Humans are stubborn creatures. Reinventing the wheel, waiting until it’s too late, not learning lessons or taking responsibility…as a species, we seem to champion these flaws. And we are especially skilled at them where our health is concerned. How often has your health taken a back seat to a full plate of obligations, habits, and, literally, bad food?
The topic of taking responsibility is a big one. It covers every aspect of life, from physical to relational to spiritual.
So, when talking about your health, “responsibility” is a loaded (and imperative) topic.
George Bernard Shaw wrote almost a century ago, “Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world. And what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!”
The crux of his message, aside from perhaps a bit of jealousy for a bygone youth, resonates with the topic of health, as well. We don’t appreciate and care for what we have when we have it.
Quite simply, we are too often guilty of taking for granted our most precious commodities — time, love, youth, health.
And then the moment comes — by tragedy, by negligence, by the unthwarted passage of time — when we lose what is most precious. And we find ourselves living backwards into the “should haves” and “might have beens.”
So, when positing the question of who is responsible for your health, there’s another question implied: Whom have you been giving responsibility for your health?
The answer to the first question is probably obvious: I am responsible for my own health.
The answer to the second? Perhaps not so obvious.
Unfortunately, the healthcare system that so many rely on to save them at the 11th hour isn’t designed to save them from themselves.
It responds to injury, disease, and illness. It’s reactive, not proactive.
And being proactive is what true health is about and that is also what holistic medicine is about.
There is only so much that a conventional doctor can do for a patient who presents with metabolic syndrome, for example. Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atherosclerosis, liver and kidney disease, orthopedic and mobility problems….The list goes on and becomes self-compounding.
It should be obvious that your health — your genuine, sustainable health — is your responsibility. It represents the confluence of your moment-by-moment, day-by-day choices, behaviors, and habits.
The basic health habits essential for life are all within your control:
- body mass index of 18-24
- no smoking
- eating a minimum of 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- exercising a minimum of 30 minutes five days a week
- sleeping 7-8 hours every night
But there’s another element, largely within your control, that indirectly accounts for almost all illness: stress.
Obviously there are things you can’t avoid or control. But every person has a choice in how to respond to life’s stressors.
Do you reach for a cocktail, sugary dessert or high-fat meal after a stressful day at work?
Do you skip your workout, smoke, and/or try to get by on five hours of sleep a night?
Do you work in a noisy, demanding, fast-pace, high-stakes profession?
Are your relationships healthy?
Do you meditate, pray, or attend to your spirituality in some other way?
Hopefully you’re starting to connect the dots of your life and lifestyle to your health. And hopefully you’re realizing that you have a lot more control over your health than you may have thought.
Believe it or not, even the messages you tell your body can influence its condition and responses. If you are not familiar with Autogenic Training, I urge you to study and begin this practice by exploring our Biogenics® course.
There is nothing else in your life — no possession, no degree, no job — more valuable than your health.
And, in the end, no amount of wealth will buy you another day of life.
So treat your health like the treasure it is. You’re the only one who can.
Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. is the father of holistic medicine. Dr. Sergey Sorin is a holistic physician as well as the CEO and medical director of the Shealy-Sorin Wellness Institute. Both doctors recommend the Biogenics® System as part of your overall commitment to self-health and enhancing your positivity.