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?