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Achieving Optimum Health

By Dr. Tim Ong

Optimum health is essential at all levels, from the individual to the society we live in to the environment around us. We have to start thinking of wealth not just in terms of possession of money and properties but also the possession of mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being.

Mental Health
The truth is, mind is the forerunner of all states. With a proper mindset, a poor man can still be happy. Conversely, if the mindset is not right, no matter how much material possessions you may have, you may still be a very unhappy person. Thus, Gandhi said, "The world has enough for everyone's needs, but not enough for even a single person's greed."

So a healthy mind is one that possesses a mindset that can lead to happiness and contentment with self and the world around us. It provides clarity of thoughts, good insight and the ability to see things through an unbiased mind.

To be able to see things through an unbiased mind is no small feat. It is extremely difficult to note or observe the unfolding of events and phenomena without judging. We habitually associate emotions or feelings to events, and allow such emotions to direct our actions. Our likes for certain things and dislikes for others are closely associated with our emotions.

Emotional Health
It is our emotions that lead us to act impulsively at times. Thus a high level of self-awareness in this area is extremely useful. In fact, it is essential to our well-being. After all, things and relationships that may take us years to build can be destroyed in a moment of anger.

There are positive and negative emotions. Positive emotions such as love, compassion and joy should be cultivated, while negative emotions such as fear, anger and hate need to be eradicated. When asked about this, a wise sage of India once illustrated with a story:

An old man said to his grandson, "Boy, I have two tigers caged within me. One is love and compassion. The other is fear and anger."
    The young boy asked, "Which one will win, grandfather?"
    The old man replied, "The one I feed."
At times, it may seem that we have no control over our emotions. This is not true. The truth is how well we manage our emotions depends on how aware we are of our emotions, and particularly on the arising of our emotions. The earlier we are able to note the arising of our emotions, we better we can manage them. More and more researches are showing that our well-being is closely linked to our emotional and mental health. Our body's immune system is generally enhanced by positive mental outlook and feelings. Conversely, it is depressed by negative mental and emotional states. Thus, stress, worry, anger and fear are some states that may lead to physical illnesses such as hypertension, cardiac diseases, peptic ulcers, depression and a host of other ailments.

Physical Health
To maintain an optimum physical well-being, therefore, requires us to focus not only on our body but also our mind and emotions. On the physical level, our body can be kept healthy through adequate sleep and rest, proper nutrition, regular exercises and a healthy environment that is free from pollution.

Spiritual Health
Throughout the ages, wise men have consistently informed and taught us that we are essentially spiritual beings. Although medical science has not been able to reveal to us our spiritual nature, there is much indirect evidence that we would be foolish to ignore. Stories from people who had gone through a near death experience (NDE), or dying people with heightened nearing death awareness, or simply a cure from an 'incurable' disease - all suggest that there is more to life than just the physical state.

Major religions of the world all based their teachings on the belief that we are essentially spiritual beings. According to these teachings, our physical existence is secondary. While it may be true that we should focus our life more on our spiritual nature than our physical nature, it would be difficult for the majority of people to do so, at least not immediately. Things cannot change overnight. Mindset, however, can, and that is perhaps the best place to start.

Financial Health
However, on a more mundane level, most people are still stuck on how to survive from day to day, where to get the next cheque to pay for the house installment, so on and so forth. Practically, therefore, we need to look into ways to achieve a financial state that would theoretically free us from the constrain of 'forced' work. This is where the concept of financial freedom is so attractive. According to this concept, one should strive for a state where we have one or more than one source of income that can be generated passively, that is, even when we don't work. This is what Robert Kiyosaki termed as 'passive income'.

According to him, passive income can only be achieved by becoming an investor or a business owner, not a sole proprietor or an employee. To become an investor or a business owner, you must spend the time and money to acquire financial intelligence. You can acquire financial intelligence through self education. To get a financial health check-up, consult an accountant, a banker or a financial planner you can trust.

Healthy Relationship

"No man is an island, entire by itself."

As a medical doctor, I am in a unique position to confront and comfort dying patients. One of the most important thing that I have observed is that dying people do not ask about their money or possessions. Instead, they focus their remaining energy and strength on trying to heal wounded relationships. It is as though there is an inherent need to get a proper closure to a relationship.

Thus, forming and cultivating a healthy relationship is important for our well-being. Unfortunately, this is something we often ignored until it is too late. If there is any forgiving to be done, or the need to be forgiven, leaving things to the last minutes may end up with an unfulfilled desire for a closure.

Knowing this now, shouldn't we spend more time and effort in improving our relationship with our loved ones, especially with our parents, spouse, children and siblings?

Copyright © 2005 Dr Tim Ong
Dr. Tim Ong is a medical doctor and hospice volunteer. He is also the author of "From Fear to Love: A Spiritual Journey" - a book that explores our hidden fears and how we can overcome them. Dr. Ong shares his personal experience as well as relates stories and lessons from his patients.

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