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0910001Brim, Orville, Ryff, Carol, Kessler, Ronald 687 pp. Chicago, University of Chicago (December 2, 2004) (Retrieved from the New England Journal of Medicine April 2, 2010)Web Site: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200412023512329

Foot Notes:
1 These pseudo authorities were often those who merely held prestige or political leverage.
 2 The term: temperate describes being accountable and self-controlled.
 3 Temperance was considered to be one of four cardinal virtues. It was believed that no other virtue could be sustained without the ability to control oneself.
 4 These rewards were synonymous with feeling healthy, being strong, and looking good.
 5 The psyche mentioned here refers to the forces in an individual that influence thought, behavior, and personality. Often, this word is used interchangeably with the word “soul”; which was reference to the seat of human emotions and to that which dwelt within but with the implications beyond one’s self.
6 This bloodletting process involved depleting the body of between 1-3 pints of blood. At one time bleeding was erroneously the number one treatment for pneumonia.
7 Neurosis is class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms.
8 The term: sensuous used here is not necessarily a sexual term. The word in its simplicity refers to one’s desire to fill or “feed” their own senses.
9 Notice the term uses here is not “mind and body”, but “mind-body”. It was Thomas Edison who once said that: “The chief function of the body was to carry the brain around”.
10 Darwin, Francis, the Life of Charles Darwin. London: Tiger Books, 1995, 55.
11 This treatise is not intended for religious pontification, but to introduce the reader to a new researched prospective.
12 Part of man’s makeup is spiritual, but yet here and now he is equipped with an “earth-suit” called flesh in order to negotiate his present environment.
13 The term “soulish” defines man as a creature that can think, discern, and emotional enjoin or respond to his environment.
14 Much debate still occurs over the nature of man. Some scholars advocated that man is a dichotomy (man as two parts) and some argue that man is a trichotomy (man as three parts). This papers seeks only to identify the unification of man’s creative design.15 A simple working definition of the word: philosophy, implies an approach to living or an outlook on life that is based upon one’s attitudes and deepest convictions.
16 The term: feeling refers to one’s emotional attachment to their mental convictions that help to enable us to respond by actions.
17 Biblical stewardship involves the wise management of another’s affairs and interests.
18 Intemperance refers to the lack of personal control or balance
19 Referring to jobs, occupations, and responsibilities
20Much like that a of steward, an ambassador represents the interest of others and seeks the welfare of all. 
21Much like that a of steward, an ambassador represents the interest of others and seeks the welfare of all.
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