Monday, April 4, 2011

What is Meant by Well-Being?

Here in Korea, as in other parts of the world, many of us are spending more time exercising for reasons of health. Mountain climbers, walkers and joggers are all looking for better health, often sacrificing large amounts of time and money to achieve it. Although a healthy body is a good and necessary part of our life, a problem arises when the desire becomes fixated on achieving the ideal muscular or  good looks.

An article in a bulletin for priests, commenting on the problem, tells us the World Heath Organization (WHO) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." We as Catholics would add, for well-being, spiritual to the other three  This spiritual component is the one that has been overlooked by many in  the human family, as the physical component became more important. In our Korean society, up until recent times, three important areas of life were defined as knowledge, virtue and body, requiring for optimum development mental training, character training and physical training.  Without the harmony of all three, we will not have the well being we desire.

The article moves on to discuss life in society and what we understand by a healthy society. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has been used as the gauge of a healthy economy but has not been accepted by all. The problem seen by many is the tendency to take the financial and economic potential of a country as indicative of societal health. The fear is that when we strive for these material goals all other values fall by the wayside. To have a healthy society, the mental and moral virtues must keep up with, and be in harmony with, the financial and economic growth of the society. 

When we are tempted  to quench our thirst with a sugary, refreshing soft drink that does not succeed in slaking our thirst, we should turn to the important values of life that make life fulfilling and beautiful, instead of treating them like relics from a bygone era. The third  Sunday of Lent we heard about the living water that Jesus came to give us. This water that will well up within us, we can be sure, will bring satisfaction.