A Systems Thinking Approach to Wellness

We are defined by what we do. The things we do are called behaviors. Behaviors are not confined to actions that can be seen by others. Our behaviors also include our thoughts – rather how we think. A behavior repeated often and unconsciously becomes a habit. A collection of habits interact with one another to define you or me as a person and how each of us shows up in the world. Our habits determine the degree of control each of us has over our lives. Equally, the way we perceive our life experiences feeds back into the system to influence our habitual thoughts and actions. A combination of the agency we feel and the way we perceive our experience either moves us  along a path of greater flexibility and growth or down a path of increasing rigidity and stagnation. A person who learns how to control their habits has the power to craft their own destiny. 

Systems Thinking

The human experience is a system. Thinking about yourself as a system rather than a static identity is empowering because it gives you room to change over time. Thinking in systems has been rigorously applied in the fields of engineering, programming and business organization. Recently, more attention has shifted toward the powerful implications systems thinking also has on the biological and cognitive sciences. Researchers have been exploring how we can use the methodology of systems thinking in our personal lives to find meaning and greater purpose. So, how does systems thinking help us improve the quality of our personal lives? That’s my area of expertise, but before we go into that, I wanted to share this article by Leyla Acaroglu. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea of systems thinking, she breaks down the basics of what it it. You can check is out here.

The 3 Domains of Wellness

Now, I’d like to show you how I apply systems thinking to help my life coaching clients increase their overall health and wellness. For the past decade, I’ve been developing ways to help busy people practice habits that support their mindset, exercise, and nutrition. I like to think of a person’s wellness as being an intersection of these three domains. Once we establish the interconnected way mindset, exercise, and nutrition contribute to our overall wellness, we can explore ways to improve the quality of our lives.


The way we think and our mental models impact our health and wellbeing. Mindset plays a huge part in determining the outcome of a person’s life choices and outcomes.


This includes the way we move and how our body adapts to that movement. Proper exercise challenges the tissues on our bodies to grow stronger, more supple and more resilient.


The way we eat, what we drink and the air we breathe is foundational to our health. The nutrients in the foods we eat are absorbed, used for energy and help sustain the cells of our bodies.


The best way to pursue lifelong wellness is to design a lifestyle that supports the best version of yourself. Most of the critical work should be woven into every moment of our lives by building healthy habits. Anything else is just tempting fate.

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