Wellness is awaiting. Not just as an aspiration or platitude, but as a real and living concept that all of us can attain if given the right information, mentorship, ongoing support and dedication to some basic principles. The word concept is a critical element to consider, of course. Because if we were to examine its meaning we would soon discover that its origin comes from a Latin word - conceptum - as something generally conceived; a thought, a frame of mind borne from imagination, akin to an idea, mental picture or philosophy which itself is derived from the love of wisdom.
Keep all of this in mind as we move forward, because at the core of your most important decision is choice. To be sure: our choice to achieve wellness isn't based solely on nutrition or exercise, but also as a mindset and way of life. And at the core of this choice is the commitment to act on logical information and verified data which will guide us along our journey and deliver us to our destination. This is how we accumulate life experience, turn living events into knowledge and learn how to develop good judgement, yet this simple formula is also the manner by which we achieve wellness too.
When I decided to write Life or Grave Danger? what inspired this work became rooted in the choices we make everyday. Without a doubt, we can choose to lead healthy and productive lives that are exciting and filled with robust life experiences just as easy as lackluster and boring ones where we simply settle for mere existence - which leads to low energy, poor health and little else to look forward to but a series of real challenges due in large part to poor choices. The health care system is filled with all kinds of these case studies where bodies left out of balance move from discomfort to colds, flus, sickness, surgeries and a retirement with very little quality of life.
Everything in life is a choice - our choice - first and foremost. Who we are and what we've become is linked to the choices we've made, whether it be consciously selected or subconsciously directed by intuition or mindset. We make these choices based on the available information surrounding us, unconscious programming, experience, observation and the choice to question the known and explore all that is unknown.
Naturally, as I have stated in my book, we derive logical and intelligent choices from truthful and validated information - by establishing facts from trusted sources, from rigorous testing and validation and, of course, through the prism of our personal experience. Surely this is one way avoiding the same choices that have led many to unhappy and unhealthy outcomes. However, there is something of a rushing tide out there today where our collective decision-making process must resist virtual waves of disinformation and propaganda made readily available to us from either misinformed or compromised sources. In fact, there are entire industries dedicated to perverting logic and tangling the scent in the marketplace, challenging us daily with skewed data and poorly laid out context that subverts our well-being longer term. Some of this problem is generated by advertising or corporate profits, yet even our trusted institutions must be held accountable too.
Just examine how we treat and care for disease, for instance. Today, it's a multi-trillion dollar enterprise that treats symptoms for the most part and provides emergency care to millions of Americans each year. While represented by hundreds of thousands of highly skilled personnel who serve in the public's best interest, total expenditures in 2015 rose to $3.2 trillion, or $9,990 per person, and accounted for 17.8% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Those are the bumper sticker statistics because more troubling is that retail prescription drug spending went up 9% during the same time span, nearly double the rate of health care costs and triple the rate of out of pocket health care costs (due to copays, co-insurance, deductibles and money spent on non-covered services). So, as you can see, our health care system has perfected a way to treat symptoms with prescription medication, but spends very little time actually treating the causes of disease.
We know this because this is the process by which most Western - or allopathic - medicine generally operates: the consumer enlists the help of a qualified health professional who in turn provides medication or surgery to repair or fix the symptoms communicated during an office visit or trip to the emergency room. Often, the patient gains relief from drugs and procedures, but they are also consumers who foot the bill and are left with residual and recurring costs to maintain a painless or less acute state without solving the real causes of these conditions in the first place. We know this to be true because the Centers for Disease Control tell us so: chronic disease accounts for nearly 86 percent of total healthcare costs, representing 7 of 10 deaths every year, and often from the most preventable types of illness - heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity.
Meanwhile, there are countless professional associations and government agencies who remain in full control of the food and drug industries to establish what is healthy for us by way of intense regulation and conferred status, which is patently absurd given these statistics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sits at the apex of a system that has virtually reshaped our nutritional intake, allowing large agri-corporations to remove whole-food ingredients from their products and replace them with engineered ones - mostly because this exchange drives margins and profitability for shareholders. This does not mean to suggest that corporations should not be allowed to make money, but what has been the real cost to consumers and our planet's life sustaining capacity?
Today, even our food is making us sick. Not only has the rate of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions increased 263% (1998-2000 vs. 2004-2006) according to the Centers for Disease Control, but also 75 percent of the world's biodiversity has disappeared due to industrial farming, impacting nutritional value per acre and what ends up on our dinner tables.
So where do all these circumstances leave us or - better yet - lead us? As Einstein once succinctly put it, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Which takes us right back to a new love of wisdom, where we begin to educate ourselves to these new realities and adjust our lifestyles accordingly and to all that entails. We must begin to trust our bodies in new way, listen to how they communicate the state of disease, armed with new information that can be validated and - only then - make the right choices.
Now more than ever, we must become smart detectives and our own research community given the complex challenges placed before us by the health care industry, large agri-businesses and even the regulators who have traditionally made many of these decisions for us. We must question those in control, maintain a healthy skepticism, read extensively and plan for our long-term wellness just as we do a retirement plan or a summer vacation with our loved ones. But even more than that, we must make the right choice ... between Life or Grave Danger.
The decision is yours. Only then, can wellness be attained.CHANGE CHOICES COMMITMENT LIFESTYLE MINDSET