In 1993 I served on “Pete Wilson’s California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports”. Bruce Jenner was one of the other 14 board members and we worked together for quite a few years. I remember Bruce as a down to earth, likeable guy with a good sense of humor and a very collaborative attitude.

Watching Diane Sawyer’s recent interview with Bruce, which centered on his struggles and eventual acceptance of being transgender, really affected me. I was truly touched when in the first few minutes of the interview Bruce teared up and needed a tissue. I needed one myself. At the end of the two-hour interview I felt like I imagine most people did – surprised, enlightened and ultimately proud of the major and brave step he took to share his story.

It couldn’t have been easy – and given that he waited 65 years to tell it (and for the sake of his 10 children waited until all of them were adults)–his disclosure was a long time coming. While I am sure not everyone will agree, my guess is that this may be his finest moment, even surpassing the one when he became the 1976 Olympic champion in the decathlon and was given the title of “The World’s Greatest Athlete.”

So what does this have to do with wellness?

Well, in a way, everything. It illustrates the fact that wellness is multidimensional. The idea of looking at wellness only – or mostly – as something to do with physical health is a much too narrow view. The multidimensional aspect of wellness is what I really love about the word and fundamentally why I think it has become such a popular term.

I think, instinctively, all of us recognize that while one can be in terrific shape physically, there are many other parts of our lives that might be unwell. There are emotional, social, mental and spiritual issues along with many other dimensions of wellness. It’s important not to underestimate how greatly family, relationships and financial issues can affect wellness.

And that is the beauty of the term and the privilege of what those of us who work in the wellness arena get to do. We help people find balance, joy and fulfillment and it is a profound mission – perhaps one of the most important contributions to the wellness of the world.  

“Building a Well World” is, in fact, the theme of the 2015 Global Wellness Summit taking place in Mexico City this November. I feel that Bruce’s candidness in his TV interview is an example of contributing to that vision – he too is wanting to help build a well world by sharing his story, and providing an example to those is similar circumstances. And really, to all of us.  

Bruce Jenner – you were an inspiration in 1976. You are an even greater inspiration in 2015.   If we all continue to work together to build a well world, perhaps one day, medals will be awarded for personal bravery, and then Bruce can add one more to his collection.

AuthorSusie Ellis