Health and Life Today and through the Ages

By Johanna Smith B.Ed, Cert Early Childhood, Teacher, Rockingham, Perth WA.

I recently attended a Universal Medicine event day, where a photo from the 1960’s/70’s was presented alongside a discussion forum around health. This photo was of a group of young people who looked at ease with each other, had genuine smiles on their faces, were of a healthy weight range and their bodies reflected an openness and naturalness. The photo was really pleasant to see and reminded me of the feeling of being free in my body that I had when I was very young – something that could not be faked.

As a whole, we looked at the photo and shared what we saw before us. There was pretty much a consensus that this photo was sharing something that was not commonly seen in today’s society. It was not only showing how the individuals were, but it also revealed how they were with each other, how they felt and more importantly what they were reflecting about life back then. A way of life that, from this photo, seemed to support bodies to look and feel vital, engaged, open and ‘healthy.

Serge Benhayon then presented and facilitated us through a valuable workshop around the word ‘Health’. Much was discussed that was clear and made complete sense, yet some of it I had not really considered before.

The presentation and conversations in the workshop made me realise that the words ‘health’ and ‘being healthy’ relate to something we have now come to perceive as something that we ‘do’ in life – as one part of life. We have, over time, created this meaning to be what it is today and put ‘health’ into its own compartment, somehow separate from the whole of life. Therefore we are now living by a false – a bastardised – definition of ‘true health.’

We started by talking and sharing what ‘health’ means today and this created lots of discussion. Serge asked the group to split up and sit into age groups of 80 year olds, 70 year olds, etc., all the way down to under 20 year olds. Each group discussed and shared life, health and what it meant and looked like for them as they were growing up. After this we all came back together to share what we had discussed in our age groups with the whole group.

In order for us to get the true picture of ‘health through the ages,’ Serge asked us to share about health and life from our age groups, starting with the oldest group all the way down to the youngest group. This is where the whole group was able to see and feel ‘health through the ages’ – basically how we as a society have moved from what was depicted and evident in the photo shown, to what we see and feel in people’s bodies, behaviours and attitudes in and around health today.

Generally it was shared that the people who were in their 80’s, 70’s and 60’s did not really have a clear definition of the word ‘health’ back when they were growing up, except that the absence of sickness generally meant you were healthy. These groups shared things like serious illnesses – such as cancers, diabetes, mental illness – were rare and hardly spoken about; that life and health was one and the same and it did not carry its own activities or definition. Life’s activities back then were what kept you healthy and people didn’t make time to ‘be healthy’ or ‘do health.’ This point alone was very interesting to hear. Health back then was without definition but the way of life was what supported healthy bodies. So at this point there was no compartmentalisation of ‘health’ in life.

Then, as those in their 50’s and 40’s shared, we could start to see that some health fads were coming in; being healthy was getting promoted, but life in general still had more play and activity than it does today. This group shared that people did do sport and for that they exercised and kept healthy, people did have an awareness about eating habits, yet there still was not a complete division between life and health, even though it was starting to creep in. This group also shared that more awareness of some illnesses were creeping in and it was heart disease that was spoken about the most at this point.

As those in their 30’s and 20’s shared, the absolute shift and compartmentalisation of health was obvious along with the great deterioration in the way of life, relationships, behaviours and activities, and the dramatic increase of serious illnesses and diseases within it. This group shared that being healthy meant you went to the gym, went for a run, did aerobics, ate certain fad foods, were a particular image and fitted in, and so on. Yet health here all took place in isolation to life, was a part in life but not a natural part of a way of living.

This means that activities and behaviours that go completely against ‘true health’ – ones that in fact abuse the body such as drinking, excessive exercise, smoking, starving oneself, overeating, eating sugary and fatty foods, spending excessive time on technology devices, getting little sleep, working in drive and so on, can play out while the body that is doing them still considers itself ‘healthy’ because it spends some time at the gym or ‘doing health’ now and then. And so the lie of health today is revealed.

Meeting the criteria of the current compartmentalised perception of health today such as going to the gym, exercising and eating certain foods, does not mean that one is truly healthy. One could say that this mentality allows us in society to continue in our ill ways and deteriorate, without choosing to be aware of unhealthy patterns and behaviours, let alone look at the root cause of why we choose them. The lack of self-responsibility is then taking place because we collectively now ‘box’ what ‘health’ is. How can we ever consider that true health is about the ‘all of us’ – our mental health, our physical health, our way of relating to people, our confidence, feeling settled and supporting our body and ourselves in all areas so that we can be all that we are designed to be in life – if health today is a tick box exercise?

The thing is, we all have values and every human being on earth knows these deep down. True Health means we consider how we work, how we relate, speak with family and friends, the depth and quality of all our relationships and interactions, maintaining a consistency, respect, sensitivity and much more. It means we consider absolutely everything about us; how we are and most of all the fact that others are always on some level affected by what we think, say, do and express in life, just as much as we are. We may think whatever we like, but our bodies reveal the truth of our choices and the quality of the relationship we have with them, ourselves and life is the foundation for living in a way that is either harming or truly healthy.


Read more:

  1. Have you ever considered what is true health and wellbeing?
  2. Is the answer to our health right under our nose?  

414 thoughts on “Health and Life Today and through the Ages

  1. It is true that people do seem to look more care-free in photos of bygone ages, whereas today people look more and more intense, emotions are very high and extreme behaviours are commonplace now.

  2. It feels like there are changes as we go through the generations, but without the rose coloured spectacles, there is little true change. In my childhood, I remember more air pollution, lead petrol and paint, men working in the mines and with asbestos damaging their lungs. Now we have too many insecticides, junk food, obesity and heart disease, but the point is, we have more freedom of choice today to choose how healthy we want to live. The question remains.. why are we not choosing to live healthier?

  3. We have the signs everywhere. How we have been living and the world we have created is not working. Even our own bodies are yelling out this fact. We say we want a great world and a loving world. Yet – obviously and tragically – it seems that it has to get much much worse before we are ready to accept there is a flaw in the whole foundation of how we are approaching life.

  4. It is correct that we often compartmentalise our activities in our life, as in I go to the gym and do yoga so I can go out for that drink, get stressed and stay up late that night as if the good points will balance out the less favourable activities – we do not live with point systems however and the body feels the disregard when ever we chose it. We do separate life these days and in this we do not take responsibility for the whole of life and how every choice we make matters. Health is a matter of vitality and commitment to life, its foundation builds from every choice we make, it is not about many muscles you have, how far you can run, or what yoga pose you can get in to, but the sparkle in the eye and a true responsibility to keep healing and caring for the whole of us.

  5. There are primitive societies where everybody looks very healthy and in some societies that is actually the case but in other societies there is a very high death rate and only the fittest survive – the survivors look good but that is not the whole story. What we are currently managing is keeping people who are ill alive and, somehow, functioning for much longer but we are unable to reverse the trend so we are looking worse and worse and now in some countries death rates are actually increasing again despite the miracles of modern medicine.

  6. I am almost 50 years old, yet I do not look or feel this at all! I fact people often think I am still in my 30’s! I do not engage in the usual way of life that is common today. I do not watch TV – I prefer a walk in nature and to talk to real people, I do not drink alcohol – I hate the way it makes me feel, I keep active, I like to learn from every situation instead of complain about it, and I am learning to love myself and others more and more each day. With an open attitude and an open heart there is no need to crumble up and become a statistic of our modern day living. Adopting a much more natural way of life is where it’s at.

  7. I think instead of stopping and really considering what’s truly going on that our health, wellbeing and vitality levels are decreasing in many ways, it gets dismissed as ‘normal’ or not even appreciated and instead it is championed that we may live longer, without care for the quality of that life all the way through…

  8. In the 18th century people died regularly and suddenly, so a 40-year old was normally considered too old to marry. Over time medicine and other measures made it easier to go into old age but are we now testing just how much medicine can rescue us from our lifestyles so we can continue living?

  9. It we start to consider and ponder the quality in which we work, move in and our relationships then we can be honest in terms of true wellbeing and health.

  10. How fascinating to be able to get a picture of what health and wellness looked like through the ages in this way. I wonder if the steep rise in the 20s and 30s group also saw a steep rise in marketing power and branding. We started to be ‘sold’ a picture of health and wellness.

  11. I reckon we have compartmentalised health to be just what’s happening in our physical body instead of it being related to how we think, feel, how we express and relate to others etc. It has to be an overall thing that encompasses every part of life since everything has an effect. Not only have we compartmentalised health to be what occurs in the body but we have separated it from what precedes what happens in the body – the way we live our life.

  12. People will often say they have good health when they actually have arthritis, mental health issues, and other long term illnesses that they have come to accept as normal. I have heard Serge Benhayon say that we are moving towards health being an absence of terminal illness. We need to redefine and reassess what being healthy means to us before then.

  13. True health is a spherical way of living that encompasses the all. Serge Benhayon reflects this in his living way 24/7 and continues to inspire others to make different choices to find true health for themselves.
    “It means we consider absolutely everything about us; how we are and most of all the fact that others are always on some level affected by what we think, say, do and express in life,”

  14. We need to be far more honest about life and exactly what is reflected back at us. This article offers a great example of how we are great at fooling ourselves by just what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore. Maintaining a reduced view of life will keep us unintelligent and retards our evolution.

    1. That is true – it gives us the illusion of comfort but our body and, regularly, our mental health gets worse.

  15. The reality of our health and how we are living that used to be known seems to have got lost in our so called evolving society and the fix it mentality of function over true quality and livingness.The awareness of this is a great call and knowing that can bring about loving choices and allow true vitality to be lived.

  16. True health comes from living in connection with the deep well of love and wisdom that lives within us all regardless of our age or the ages.

  17. The awareness and truth of our health in the world is declining rapidly and something clearly needs to change and it seems only when disaster strike us do we come together and bring the basis of love back into our lives.

  18. We think we’re a smart species but when you take a close look at us…we don’t always like what we see.

  19. “We may think whatever we like, but our bodies reveal the truth of our choices and the quality of the relationship we have with them, ourselves and life is the foundation for living in a way that is either harming or truly healthy.” I was thinking about this yesterday when I observed people around me and feel that we have accepted our bodies looking a certain way and accepted that as normal and that normal means being slightly overweight and quite often bloated. I’m quite slim and sometimes I consider myself too slim if I compare myself to everyone else but I actually think we’ve gotten used to a shape that might not be fully true.

    1. I agree Matts, there is a relationship we develop with our bodies that can be as sensitive as we allow it to be, and that relationship will determine our body shape and how at ease we are with our body shape.

  20. I do remember taking my health and wellbeing for granted growing up as if it is something that does not require self care and honouring and cherishing of the body.

  21. Great to highlight how far the majority of people do not incorporate health to be a way of living and that there is a need to pursue health as a necessary activity to achieve wellness, which is very far from the truth of what natural health and vitality is.

  22. I was speaking with someone recently who had been quite unwell and had had an overnight stay hospital. The medics were amazed that this person only presented with ‘one condition’ as more often than not these days people who are sick have a multitude of symptoms. This change is definitely a sign of the times, and asks us to reflect on how we are living as a society that influences our health to such a degree that it becomes normal to have multple symptoms and not just one or two.

  23. Recently it’s become more and more ‘clear cut’ and assumed that if you hit the gym then you’re fit/healthy, and if you don’t then you should ‘really exercise more’. This completely neglects the fact that fitness is to do with so many different factors, and there are many ways you be active, and that for teenagers (my peers) it shouldn’t be a case of gym being the only option. Gyms aren’t for everyone, and it’s important to find your own way of staying active and feeling fit for your life.

    1. We’ve boxed what healthy is instead of it being an overall lifestyle choice. Maybe that is convenient as then we can tick a box and say we are healthy without looking at the whole picture.

  24. “The words ‘health’ and ‘being healthy’ relate to something we have now come to perceive as something that we ‘do’ in life”. Studying public health, I have been surprised to find how little agreement there is in the literature on the word health. Observing the way people talk about health in general, I find the meaning has had a significant downgrade just ion my lifetime, especially with the current era marked by so much chronic health. In Plato’s writing health is holistic, where there is a state of health and harmony in body, mind and soul. There have been many teachers over time who have shared this same knowing that health is far more than a certain gym look, a diet or level of function. Health has to be holistic and include our soul, as this is an essential part of who we are, the ignoring of which will certainly create ill-health.

  25. Wow what changes in such a relative short time in remembering what is accepted as true health and the way we are living as being part of this naturally. Coming back to a true marker of health and well being is something we need to bring our attention to through our bodies and all we truly feel and live and not in isolation of our connection with ourselves.

  26. Years ago when I was a kid having good health was just an accepted fact unless you got TB, Polio, Mumps, Measles etc. Nowadays it seems like we consider ourselves healthy even though we may have a multitude of niggly things affecting our every day and we say we are healthy because we don’t have cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Could it be that the definition of what’s healthy has changed?

    1. I would say yes to that Julie. It seems that there is a general acceptance that our levels of health are way below that which they used to be, and that it is relatively ‘normal’ to have some sort of ailment.

  27. Knowing that nostalgia for the past isn’t true, but that there’s something we seem to be incrementally losing every day, we find ourselves in an awkward spot. Rather than ignore and carry on, it’s crucial that we wake up and see that not only are we not progressing the way we think we are, we’re living further away from Love than ever before.

  28. Let’s consider that to be healthy means more than just being well and in fact we are made to be vital, joyful and fully engaged in life.

  29. I turned 50 last year and over my life time, especially in the last 20 years I have seen a dramatic change on what people view as being healthy, illness and disease is rife, everyone knows someone with cancer and this obsession with body image sees many overdoing diets or pumping iron and taking steroids and muscle building products.

    1. The line in the sand has been moving and when we all accept the moved line, that is now the normal. But what if it is far from what is truly normal and in this case healthy?

  30. Redefining health as the absence of disease rather than as the presence of physical and mental vitality as well is a tragedy.

  31. We need to truly be aware of what is actually going on if we want to effect a change in the state of our health.

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