Steve Johnson, co-faculty director of the ‘Leading from Self-Awareness‘ program, stresses the importance of adopting a salutogenic approach to protect ourselves and others against life’s inevitable stressors and challenges
In our history there are 3 ways we have conceived of health:
- A pathogenic approach: The absence of disability, disease, and premature death.
- A salutogenic approach: The presence of positive states of human capacities and functioning in cognition, affect, and behaviour.
- A complete state approach: The presence of positive state of human capacities and functioning as well as the absence of disability, disease or infirmity.
Much of our focus in the western world has gone into a pathogenic approach. This pathogenic focus had led to enormous financial, human, and research resources being committed to solving our health issues and challenges with mixed success in terms of human outcomes and returns on the investments made.
“Developing a salutogenic approach not only leads to a greater quality of life and happiness but also supports our ability to navigate life’s inevitable up and downs and unique stressors”
In contrast, a salutogenic approach to wellbeing is where the goal is to prevent ill-health or disease or even early death by developing the knowledge, skills and positive human capacities and functioning in cognition, affect, and behaviour.
Developing these positive human capacities not only leads to a greater quality of life and happiness but also supports our ability to navigate life’s inevitable up and downs and unique stressors.
A salutogenic approach was first articulated by medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky and focused on developing capacities in 3 key areas, which Antonovsky called a Sense of Coherence.
- Comprehensibility: This refers to a person’s ability to understand the world and make sense of their experiences. It involves having a coherent and consistent view of the world and feeling that things are predictable and understandable.
- Manageability: This relates to a person’s belief in their ability to cope with challenges and stressors. People with a high sense of manageability feel that they have the resources and skills to deal with life’s difficulties.
- Meaningfulness: This refers to the perception that life has purpose and meaning. A sense of meaningfulness gives individuals a reason to engage in health-promoting behaviours and to take care of themselves.
In addition to a Sense of Coherence, a salutogenic approach to health also advocates developing general and specific resources to help “resist” the inevitable life stressors and ups and downs of life.
Some of these resources might include; building greater self-awareness through an exploration of values, character strengths, passions and life interests; healthy psychosocial wellbeing practices; healthy social support and relationships; deepening our sense of spirituality and knowledge of our culture/s; developing mindful grounding rituals and practices; and developing an overall preventative health orientation.
With these tools in our salutogenic wellbeing toolkit we not only enhance our Sense of Coherence, but we are better able to buffer ourselves and others against life’s inevitable stressors and challenges, but also flourish in the process.
In ‘Leading With Self Awareness‘ we will focus on helping students develop a world-class evidence-based, Salutogenic Wellbeing Toolkit and their own Personal Salutogenic Wellbeing Blueprint.
We believe embracing a salutogenic perspective to wellbeing is the best way to empower individuals and groups, for life.
‘Leading with Self-Awareness‘ is an innovative leadership program that focuses key areas of modern neuroscience to help leaders develop and integrate a nuanced emotional toolkit into their leadership practice.