A healthy state is a key concept in Why This Way, and is described in our core beliefs. We often describe things as healthy if they are examples of what we consider to be a healthy state of being, and unhealthy otherwise.
Our description of a healthy state can be seen both as an idealized vision that we want to bring into being in the world and in our own lives, and as a state that we can compare things to in order to assess whether or not we would consider them to be healthy.
We have been giving preference to referring to "a healthy state" rather than "the healthy state" in order to emphasize that there are a wide range of different states that we would see as healthy.
Aspects of a healthy state
- Clear thinking - We believe that people are in a healthy state when they are thinking clearly. The concept of clear thinking or healthy thinking can be used to gauge whether or not we would consider other aspects of society to be healthy or unhealthy, such as advertising, various aspects of culture, or messages in the media.
- Education - Our educational philosophy is based on our beliefs, particularly our beliefs about consent and self motivation. Our educational philosophy can be used to gauge whether or not we would consider various aspects of educational systems to be healthy or unhealthy.
Healthy and unhealthy vs. good and evil or right and wrong
One question that has been asked of people in our group is whether or not we have used the words "healthy" and "unhealthy" to replace concepts like good/evil or right/wrong. Although these concepts are related and have some overlap, they have certain key distinctions. Some of the distinctions include:
- The terms healthy/unhealthy connote the functioning of a system, such as a system of thoughts, or a biological system like the human body, an ecosystem, or a social system like an organization or society as a whole. This is related to one of our key beliefs about a healthy state, that, when in a healthy state, when people are working towards a goal, they check to see that their actions are having the desired effect. This simple idea communicates that a healthy state involves a certain degree of self-awareness and consistency.
- The word evil often connotes or is related to negative intentions or an intention to harm, whereas the word unhealthy usually communicates a state of being that a person or organization is in unwillingly and wants to get out of. For this reason the word unhealthy is more likely to elicit a desire for people to help or heal a person or organization, rather than see them as an opponent or adversary. This fits with our beliefs of the inherent value in all people, and our way of communication spelled out in the rules of communication which specifies that we do not read intentions (specifically negative ones) into people.
- The words right/wrong often evoke a situation in which people can simply correct a "wrong" idea by presenting a "right" one. These words are strongly tied to a notion of judgment, judging actions as right or wrong, which can sometimes lead into judging (and labelling) people as good or bad, something we wish to avoid and discourage. Because different people and groups of people have different ideas of right and wrong, an approach to dialogue and influencing others that relies on "correcting" ideas from a "wrong" idea to a "right" idea can often lead to conflict when people have different beliefs or assumptions in their value system. The idea of healthy/unhealthy encourages people to think about beliefs more as a system, and to work to understand how a person's or group's value system works and fits together before attempting to influence or modify it in any way. The emphasis in the health/unhealthy viewpoint is on systems thinking and holistic thinking, and on helping people and healing rather than correcting and judging.