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The Learning Curve #5 - "Happiness"

The Learning Curve #5 - "Happiness"

week #5 of the learning curve is coming right at you but first of all, a great and healthy Tuesday for everybody.

This week in the hub we discussed the highly interesting topic of happiness and health. Both aspects can be viewed as mutual influencing factors, whereby the statement can be made that health has a fundamental influence on the happiness of individuals and communities.


Key Learnings:

  • Health is more than just the absence of illness
  • The world is becoming more complex and so does our health
  • Being healthy correlates with being happy

The Report:
ohhh! has been going through changes, inside and out. One of the biggest, and most positive, shifts was our paradigm shift in extending our scope beyond HIV to health and happiness. But what exactly does this mean?

We could ask someone: "What disease do you have?" But maybe it wouldn't make so much sense to ask someone, "How healthy are you?" Perhaps we needed to ask, "What do you mean by that?" For someone claiming to have a disease, this question would seem idle, or even absurd: "What do you mean by being sick? What do you mean by being diabetic? What do you mean by being infected with HIV?". Except for someone who did not know what these terms denote, the question, due to its connotation, would not make any sense. Defining health seems, at least initially, simple right? It's just not being sick. Almost 10 years ago WHO redefined our notion of health, with the definition most used to date:

 “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

This definition has guided us for years to actions that go far beyond fighting disease. However, just like ohhh!, the world is becoming an increasingly complex and diverse place, so it makes sense that we look for definitions that correspond to that. Based on Hans-Georg Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics and Jürgen Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action, Ayres (2007) seek to demonstrate that the concepts of health and disease are referred respectively to practical and instrumental interests in the rational elaboration of lived experiences of the processes of health-disease-care. It is not enough just to expand the aspects or dimensions that one wants to be positive with what we say with the concept of health, it is necessary to say in another way.

Understanding that by the terms health and disease we are referring to linguistic constructions originating from different spheres of rationality in the same field of human experience helps us, once again, to understand the statement that these terms deal with different and at the same time inseparable things. It is in this sense that the author defines health as the continuous and socially shared search for ways to conveniently prevent, manage or overcome the processes of illness, as indicators of obstacles encountered by individuals and communities in carrying out their projects of happiness.

Ayres, José Ricardo C. M.Uma concepção hermenêutica de saúde. Physis: Revista de Saúde Coletiva [online]. 2007, v. 17, n. 1 [Acessado 30 Junho 2021] , pp. 43-62. Disponível em: <https://doi.org/10.1590/S0103-73312007000100004>. Epub 21 Ago 2007. ISSN 1809-4481. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0103-73312007000100004.

Bickenbach J. (2015) WHO’s Definition of Health: Philosophical Analysis. In: Schramme T., Edwards S. (eds) Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-8706-2_48-1