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What Is Health?
Societal health & well-being
Individual health & well-being
How to think about health?

societal health & well-being

The health of society is measured using terms that seem almost quaint and idealistic.  Civility.  Generosity. Philanthropy.  Goodwill.  Happiness.  Humanity.  Prosperity.  Community.  These words evoke feelings of nostalgia.  A time when our children played outside and neighbors helped to keep a watchful eye...  when a handshake was better than a contract... when good manners were the norm... when we all had less but gave more.

Today, there are new expressions that attempt at humor but belie serious societal problems.  Road rage.  Go postal. Girls gone wild.  We routinely read about people who behave badly... and worse.  Money managers who steal billions. Crooked politicians.  Corporate scandals.  Pedophile priests.  Homicidal students. Progress seems to have come at  price. Increased social violence, criminality, recidivism, immorality, deviance, antisocial and psychopathic behavior.

What's going on?

Individual Health & Well-Being

On the micro level, we aren't much better off.  We watch Jaclyn Smith wipe away her tears on national TV as she tells Barbara Walters about the common bond that cancer wove around the three original Charlie's Angels.  Is this a horrible coincidence?  Medscape reports that cancer will affect 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men in the United States, and the number is set to double by 2050.  Over 7 million American couples are infertile or cannot carry a baby to term.  The biggest increase is in women under age 25.

Our children fare even worse.  One in 5 has learning disabilities, 1 in 9 asthma, 1 in 26 food allergies, 1 in 150 autism, 1 in 450 diabetes.  One in 143 babies dies before 12 months of age in our country.  Birth defects affect 3-5%.

In a first world country that outspends every other on health care, we shouldn't just expect the absence of infectious diseases.  We should expect decreased chronic disease, cancer, infertility, infirmity, infant mortality and neurodevelopmental disorders.  

Shouldn't we?

how to think about health?

Health isn't merely the absence of disease.  It represents a thriving level of vitality, joy and engagement in life.  Healthy people do more than just dodge colds and infections.  They actively make a series of ongoing decisions which, together, combine to create their everyday lives.  They make good choices:

  • What they eat?
  • What they put on and in their bodies?
  • How they spend their time? 
  • With whom they socialize?
  • What problems and responsibilities they take on?
Set the highest standards for your own health.  Eat well.  Use natural and organic products.  Spend time with people who support and validate you.  Find meaningful work.  Take time to learn and grow.  Pursue wholesome leisure activities. Play.  Laugh. at yourself.  Sidestep drama.  Teach someone. Recycle, reuse, reduce your overall footprint.  Build community. Stand for something.  Be brave. 

And when you aren't feeling well, do you want a health practitioner who believes health is the absence of disease?  Or do you want to find someone who practices within an alternative model?  Take the time to investigate and determine what makes sense to you.



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                   Quote of the week
"Life and health are about choices."

- Suzanne Somers, Knockout, page 5


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