Are you maximising on the link between wellness and happiness?

As the growing global focus on wellness influences everything from architecture to education, are spas stepping up or are they missing out on a massive opportunity?, asks wellness consultant Maria Haggo

Has the wellness of meaning become the new meaning of wellness? Creating value and meaning is an incredible happiness booster and has become even more important with the rise of mental and emotional disease. If the ultimate goal of human being is simply survival, does it matter how “well” we do that? Perhaps it really matters. Perhaps how “well” we survive has now become the actual purpose in itself; the new upgraded human purpose. If that is the case, then are spas stepping up to the plate and contributing to this new human purpose, or are we missing the world’s greatest opportunity?

We have seen the health and wellness industry grow at astounding rates over the past decade and we have seen the focus on wellbeing and happiness becoming a highlighted topic across many, if not most, industries and sectors. Everyone is getting in on the wellness action. 

The United Nations recently held a Happiness Conference. Dubai has launched a Ministry of Happiness. Bhutan leads the way with its Happiness Index. We also have an annual World Happiness Report and we are seeing wellness in workplaces, schools, hotels, food and beverage, and retail. Technology is being developed specifically with wellness in mind. Communities are being built around wellness design and architects are honing in on it as a concept. It is truly becoming a global focus of gigantic proportions. 

With more access to information and knowledge, we are also starting to understand that health and happiness is more than just a physical state, of being free of injuries or illness. We are beginning to have some meaningful conversations around the theory that our mental and emotional health matters greatly in our overall state of wellbeing. We are starting to understand that what ultimately makes us prosper is by making a difference, by personal growth and meaning, and through social connections and relationships. 

For 15 years, I ran many beautiful spas across the world and during those years there has been one thing that has left me forever changed and has shaped this next chapter of my career. It is the discovery of the impact of wellness education. It all started as a marketing initiative to drive new customers into the spa, but what happened was so much more. I began to host all kinds of wellness-related events, workshops and programmes to suit all needs. The part that really blew me away was to see the changes in the participants. Profound changes. People would come to attend a session, sometimes they would break down and cry and then they would be lifted up and you could literally notice a transformation within them in a matter of an hour or two. Any spa visit has its positive impact, but this was reaching the guests in a way our regular spa menu couldn’t. 

And it is all so simple. We already have all the pieces of the puzzle to give people an opportunity to learn how they can manage their lives in a more positive and productive way. I believe that the possible impact of sharing this type of knowledge knows no boundaries in how it can affect our world and future. If we begin to look at our business beyond the profit and loss account we can provide so much more. 

According to Jason Silva “the new billionaire is someone who positively impacts a billion lives”. This could not be more meaningful. Prompted by this notion, ask yourself what purpose your business is serving? What problems do you solve for others? What impact is your business making? Perhaps lighting your impact torch can lead you on your way towards your own purpose and fulfilment.

I see spas taking a major role in the way our communities develop in the future. I see the possibility for spas taking on the natural role of becoming a place where people not only go to restore, revive and rejuvenate, but also a place where they can learn, grow, socialise and connect. If health and wellness is the new religion, can spas be the new church? Spas have the potential of becoming an ever more significant place to support the mental and emotional wellness realm 

Maria Haggo has a wealth of experience in the spa and wellness industry, across multiple continents, and through a variety of brands like the Jumeirah Group, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton. She launched the UAE Wellness Week in 2014 and, in 2016, her wellness consultancy Little Miss Wellness.