Wealth over Health
Wealth often wins out over health. Have you seen the ESPN magazine poll of high school football players, parents, coaches and trainers regarding their attitudes toward head injury? The players are the biggest obstacle to handling concussions in a way that will ensure their well-being. In response to the question “Is a good chance of playing in the NFL worth a decent chance of permanent brain damage?” nearly 45% of the players responded “yes.” The article quotes one highly recruited player as saying, “It’s a health or wealth question. I choose wealth, and I bet lots of other players will too.”
Though I was initially shocked by this poll, on reflection I should not have been surprised. This is just one particularly poignant example of the way that materialism has ascended to the pinnacle of our cultural values. Perhaps we aren’t so different from these high school athletes. We can point to common examples that demonstrate that we value the accumulation of wealth over our health. We work too many hours, sleep and exercise too little, and brag about it as if this demonstrates our importance. Probably most of us spend our time, energy and focus on work in ways that compromise our health. As a quick self assessment, did you exercise enough this week? Or were you too busy working to get to it?
Health over Wealth
I admit it seems overwhelming, impossible even, to step out of this obsession with work and our willingness to sacrifice our health for it. It’s never easy to be countercultural. So here are three very reasonable baby steps to get us started on a health focus to counterbalance our wealth focus.
- Limit yourself to 8-hour work days for one month, taking your morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks. There were good reasons that labor unions fought for these working conditions. If you are moderately healthy already, this will give your brain a chance to re-set. Chances are very good that you will still get your work done as you will gain in efficiency what you lose in billable hours.
- Take a full day a week off from all forms of work. (Yes, that includes emails). The idea of a sabbath was important enough to be encoded into the 10 commandments that God handed down to Moses. Perhaps there is some human truth in this traditional wisdom?
- Monitor the number of hours you sleep each night for one month. Are you getting 7-8 hours a night? If not, chances are very good that you have too much stress in your days. Failure to get enough sleep compromises your health significantly.
Do you value your health as much as your wealth? Let us know what you think. How are you doing on choosing health vs. wealth?
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