While concepts that underlie good public health and population approaches to health go back a long way, renewed recognition that health is dependent on more than the ability to treat has given new impetus to a more comprehensive approach to thinking about and planning for health and human services. This paper offers a reflection on how we conceptualize population approaches to health. Recognizing our current understanding of health determinants and dynamics, the paper explores moving from "avoiding disease" to to "pursuing health." It then examines the pragmatic balancing act of science, art, beliefs and politics, with attendant traps. It concludes with a way of framing action on population health and translating theory into practice.