The 4th Dimension

Last week, I was having drinks after work with my friend A-, and I dunno how the topic turned to this, but at one point, I brought up how I once learned that there were 3 ways to love someone:  mental, emotional, and physical.  And of course, while you point these out, there are the requisite accompanying hand gestures pointing to your head, heart, and crotch, respectively.  😛

I forgot where I first heard this, but I think the description is apt.  You DO love with your mind, body, and soul.

But then A- twisted one on me and mentioned that these 3 aspects could also be applied to health…  but with the addition of a 4th dimension:  spirituality.

Hmm…  I’d never thought of that one before.  Interesting.  I pondered that thought for a moment.

But I’m not religious, I told him.  I dunno if I consider myself spiritual.  What does that even mean, anyway?  A- mentioned that he’s not deeply religious either, but he IS spiritual.  

I’ve heard other friends mention the same to me before, but I’ve never given it much thought.  Maybe this is worth looking into.  Because sometimes I wonder what my purpose is in life.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced many wonderful things during my time on this earth, and sometimes I wonder, Am I done?  Have I already accomplished everything that’s worth doing?  Is my life fulfilled?  I don’t NEED anything else.  So what’s the point of continuing on?

Food for thought.  I guess this is where spirituality comes in.  Perhaps it provides the answer to What makes me happy?  I dunno.

Anyway, today I did a quick web search with my friend Google and surprisingly, there were a whole bunch of hits on “4 dimensions of health”.  I guess this is quite a popular topic.  :O

This first link that came up was from some site called Sythe, and it gave a nice little graph of the 4 dimensions of health:  Physical, Social, Mental/Emotional, Spiritual.  I think it’s some old archived page from 2009, and for some odd reason, the main member who posted on this thread is now banned from the site, but I think the posts are still quite valid.

And the other 3 dimensions besides spiritual didn’t exactly align to my definitions for love, either–because the site lumped mental and emotional together, and introduced social as a separate dimension.  But it does make complete sense to me.

Physical health

Physical health is self-explanatory.  Here’s what they had under that category:

– Wellness of body & absence of chronic pain/discomfort.
– Efficient functioning of body organs
– Level of fitness
– Nutritional status
– Degree of energy
– Body weight
– Resistance to disease
– Heredity & genetics make up physical potential but our physical health is determined by our lifestyle & behavior

Social health

Social health I believe in.  When I took a psychology course in high school, I learned that normal, “healthy” people should go through life touching other people every day.  I reflected upon my own teenage years at the time, and I’m not sure I had physical contact with others every day.  I’m not talking about anything huge, just maybe a brush on the arm, or ANY type of physical contact.  Perhaps that’s why I had some troubled teenage years where I felt like a misfit.  Hmm…

Anyway, due to the lovely culture of giving 3 air kisses to loved ones and close friends in Switzerland, I get a regular dose of “touching” here, so I’m no longer deprived.  Haha…

According to the website, social health is defined as follows:

– Ability to interact with people (family, friends, others) in independent & appropriate way
– Form & maintain personal relationships
– Assert personal beliefs regardless of influence of peers & retain own personality & values.

Hmm…  so it doesn’t actually state physical touch as part of social health, but I think that is definitely an outcome of social health.  Because having close relationships inevitability results in hugs and kisses, etc.

Mental/Emotional health

– Relates to how we feel about ourselves, how we express our emotions, how we adapt to range of demands.
– Self-concept (way we see ourselves), self-confidence & self-esteem.
– Feelings of accomplishment & success
– Ability to make decisions to resolve problems
– Capacity to function productively in society without exhibiting personally & socially disruptive behavior.

Okay, this is pretty straight forward, too.  I agree with what’s written above.

Spiritual health

Ah…  finally we get to the unknown.  Well, at least my unknown.  The site says this is what it means:

– Relates to sense of purpose & meaning in our life & feeling connected with others (family, peers, community) & society.
– Ideas, values, morals & aspirations influence spiritual health
– Relates to our ability to set realistic goals, appreciate needs & feelings of others, & have ambitions & aspirations.

Eureka!  This is what I’ve been looking for all my life:  a sense of purpose and meaning.  I guess I need to work on my spiritual health, and perhaps my life will be even better.  But what IS spirituality, and what can I do to improve mine?  I looked online, and according to Wikipedia:

The term spirituality lacks a definitive definition.

Oh, that’s great.  :/  But I did another web search on “how to achieve spiritual health” (what would I do without the internet??), and several links came up…  but a quick browse through the first couple links revealed a connection to God and religion.  Um…  I’m not sure that is for me.

Then I found a link to some site that was trying to sell a book and video, but I liked this part of their page:

Attributes of Good Spiritual Health:

  • Awareness of something greater than self
  • Feeling of love, joy, peace, hope and fulfillment
  • Regular personal relationship and experience with a higher power or larger reality
  • Sense of connectedness with everything else
  • Sense of life purpose and ultimate meaning

Okay, good.  This makes sense as to the end-state goal.  But what should one do to achieve this?

I stumbled across a link from the Mayo Clinic about spirituality and stress relief.  It said the key to discovering your own spirituality is to do some self-discovery to identify the most important people and experiences in your life.

With this information, you can focus your search for spirituality on the relationships and activities in life that have helped define you as a person and those that continue to inspire your personal growth.

Interesting.  And then I can cultivate my spirituality with self-reflection and nurture it by my relationships with others.

  • Make relationships with friends and family a priority. Give more than you receive.
  • See the good in people and in yourself. Accept others as they are, without judgment.
  • Contribute to your community by volunteering.

This is awesome.  I already believe in these points and have always tried to live by them, so I guess I’m on the right track.  This is interesting;  sometimes you never know what direction life takes you.  Some random conversation on a random evening, and suddenly I have a new purpose and vision to enhancing the happiness in my life.

I’d like to think that it was in me this whole time, but perhaps not manifested as an implicit thought.  But now that I’m aware of it, then I can actively pursue the 4 dimensions of health and try to ensure that they are all balanced.  🙂


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