Vitality is a word we don’t often hear anymore. In fact it was used more in the early 1900s than it is right now. Popular words that reflect a sense of vitality are quality of life and wellbeing, but are they the same thing? Do they stem from the same foundation? A person with high vitality is known to have physical and mental vigour, capacities to live a meaningful life and the power to live or grow. Wellbeing is state of being happy, comfortable and/or healthy. Quality of life is a standard of happiness, comfort and health experienced by an individual or group. Which would you prefer?
The difference between these words lies in our inner and outer worlds. Vitality is a sense, an inner ability and one that can only be determined from our own point of view. Wellbeing and quality of life are determined by others based on what they observe from you.
The inclusion of quality of life with the exclusion of our sense of vitality leaves many older adults receiving care in a grey zone. Yes, you are receiving care, but no it doesn’t provide you with a sense of vitality, that bounce in your step, that zest for life, that special sparkle.
Vitality is possible in any condition! It is available in all living beings, at every age, in any place and with all levels of ability. Vitality is found through the weaving possibilities of peace and of movement. Possibilities of peace can provide us with vitality through a sense of stillness, acceptance, security, stability, clarity and joy. Possibilities of movement can provide us with vitality through freedom, potential, relationships, mood and rhythm.
Each and every influence on our vitality is unique to who we are. For some, we find vitality in the changing of the seasons, sharing the small joys in life or everyday activities. For others, it’s that feeling of get-up-and-go in the morning, offering compassion for others or harmonizing what was possible with what is possible.
No matter how you find your possibilities of peace and movement you can develop your sense of vitality. It is vital to note that although vitality is an inner-ability; our sense of vitality is vulnerable to the influence of others.
For Margaret Ellis, her vitality was made possible by fighting for what she believed in. In the last six months of her life she fought for a sense of vitality in others. She knew this provided her with her own sense of vitality. Margaret made sure the woman who came knocking at her door each day knew how to get back to her own apartment. Margaret made sure a man at breakfast got a fresh cup of coffee every morning, as he often mistook the salt for sugar. Margaret offered compassion to the many men and woman who entered the care home with vitality and lost their sense of self within months. Margaret did everything in her power to find meaning in the suffering around her. She did so with integrity, through her wisdom and from her life experience as a mother.
The problem with vitality lies in the influence of others. Margaret’s experience with life and death shows us that no matter how much vigour we may have, no matter how capable we are in finding meaning in life, no matter our power to live and to grow, our sense of vitality can be belittled. Margaret and The Battle of Ability have influenced value in vitality.
You are right to say, “It’s my life, my choice and I have something to share”.