“There are only two ways to live your life--one as if nothing is a miracle and the other, as if everything is a miracle.”
A Healthy Nation
Health is not just the absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Fundamental to everything we do, health enables us to engage with life. Without health, we cannot easily share in loving relationships with our families and friends, fully participate in our chosen work, contribute meaningfully to our communities, or effectively compete on the global stage.
We all make decisions that affect our health, for better or worse, every hour of every day. In order to encourage and support the right choices and improve the health of all Americans, The Bravewell Collaborative—along with many other groups and institutions—is striving to create a new culture of health and wellbeing for our nation.
The Challenges We Face
Americans pay more for health care than the citizens of any other nation, with costs rising every year, yet we experience more disease and our expected lifespan is years shorter than residents of many other countries. The problem is not our lack of medical expertise; it lies within our core approach to health and the very way in which we live.
American health care is designed to treat single events of disease and trauma. It does not help people become or stay healthy, and our society does not successfully foster healthy behaviors.
Some of the most common chronic diseases—obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, some types of cancer and asthma—are linked to behavioral and/or environmental risk factors. For many of us, these conditions can be mitigated or avoided altogether if we made better choices about eating nutritious food, adopting healthy habits (non-smoking, etc.), building healthy relationships, living and working in less toxic environments, engaging in stress reduction, staying fit, and being purposefully engaged in life.
But for many, it's not that easy to adopt new healthy behaviors. In fact, our society often makes it hard.
Creating Cultural Change
While we all have a personal responsibility to care for our own health, creating a culture of health and wellbeing in America will require engaged leadership from all sectors of society. It can't be accomplished through the health care system alone.
The cultivation of health starts at home with the everyday choices we make—how we live, what we eat and the way in which we care for each other. It involves our schools—what food is served to our children and what exercise opportunities they are afforded. The design of our communities, the quality to our air and water, and the cleanliness of our environment all affect our health. Our health is further impacted by the decisions corporations make in what products they choose to offer and how they manufacture them.
The influences that can cause illness and disease or health and wellbeing thread through our entire culture. We need to ensure these influences are beneficial.
We should start to think of health as the "new green" in terms of scale and impact. It is an integral part of why people care about "green" in the first place. Consumers buy organic products because they are healthier. Green buildings are better for the environment and hence, ourselves. The health of the American people, which is critical to our nation's economic and competitive future, should be treated as a sustainable resource. It should be developed and defended.
So for every major decision we face, we should ask: What impact does this decision have on health?
“The health of the American people, which is critical to our nation's economic and competitive future, should be treated as a sustainable resource. It should be developed and defended. For every major decision we face, we should ask: What impact does this decision have on health?”