Imagine that a relative has died and left you money in a bank account. What will you do with it? Will you spend it, invest it, or leave it sitting in the account until you figure out your best course of action? DNA is like a sum of money we inherit. It is our biological starting point. Some people inherit more money (analogous to inheriting better health) while some people inherit less. But the most important factor that determines our wealth (and health) is how we live our lives. This includes what we do with what we inherit, as well as what we do to add to our inheritance – be it money or health. We can decide to earn more money, or we can spend it in a short period of time until it runs out. We can trade our money (and health) for short term gain or we can invest it wisely to maximise our chances of long term financial security (and a long, healthy life).
In Australia it’s compulsory for employers to make superannuation contributions to their employees in addition to paying their wages. The government also encourages employees to supplement the compulsory superannuation payments with voluntary contributions. Employees are able to set up a salary-sacrificing arrangement – giving up some of their immediate income so they can enjoy greater wealth later. We see the value in contributing to our future financial security.
But what about our physical, psychological and emotional health? Is it compulsory for employers to contribute to the long term physical health of their employees? There are many ways this could be done – through implementing stand-up desks, offering yoga, fitness and meditation sessions, encouraging people to eat lunch away from their desks, getting fresh air and sunshine during breaks and making workplaces soft drink-free zones (to name just a few possible strategies) – but are there any government incentives do this? One example of government taking positive action for our health is legislation relating to smoking. We need more.
We live under the misguided fear that taking positive steps to ensure better health (on an individual or organisational level) will rob us of work time and therefore make a business and national economy less profitable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The healthier we are, the more productive we are. We have more energy and we solve problems more easily. We think more clearly, we focus more sharply and we work more effectively.
We do more in less time. We achieve everything with less effort.
What I’ve written here is obvious. So why do we live as though the opposite were true?
* To read other HEB’s in the DNA series click below:
Absolutely spot on. It’s a shift in consciousness that takes place slowly, given that many organisations move slowly, driven by goals that don’t include the holistic health of their staff. But certain forward thinking leaders do innovate. I’m thinking of one who chose to install sit down / stand up tables for all the office staff, gave their stations the window views, allow personal touches ( even a goldfish tank) freed a family room where children could do homework after school, and led by example, taking 8 flights of stairs….
Change happens from the grass roots. It’s the smaller changes spearheaded by workers and community that make a difference over time.
Hopefully there will be a “critical mass” shift in consciousness when personal health in all its aspects is valued as much or more, than dollars profit. At the end of the day, isn’t that our most precious possession?
What a fabulous forward-thinking leader you describe. When other leaders see a healthy, happy, engaged and enthusiastic workforce benefiting everyone – including the bottom line – change will happen. Unfortunately, rundown is the new normal and too many people have forgotten how it feels to be in great health. That’s the tragedy of it. We’ve set the bar so low in terms of our health and vitality that we don’t even realise it’s possible to feel vibrant and exuberant. When people start to prioritise their health it isn’t uncommon for them to say, ‘I had no idea it was possible to feel so good and to have so much energy. I never knew what I was missing out on.’
I am optimistic that if enough people use the stairs, go for a walk in their lunch break (or even just take a break!), implement moving meetings, decline soft drinks and so on, we’ll reach the tipping point (critical mass) you speak of. We take our cues from each other. Every healthy choice you make gives people around you permission to do the same. Thank you for championing the cause!
My son has William’s Syndrome and he is living proof that a positive and healthy environment is vital to his development. I have just finished reading NeuroSlimming and wish I was going to the retreat this weekend – as I live in the HIGHLANDS!! I’ve shed 5cm from my waist and 5cm from my hips in 1 week, started back at the gym and had a long overdue hair cut!! I feel all tooled up to be able to live a better life and thank you with all my heart for writing the book. I would be grateful for an audio version of the book as well.
Dear Edwina, thank you for your lovely message. My experience with people who have William’s Syndrome is that they light up a room when they walk into it. They are enlivened by positive social interactions and their smile is contagious. All of us are wired that way but all too often we allow the demands of daily life to take our focus away from what nurtures us most: our relationships. I believe William’s Syndrome reminds us of the power of human connection.
I’m thrilled to hear about the many positive steps you’ve taken to improve your health and wellbeing. I plan to create an audio version of NeuroSlimming in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll meet you at a retreat in Bundanoon some time in the future? With every best wish for your ongoing journey. Helena
I wholeheartedly agree – not much good having superannuation and bad health!
You need both money and good health to enjoy old age.
If your parents had heart problems then have a check like I did at 50 to see if you are at risk. Then take preventative action to mitigate the possibility of anything developing.
It’s practical and sensible to me. Being the daughter of a surgeon I was well schooled in staying healthy and out of hospital.
Brillian ebyte Helena – so well written, informative and motivational – agree 100%. Dr Gloria S Wright