Do you know the warning signs of wellness?

by Rev. Alan Johnson

I have gone to presentations on the warning signs to look for in a person who is suicidal. I have heard lectures on the signs and symptoms of people facing mental health crises. I keep the crisis line telephone numbers in my cell phone.

Cruising the Web the other day, I came across this list of the “12 Warnings Signs of Wellness,” and I chuckled.

If you are wrapped up in the mental health field, especially as it intersects with spirituality/faith, you may feel like you don’t have time left over for amusement and just enjoying the pleasure of laughter. Many of us are serious, we are passionately committed to living with compassion, we are dedicated to knowing more about mental health challenges, and we are disappointed by the paucity of attention paid to the benefits of spirituality and faith in recovery from mental health disorders.

Seeing the gaps in the mental health system itself, let alone the inattention by faith communities to ministering with persons who are living with mental illnesses, I can get discouraged. That discouragement can erode the joy of simple being.

Therefore, it is with some joy that I share the list of the warning signs of wellness.


  1. Regular flare-ups of a supportive network of friends and family.
  2. Chronic positive expectations.
  3. Repeated episodes of gratitude and generosity.
  4.  Increased appetite for physical activity.
  5. Marked tendency to identify and express feelings.
  6. Compulsion to contribute to society.
  7. Lingering sensitivity to the feelings of others.
  8. Habitual behavior related to seeking new challenges.
  9. Craving for peak experiences.
  10. Tendency to adapt to changing conditions.
  11. Feelings of spiritual involvement.
  12.  Persistent sense of humor.

*Adapted from a posting on a computer bulletin board in Waldport, Oregon, author unidentified. Reprinted in Whole Earth Review (Winter 1994), a compendium of brash thinking and lofty ideas.

Perhaps each of us can take one of these signs, and acting as if it were a pill, swallow it and live it, even for a short part of a day. As they say, practice makes perfect. Building on these foundations, perhaps I can rekindle that spirit of joy and amusement in my days, too.  Let us all remember: “Don’t postpone joy.”

Rev. Alan Johnson

Interfaith Network on Mental Illness


The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the submitter. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board of directors or members of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness.