What is Health? Part I: Complete


A lot of people have the erroneous idea that health is a state of “not hurting.”  Nothing could be further than the truth.

I have to admit something here.  I was struggling to think of a topic to write about this morning, and last night I learned that there was a way to find out what the topics that people wanted information about: Google keywords.  I did a Google keyword search in order to see what people are trying to find information on.  I had put in the phrase, “sexual health,” which apparently only a few hundred thousand people are searching for information on.  However, I scrolled down to look at similar phrases as that for which I typed, and under “what is health,” I found that globally, 83,100,000 conduct searches monthly on this phrase, and locally to me – NYC – there were 37,200,000 individual hits per month.  More, there was low competition as to content, which means that despite the fact that so many people want to know just a basic question…”What is health?”…there is little practical guidance available on the Internet.


I’m a doctor. It’s just part of my day to day life, what health is.  I don’t think we doctors ever think of that as a question for most people.  We think everyone knows what health is.  I guess we’re wrong, huh?  I suppose it’s just one of those questions one only thinks to ask when alone and contemplating their lives and state of being.

So, hopefully, knowing that you are not alone in wondering “what is health,” is helpful to you. It is to me.  I’m going answer the question, What is health?, right here, right now, so wherever you are on the spectrum of health, you know where to go from here.

There is actually a very good definition of health available to you.  The World Health Organization defined this term in 1948 and rightly has never changed it.  Here is their very nice definition:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity1.”

Now, we’re  going to break this statement down into its components so it is useful to us.  We’re going to do this in three parts.  Part one is the use of the word, complete.





The World Health Organization specifically chose the word, “complete,” to describe these states of well-being.  I do not believe they meant to imply that one must be a Clark Kent, Isaac Newton, and Benjamin Franklin rolled into one in order to be categorized as healthy.  I believe they used the word as a special emphasize in order to contrast the second half of the sentence (not merely), which happens to be what most people think of as health:

“the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Real health is a positive experience – not a negative experience.  On a scale of 1-10, 1 being, “Oh, my God, throw me under a car and put me out of my misery; 10 being, “I’m so perfectly healthy that I’m sublimating to a higher life form,” to say “there is nothing wrong with me” is a 4.5 and “I’m fine,” would be a 5.

No one should call himself or herself “fine,” unless they believe they are particularly good-looking. George Carlin (we call him St. George around my household – we canonized him last year), was spot on when talking about the word, “fine.” He saw “fine” as a weak word. “How are you? Fine? Bull***t! Nobody is fine,” he said in his 1982 concert tour.  “Hair is fine.”  He’s right.  Fine is a weak word.  Fine does not imply health – it implies that one does not want to acknowledge personal habits and/or factors that contribute to the eventual development of disease and infirmity, such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, and an inauthentic approach to one’s life.


On the scale of 1-10, 5 is not healthy, because if you think yourself as merely lacking disease or infirmity, you are inherently not as well as you could be, probably not as healthy as you want to be, and you’re on a slow creep down the scale toward noticeable illness.

When someone asks you how you are, you want to be great, and you want to mean it when you say it.

Truthtime question for you: When someone asks you how you are, how do you answer?

Next time: “What is Health? Part II: Physical Health

1          Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.


About Dr. Claire

CLAIRE FITZPATRICK is a Doctor of Chiropractic in New York City. Her specialty is helping women and men aged 30-55 eliminate signs and symptoms of early aging. She is owner of JOY! Health and Bodyworks, LLC a holistic, integrative network of holistic practitioners who specialize in health issues related to early aging. She is the author of the ebook, "The Nine Essentials of Health: A Must Have Guide for Healthy Living."

Posted on 09/24/2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I always respond by saying I’m great, and no complaints my way:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: