A question I find myself asking all the time is this: why do people take their health for granted?
I guess the answer is probably multi-faceted, like most things in life there isn’t usually one single and solitary reason for why things are the way that they are.
Some of the contributors to this tendency to neglect our health are: our fixation on getting more, having more, and doing more…our tendency to believe that what we have will last forever (false sense of security), and our tendency to look past the things that we get easily.
When you are young and healthy the truth is you probably won’t even consider your health, but as things start going downhill the real truth often settles in; we don’t all live forever…and the actions that you take today will determine your health later on down the road.
People want to have, do, and get more!
In a world of endless distraction, stimulation, and possibilities our simple minds often become fixated on chasing instant gratification and immediate rewards. We choose the easy thing that we get now rather than choosing the road of sacrifice that pays off later.
It’s the same reasoning why people would rather spend their 2000 dollars in savings on a risky financial investment than keep it in savings and keep saving each month. People want results now, and in a world where it feels better to skip the gym and eat junk food, people will often tend to pick the easy way out.
Why would you want to do things the hard way, why would you want to make sacrifices. and why would you exercise self discipline when you could eat bad food and watch netflix and feel happy right now? People jump from one moment of indulgence to the next in order to drown out the reality that deep down they aren’t happy, all in a perpetuating cycle of indulgence and guilt.
We believe what we have now, we will also have forever
Most people tend to think in terms of forever when it comes to health. They think: I feel healthy today so I will be healthy forever.
People never imagine that one day they could get diabetes or have cholesterol problems, stuff like that happens to other people, and yet statistics will tell us that ¼ people in US will die from heart disease. Stand in a room with 100 people…statistically 25 of those people will die from heart disease- that number is just insane!
What about cancer? ½ of all men will get diagnosed with cancer before they die, and ⅓ of women will experience the same fate. All around the world people are consuming sugary drinks, white bread, pasta, chips, processed meats, and not eating enough fruits, vegetables, and fiber… all of these people feel that they are the exception.
The high probability of low probability events states that there are an infinite number of bad low probability events that could occur to us at any moment. While the risk of getting cancer certainly isn’t low, if you combine the numbers- 33% of people in America are overweight, 40% on average will get cancer, 25% will die of heart disease, in 2012 9.3% of the population had diabetes…if you combine all of these health issues together then the risk of you getting one of them is almost certain.
No matter how healthy you are today, time is going to catch up with you; the reality is you can either enjoy a sedentary life full of bad food and feeling good now, followed by an extremely low quality of life later down the road (when all of your bad behaviors catch up with you), or you can learn to turn down these temptations today to extend your life and quality of life further into the future.
No one will have their health forever, so you can either indulge all you want now and have a shorter lifespan, or you can practice restraint and extend your time.
People neglect the things that come without effort
Far too often we tend to neglect the things that come easily to us. We rarely try to practice and improve the things that we are good at, and so people who are blessed with good health often totally take for granted the health that they have.
When you are 18 good health comes naturally, and as we age we tend to think that health will just keep coming to us the same way that it always has. Since we don’t have to work for our health we don’t value it.
Just like a parent tries to teach their children the value of money, we must learn to focus on understanding the value of our health and doing whatever it takes to maintain our health over time. We often get this false sense of security from the fact that our health is good now…we imagine that things will stay this way forever and we will never have to work hard for our health… and then one day we get a diagnosis and it is too late.
Our health is such a valuable commodity, and it is much easier to maintain good health while you are young and healthy than it is to try to create good health again once you have lost it. That is why it is so important to start creating healthy habits today while your health is still reasonably well.
So many things in life must be earned: a good career, a great relationship, buying your first home or driving a car…we value these things because we must work so hard to attain them but health is a given.
Most of us are born with good health so we don’t think twice about it until one day it is gone, then we have no idea how to get it back- couple this with the fact that we have created so many bad habits that we must first overcome before we can again create good health.
Even people who are given a death sentence often fail to change their health. 70% of people who get a heart bypass operation will have reverted to their old health and dietary habits within 3 years. These people are told that if they don’t change their lives that they will have another heart attack and most likely die and yet they still don’t change.
Many times 20-30 years of bad habits are very difficult to overcome even for the most disciplined and successful amongst us. This is why I challenge you to take control of your health today and cherish it.
There is no day like today to start getting more active, to start eating better, to get a trainer or a coach to help you with your health and fitness goals.
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