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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.

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Don's report archive

by Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
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Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)

Designing A Well Environment (the final essay in a three part series)

Tuesday March 1, 2005


I thought I said enough about a well environment by the time I finished the second edition of this essay series. However, I changed my mind after I received the following commentary on the two essays from an alert visitor to SeekWellness.com, namely, Mr. Rick Clark of Tampa, FL. Mr. Clark offered this assessment:

I didn't recognize anything in the way of practical, tangible, and specific (as opposed to general and vague) suggestions, along with instructions on how to implement them, in creating a well community.

In my typical cheerful, positive manner, I wrote a thank you, polite letter of acknowledgement to Mr. Clark. This is what I said. 

What amazing advice. Sometimes, a friend does a world of good by saying, when everyone else is bowing and scraping and chanting, in unison, 'We are not worthy,' these immortal words, in so many or rather so few OTHER words, 'Ardell--you're full of poop.' Thank you. I needed that. Mr. Clark, I must applaud your 'The emperor is buck nekked' - like observation. You remind me of the politically incorrect H.L. Menckin. There is a reason you did not recognize any 'practical, tangible and specific suggestions.' There ain't none. You cut right through the bull-bleep."

In fact, Mr. Clark is correct to point out that my advice to the builders and architects was indeed short on practical, tangible, and specific design suggestions, along with instructions on how to implement them, in creating a well community." Why? Primarily because of the limits of physical or environment features as influences on the adoption and sustainability of wellness lifestyles. Relative to the predominant role of education and attitudinal/behavioral factors, reinforced by supportive cultures, the significance of design features is easily overestimated.
 
Think, for examples, of key aspects of wellness and ask yourself what physical features could possibly establish or even encourage such qualities to be manifested, honored and otherwise reinforced? Here is a partial list of well indicators. In my view, no number of physical designs will lead to these outcomes, all of which seem separate and apart from environmental features.

Qualities of healthy people, which also seem independent of buildings, trails and the like, include the following characteristics: 

These are qualities of well people. There are many more such qualities in at least sixteen skill areas in the physical, mental and meaning/purpose dimensions of wellness. Few, if any, could enable the practical, tangible, and specific (as opposed to general and vague) suggestions that Mr. Clark found wanting.  
 
Of course, none of this should discourage anyone from trying to design features of a well community, particularly for oneself wherever he or she lives. Nor does it excuse Mr. Clark for being so frightfully honest. (Just kidding again.)
 
All the best. Be well and always look on the bright side of life.

Domain: purpose
Subdomain: applied wellness

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