Your Real Wealth is Your Health (7/30/12)
Personal and National Wealth
What does it mean to be wealthy? Is it money and liquid assets – bank accounts, stock portfolios, homes and boats and jets?
Or maybe that idea is wrong. Real wealth may first arise from health – a true sense of well-being.
And could it be that health directly increases your economic wealth?
Health and Wealth
Economically wealthier people live longer than poor people – to a point.
Even a cold can deny life’s flavor. People with flu say to me – when they’re sick – they can’t live this way. Some say they don’t want to live.
And that’s for an illness virtually all will survive without negative end results. When you’re sick you can’t do what you want. Pleasure declines. Dependency increases. You lose control over vital parts of life.
Even minor aches and pains can deny life’s pleasure and flavor.
Like colds. Yet physical activity levels – and not particularly high ones – can reduce cold incidence by half. They can cut colds’ severity in half.
What you do is what you become.
Sickness and Health
Many people tell you they feel “healthy”. But are they experiencing full health – physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being?
Do you feel alert and alive each morning you awake? Do you feel enriched by your social connections? Mentally creative?
A week ago a radio host who feels “healthy” told me on the air how upset she is. She only sleeps six hours a night. Because of work and kids, she never really feels rested.
How much sleep do you need to maximize health?
In the 1990’s Tom Wehr of the National Insitutes of Mental Health tried to study “caveman” sleep.
People went to bed a little after darkness and woke near dawn. They had no responsibilities, no interruptions.
When the study was over people came to Wehr. They did not want the study to stop.
They felt whole. They felt awake. Some said they had never known what it was life to become fully alert.
Our hunter-gatherer bodies are not built for our Internet World. Many definitions of full “health” probably represent something far from optimal.
Instead, health operates on a long continuum. The medical definition of health – absence of disease – is an impoverished definition. Absence of disease should be recognized as towards the lower spectrum of healthiness.
Because real health involves physical, mental, social and spiritual well being. Really healthy people often feel happy – not transitory pleasure, but a sustained sense of understanding and contentment. They generally feel and are more productive, thoughtful, secure, socially engaged and innovative.
Medical care spends far more time showing people how they get “sick” than teaching them to get well.
We need to stop teaching people only about sickness, and teach them how to live.
The Wealth Of Nations
People often describe the “wealth” of a country as its GDP.
But as the Economist points out in its 6/30/12 issue, GDP is a measure of income, not wealth. Wealth means assets.
The U.N. has tried to remedy that. Its new “inclusive wealth” report looks at three factors: manufactured assets, like industrial plants; human capital; and natural capital – minerals, water, forests.
On these measures the U.S. ranks 2nd in the world. First is Japan.
The largest part of U.S. wealth lies in its human capital – its peoples’ skills, education, wages and productivity. That’s a full 75% of the nation’s inclusive wealth.
In a time of knowledge industries, human capital is the most significant capital. Ideas make money.
Yet Japan’s human capital is 88% of its total inclusive wealth.
What’s perhaps the major difference between the U.S. and Japan in human capital? The greater Japanese lifespan. Which allows its workers to last longer and work longer.
Economic wealth has a lot to do with health. A healthy economy requires a healthy population.
People who are sick don’t work as well.
Real Wealth and Health
All life on earth regenerates to survive.
All your acts create information. That information flows through your body like energy, transforming everything. Most of you will be new – regenerated – inside 3-4 weeks.
Give your body the right information and it will regenerate right.
And most of this information is under your control.
It’s how you eat, how you move, how you rest, how you socialize.
Because our bodies have evolved to work in very specific ways. Use the body the way it’s built and it will rebuild well.
The economic wealth of a nation is highly linked to its health. Improved sanitation, nutrition, education, vaccination and lifestyle do more than increase lifespan. They increase our physical, social and mental capacity.
And for an economically healthier country. A healthy economy requires a healthy population.
For individuals and countries, your real wealth is your health.
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