We encounter the term “health” every day. Everyone talks about health, coaches it, teaches it, gives it away, sells it, longs for it … and proclaims “that it is the most important thing in life!”. Many people describe health as the opposite of illness, but honestly: have you ever defined health for yourself in your own words?

Define health first

In my presentations, I always ask the participants to define health first. This is usually followed by surprised silence, because very few people have already done it for themselves. This applies to private individuals, freelancers and companies alike. Fortunately, there are a growing number of companies that operate occupational health management, but I have yet to meet a single one that has defined the term “health” for itself. (Please let us know!)

The answers to my question are usually the following classics:

But what exactly does that mean? You can also feel good when you are ill, especially if you don’t know that illness is “present”. And what exactly does “harmony and balance” mean? Does it automatically mean that I am ill if something is not in “balance”?

Illness is changeable

First of all, health and illness themselves are not natural concepts, but are primarily based on human perception and the current medical status quo. However, both have changed over time.

Furthermore, “not harmful” is often regarded as a synonym for “healthy”, which is also wrong in itself. Because if you only eat “non-harmful” foods, you will become ill. This means that only foods that ACTIVELY support the maintenance of vital bodily functions can actually be considered healthy in the sense of promoting health.

My definition of health is therefore:

Health is the state at a point in time when every function of the body runs as nature intended to maintain the functioning of the individual person and the species! Healthy is therefore something that actively supports the maintenance of this state.

That means ....

Exactly, a completely different thought comes to mind. Is some illness perhaps healthy? Because what we medically define as a symptom of a “disease” is very often a completely healthy reaction of the body, especially the immune system, to an external attempt, e.g. via viruses, bacteria or physical attacks, to actually damage the body. However, if these tests did not take place, this would be a sign of poor health.

A functioning immune system can cause symptoms that we consider to be part of a “disease”. In this case, however, this part is more of an important preliminary stage of a potential disease, which may ensure that it cannot break out at all.

A very good example is fever. Up to a certain temperature, fever is a completely healthy and natural reaction to bring the body temperature to a level that can limit the harmful effects of viruses and bacteria. The understanding that fever is a symptom of illness, on the other hand, often leads to behavior that may even be harmful to health. Because if the fever is kept low, e.g. by deliberate measures, then it cannot fulfill its task. A medication is therefore often taken as a substitute, which may ultimately have the same effect as the fever would have had, but perhaps without the side effects.

The situation is similar with headaches. They can be a signal of a simple lack of fluids. Instead of following this and drinking, headache tablets are often taken. The paradox is that it is often not (only) the headache tablet that works, but also the water (200 ml is recommended) with which the tablet should be taken. The person affected, on the other hand, only perceives: “The medication has helped”.

Strictly speaking, a symptom of illness is therefore far from being an illness, but rather a health symptom, just as a warning call in front of a staircase is not yet a fall on it.


This section of text above was taken from the training content of our ChronoCoach® and emtrasens® Family Sleep Coach and ChronoCoach® training courses at Inga Ahlers’ Always Well Rested Academy.

Positive effects

A change in the view of health and illness would, on the one hand, massively relieve the system and, on the other hand, give the entire system a common definition that can also be used as a guide in terms of salutogenesis and prevention with a common goal.

Companies should definitely work this out for themselves. If you haven’t already done so, perhaps set up a workshop to tackle this? 😉

How do you see this and, above all, how do you define health for yourself or your company?