I’ve been working on this blog entry for a while because, of all the dimensions of wellness, the Intellectual Dimension is the most difficult to define.
Our model’s definition says:
“The intellectual dimension recognizes one’s creative, stimulating mental activities. A well person expands his or her knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing his or her gifts with others.”
What, then, are stimulating mental activities?
The dictionary defines intellect as “the capacity for rational or intelligent thought especially when highly developed.”
Okay, then. What is intelligent thought?
You get the picture. Much of this dimension of wellness seems to be subjective, and even a little circular.
If you ask ten people what they consider intellectual programming, you might get ten different answers. For one it might mean a 12-week continuing education class at a college or university. For another, a presentation of some sort followed by a discussion. For someone else, a trip to a cultural event or museum.
Because this dimension of wellness is so hard to define, we formed an Intellectual Wellness Programming Committee and charged them with figuring out exactly the kinds of activities and offerings that will fit Meadowood’s needs. For the past few years, we’ve been hard at work to create and develop fresh, innovative events and programs that will educate, challenge, and excite the interest of our residents. While the Fitness and Wellness department has incorporated intellectually stimulating activities into every month’s Fitness and Wellness calendar—talks, discussions, brain classes, etc.– we haven’t had a formal plan of action. Until now.
This is exciting stuff. It’s a little like making up a Christmas list—dreaming about all the possibilities and narrowing them all down to the ones we think have the most to offer. Even within the committee, our definitions of “intellectual” were all over the place! So we began by creating a mission statement:
“To explore questions on a deeper level, whether or not that exploration results in an answer. To examine ourselves and our lives as a work in progress through exploration and discussion.”
As you can see, “exploration” is the key. It suggests we are an intrepid group, willing to venture into unknown territory to expand our horizon and our minds.
After we honed our definition, we had many… shall I say, lively discussions about what kind of programming to offer.
We had the arts and culture folks who advocated for book discussions, deeper dives into music and theater, and trips to museums and concerts. We had the folks who love a good heated debate about abstract ideas. We had the education folks who championed a lecture-and-discussion program. And finally, we had those who are looking for that formal university-like experience of ongoing classes.
Whew. I have to admit, at first it seemed like a crazy stew of opinions and ideas. How were we ever going to find something for everyone? It was daunting. After several meeting spent stirring the pot, though, together we were able to come up with a very nice menu that offered something for everyone’s tastes.
Last fall, we held an event called “THINK! A Different Kind of Happy Hour.” It consisted of talking. Yup. Just talking. (And a little wine and cheese.) We provided discussion topics for each table and time to shoot the bull. That’s it. It was a great success. The room was filled with excited conversation and laughter. It ran a half hour over time.
Turns out, talking is still one of people’s favorite intellectual activities. In fact, we are hosting another “THINK!” event next week.
For the artsy folks? Becky Anhorn, director of Fitness and Wellness, decided to start a theater program. The troupe, now consisting of more than a dozen residents, presented the play The Dining Room last fall, and are working on their second production, Auditioning for Love, right now.
Another new addition runs more along the lines of formal education. For years we have partnered with local colleges and universities to offer free auditing of classes but have found that taking courses off campus isn’t easy for everyone. So we now have joined One Day University, as well. With our membership, our residents can sign up on the website platform to access hundreds of live and pre-recorded talks, given by esteemed faculty at colleges and universities around the world. We can use the lectures in group settings, too, and hold discussions afterwards.
Check back soon because we have loads of ideas! Salons, hands-on projects, TED Talk brunches, and yes, even formal lectures. We’re excited to see how our Intellectual Dimension grows over the next months and years, and far into the future.
Until we meet…