Before I found my career path in behavioral health and social services, my life’s ambition was to live what my academic friends sometimes call “a life of the mind.” When I was in college, I found this turn of phrase (this preemptive epitaph) evocative and profound. As if I could somehow transcend the mundane, mindless march through life the masses must endure, all through sheer force of intellect.
Again and again as I pursed the promise of internal life, I encountered the debilitating glare of a blank page, and the mystical process of transformation when words welled up wonderfully, and I could barely keep up with my own cleverness! And then the cycle would repeat.
Not far along my academic path, the mundane physicality of the world began to become more urgent than the wondrous world of words. Feeling clever just wasn’t the same as feeling useful. I caught glimpses, by various lucky circumstances, of another path branching out in endless, and not at all mundane or mindless directions.
For many of us, there is some anxiety around one or more of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, whether it be our physical health, our finances, or our intellect. Yet, the dimensions of wellness seem to be all about taking care of these most vital and often vulnerable aspects of our lives and ourselves. The dimensions endeavor to be an antidote to the anxieties we may associate with these domains of our lives.
Intellectual wellness invites us to “recognize[e our] creative abilities and find ways to expand [our] knowledge and skills.” What I like about this definition is that it does not paint a picture of a passive brain; instead, it invites creativity. My intellect is very often preoccupied with other people’s voices—podcasts, books, and, it must be noted, work-related projects. Even though I strayed from pursuing a life devoted to the mind, the miles I walked along that path instilled a deep appreciation for le mot juste, and expanding my brain beyond its habitual march. There is nothing quite like expressing my intellect for its own sake, whether with alotta alliteration or by drawing with colored pencils for the first time (Seriously! Ask me about my pet portraits!)
What has been the most surprising, exciting intellectual endeavor you have tried out recently?