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If you plan to age, prepare yourself — it's later than you think. The challenge of aging well should be taken seriously, but not grimly! Whatever your age, it's never too soon, or too late, to learn and apply the fine art of aging well, really well. Discover what aspects of aging can't be changed and improve the rest that can. Mold your own realities with REAL wellness, Ardell-style.

The 69 tips — one for each year of the author's life — are thought-provoking, challenging, eye-opening, manageable and fun to read. And all provide practical guidance for intelligently designing your own life-style evolution.
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by Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
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Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)

How It Came to Pass that I Became a Wellness Promoter

Wednesday November 19, 2014


In an interview with a leading scholar writing for a professional journal of health promotion, I was asked to identify “the main influencers … going on in my life and career” when I started out in wellness and “who were the key shapers that affected my thinking about the concept.” 

So many possibilities came to mind, but I narrowed it down to a few factors. It was a long time ago—40 years. Could I rely on rekindling the sleeping brain cells from the period in order to accurately explain the “influencers” from that long ago era?

Three Key Factors

The first thing that came to mind was that I had a contract while still in graduate school from Rodale Press to write the book High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease with material I had gathered over a couple years during my doctoral studies. That was major, but that factor grew out of an article I had produced earlier for Prevention Magazine. The article profiled John Travis, a doctor in Mill Valley (where I lived at the time) who established the nation’s first Wellness Resource Center (WRC). The Prevention article focused on the trends and personal influences that led Dr.Travis to create this non-traditional practice. He got a lot of attention on the basis of that article and deservedly so—who had ever heard of a physician who would not take sick people as patients—who for that matter would not take patients! (He preferred to call his customers “clients.”) At Travis’ WRC, he worked with those who arrived seeking to become more well rather than less sick. The title of the article: Meet John Travis: Doctor of Well-Being.

Fortunately for me, the editor of Prevention, Marc Bricklin, asked if I had anything more in the works. I said I did. I didn’t when he asked but I did when I answered, for I decided then and there that I was, as of that moment, “working on a book about the wellness concept.” He said, “Great. Send me an outline and maybe we’ll (i.e, Rodale Press) be your publisher.

So, in a sense, my answer was truthful.

So, having a book contract which grew from writing a Prevention Magazine article which came about because I met a doctor with a unique way of serving customers seeking to get “weller” rather than less sick were three factors that shaped my early period as a wellness promoter.

However, absent any one of these three variables and my wellness career might not have happened. Some, of course, might disagree. For example, those who in a Calvinistic, other-worldly determinism sense believe in guiding hands by angels (or their boss) working from a divine playbook. People think differently about this cosmic matter. In my way of seeing things, all of what follows are examples of contingencies shaping our lives—random fortune for the most part, with a little bit of individual “seizing the day,” now and then. Or not. 


So, from my non-divine, “not at all part of any god’s plan” point of view, the most prominent multiple influencers and issues I faced/experienced and were shaped by include the following (in more or less the order of consequence to things coming out as they did re the book’s content and publication in 76 by Rodale):

So there you have it—my best shot at recalling the winding path that led me to a career writing and speaking about first wellness and then REAL wellness, and living to the extent that I can in ways consistent with the principles of such a mindset and lifestyle.

If I Had My Career to Live Over

In 85 year-old Nadine Starr’s famous poem, If I Had My Life to Live Over, there are 26 lines identifying things she would do differently. (If not familiar with this poem, Google it. It appears in a condensed edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Patty Hansen.)

If I were to write a poem about what I’d do if I had my wellness career to revisit, only two of the changes identified by Nadine would be on the list.

   •      I would take fewer things seriously. (That’s a good one.)

   •      I would go to more dances. (But not that many more.)

Which means 24 of my lines of changes would be quite different. I don’t know what all of them would be—I might need more than 24 lines, but I know what one of them would be for sure: I’d keep a journal so that I could give a more detailed answer if decades later someone should ask me about how I got to where I ended up as a wellness promoter.

However, my best advice would be to consider what Ingersoll said to the Lotus Club members in New York City on March 22, 1890: “…I’m perfectly satisfied that the highest possible philosophy is to enjoy today, not regretting yesterday and not fearing tomorrow.”

All good wishes.

Signed Don Ardell

(Ed. Note: Views expressed in this and other columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of the SeekWellness Editorial Board.)

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