Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The countdown has begun. In a few hours we bid adieu to 2008 - an annus horribilis if ever there was one. If you haven’t made any resolutions, or set any goals for the new year, now's the time.

What would make 2009 a great year for us seniors? More wealth? Better health? Improved relationships? Less stress? A new romance? We know for a fact that wealth doesn’t always bring happiness. And better health doesn’t necessarily translate into contentment.

Perhaps the key is striking a balance in the areas of our lives that matter. In 1976, Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, came up with his model of the Six Dimensions of Wellness. According to him, wellness is much more than the absence of illnesses or diseases.

Wellness is a state of well-being that we attain when there is balance in the social, intellectual, physical, emotional, occupational and spiritual dimensions of our lives. All six are integrated and continually influence each other.

Dr Hettler's model of the Six Dimensions of Wellness

We can use Dr Hettler’s model as a guide to set our goals or resolutions for 2009. Some suggestions:

Social Wellness ~Work on improving our relationship with our family members and friends.
~Widen our circle of friends e.g. join a senior citizens club or a Toastmasters club.
~Reconnect with old friends.
~Take up a new hobby that encourages social networking.

Intellectual Wellness
~Embrace life-long learning e.g. learn a new language or skill.
~Take up an activity that is intellectually and mentally challenging e.g. online forums, Sudoku.
~Learn to think critically, analytically and creatively.

Physical Wellness~Exercise more regularly e.g. daily brisk walking, yoga or qi-gong.
~Watch our food intake.
~Get enough sleep.
~Get rid of bad habits that are detrimental to our health.
~Go for regular medical & dental check-ups.

Getting a dental check-up at Specialist Dental Group clinic

Emotional Wellness
~Learn to accept who we are - warts and all.
~Find ways to cope with stress. Travel. Play with our grandchildren.
~Remember “not to sweat the small stuff”. Relax.
Group qi-gong session in the park

Occupational Wellness
~Share our experience, knowledge and skills with others in the community
~Volunteer our services to help the less fortunate
~Find a worthy cause to support.
~Undertake a community or environmental project.

Volunteer for the Malaysian Association for the Blind

Spiritual Wellness
~Adopt universal values and incorporate them into our daily living.
~Show gratitude for what we have.
~Respect differences in others.
~Discover meaning and purpose in life.

It is interesting to note that Dr Hettler does not mention financial wellness.
You can be more specific when you set your individual goals. You know best which areas in your life need working on next year. I won't recommend that you cast your goals in stone, but you should at least put them in writing. That way you create a stronger commitment to them.

I suggest going one step further – make your own 2009 vision chart and visualize your goals every day. Trust me, it works. 85% of what I’ve put on my vision chart for 2008 has materialized. And this was before I had read about the
Law of Attraction in 'The Secret'.

My vision chart for 2008 - 85% of goals achieved!

2009 will turn out to be another annus horribilis if all we do is pass each day aimlessly, watching TV and slowly withdrawing from the world around us. As Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew says, "people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners die off very quickly."

Enough said. Here's to wellness and active ageing in 2009 and beyond!

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