Understanding the REAL Nature of the Wellness Concept

Introduction: What is Wellness?

Because the term wellness has been used indiscriminately for decades, many have abandoned it for more generic labels (e.g., health promotion). Others however, especially those who embraced and utilized it decades ago, continue to describe wellness as a positive lifestyle for anyone seeking to thrive, flourish and sustain vitality and wellbeing. Wellness advocates and promoters do not mistake the term, first used in the 1950’s by physician Halbert L. Dunn with issues that relate to prevention, health education, alternative medicine, the business of spas, product promotions or other unrelated industries.

However, since so many medical people, entrepreneurs, alternative medicine advocates, spa promoters and assorted New Age hippie dippies like actress Gwyneth Paltrow have embraced the term for their own disparate interests unrelated to personal responsibility, I decided decades ago to create a brand for authentic wellbeing.

To distinguish my work advancing a positive life-enhancing model based upon the true nature and logical dimensions of positive wellness, I added the modifier REAL to the word wellness. REAL is an acronym; the four letters R-E-A-L representing reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty.

How Is This Form of Wellness Different?

REAL wellness is about positive approaches, perspectives and possibilities for boosting quality of life. Risk reduction, medical management, prevention and all else designed for cost containment in corporate wellness programming are well and good, as are medical services, medical testing and most customary health care services. But it’s best not to confuse such offerings with the original, genuine form of wellness. The latter entails a focus beyond (and not including) the absence of ills, dysfunctions and discontents.

REAL wellness invites continuous learning about and advances toward life-affirming matters, including but not limited to happiness, positive passions, meaning and purpose, joy and affection, effective decision-making and expansions of personal freedoms. It’s all about living the kind of life you want to enjoy while being in top form physically as well as of sound mind.

If you’re going to invest time and energy looking after yourself, don’t settle for gadgets, diets, dilettante exertions or anything shy of REAL wellness.

Protecting the Integrity and Meaning of the Concept

You might share my idea that other uses of wellness without this modifier are, more likely than not, FAKE wellness. I’m pleased to announce that I have been granted a registered trademark for REAL wellness ® by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The first person I told about the award of the REAL wellness trademark was Dr. Grant Donovan, the Halbert L. Dunn of Australia who popularized wellness in the 80’s and 90’s Downunder and with whom I’ve worked closely since. Here’s what he wrote in a congratulatory e-mail:


Wellness has become a catchall marketing term, on a very long continuum, for everyone from medical and pseudo-health groups to resort owners, spa promoters and tour operators. In fact, it may be hard to find a more bastardized word, in any language.

So, in a randomly assembled and completely meaningless world that is over populated with humans, who are all here by chance rather than choice, I see a wellness lifestyle as a fun way to fill in the time between birth and death, not a way to keep people alive to experience a demented or painful end. That’s just not REAL wellness.

Good luck getting wellness back on track. I hope REAL wellness helps at least a few people find a fun path to the abyss.

Don’t be fooled by those who peddle services and products as if there were a shortcut or alternative to adopting a philosophy and creating/fine-tuning a lifestyle that keeps you in top form mentally and physically. There are no shortcuts or effortless possibilities for genuine wellbeing beyond the limiting norms of the general population. To be at the time of your game, that is, winning at life in all the most important ways, settle for nothing less than REAL wellness.