TANGLED UP IN BLUE: wellness as a model for social change

TANGLED UP IN BLUE: wellness as a model for social change

July 7 2009 Extravaganza


So often the drive to sustainability and social change is a fight, an uphill battle against the status quo. But what if we looked at it another way; as a path towards wholeness, or rather wellness.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness (or nine, depending on which model you choose to look at) provides an interesting framework for sustainability work and measures of progress. It can also provide a roadmap for leaders, government, teachers, families, groups and business on how to create thriving eco-systems.

Through this lens, wellness is much more than just a health marker and success much more than economics.

Human beings are the number one factor overlooked in decision making and design. At the same time, human action lies at the very centre of current issues and solutions facing society – from climate change, to poverty, to unemployment to disagreements between friends and family.

The common nature to compartmentalise and respond only to the issue at hand means that the whole – the ecosystem is ignored. We see this repeatedly in decision making.

Linear models are now making way for networked approaches based on empowerment and self-determination but the pathway is not always smooth. Networks are messier, denser and more nuanced. This can be extremely difficult to navigate as the linear model made sense, it was predictable and repeatable. A common sense step-by-step guide to often flawed and short sighted success.

The Dimensions of Wellness fits into the networked framework of community engagement, capacity building and sustainability. There is no one place to start or stop but rather layer upon layer of interconnection and whereby success is achieved through the realisation of the whole.


So consider these the next time you are designing for systematic impact:

Social: the ability to relate and connect to other people through communication and relationships. Active support systems based on mutual respect.

Physical: the ability to achieve and maintain physical health through exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management. Healthy lifestyle choices based on uniqueness and personal choice.

Intellectual: the freedom to connect with the world around through learning, critical thinking and creativity. Active minds that are free to explore, innovate and make meaningful decisions.

Financial: the ability to achieve financial independence. Equity in satisfaction with current and future financial situations.

Spiritual: the discovery of meaning and purpose in life. Clear expression of values, purpose, direction and awareness.

Emotional: the ability to understand feelings, strengths and limitations of the self and others. Self-understanding and acceptance.

Environmental: the awareness to respect and enhance the world around. Ecological awareness, action and preservation. To see the natural eco-system as a whole, interdependent landscape.

Occupational: the ability to achieve satisfaction and enrichment from life choices. Actualisation of potential and contentment.

Cultural: the awareness of identity, background and connection. Strong sense of place and healing. Respect for diversity.


Image credit: July 7 2009 Extravaganza – Prediction = True by Pilottage

Title credit: Tangled Up in Blue by Bob Dylan

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