I treasure wisdom that gets passed down over time. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” “Soup for the soul.” “Live with a healthy mind, body and soul.” Yet if we genuinely value and respect these truths, do we routinely follow and understand fully their application to our lives? Sadly, I think not. In fact, I fear like an overplayed tune, that our ears have become mute to how powerfully important these prescriptions remain for our overall well-being and happiness.
In a four-part series, 4 Cornerstones, I will pursue what it means to genuinely live with a healthy MIND, BODY and SOUL to create healthier BEINGS. In short, how tobe4HEALTH.
Let’s begin with our state of MIND. The mind is arguably the most complex and valued organ in the human body. It makes us human, with the capacity for languages, thoughts, morality, art and more. The mind is also the foundation for our personalities, memories and how we perceive the vast world. Yet, recent data suggests that our minds may need more “attention.” New research out of Australia’s University of Queensland, reveals that global depression rates have risen by one-third since 1990. Equally troubling is that four times as many younger people were diagnosed with dementia in 2015 than in 2011, according to new research published by the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI). So have we “lost our minds?” Fortunately not yet, but we need a rally cry for action―literally. In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus and improve overall brain health. The question becomes whether society and the forces that influence us are sharing this information adequately and creating environments in which we can reverse these alarming trends. I will explore brain health further in Part #2 of the series.
Next let’s ask, are our BODIES strong and healthy? The data screams no. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report on cancer, humanity is on the brink of suffering from a cancer disaster. The WHO predicts that new cancer cases will rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within two decades. Cancer deaths will increase from 8.2 million a year to 13 million a year over the same period. What happened to the battle against cancer? Let’s look at another killing disease, diabetes. In America, nearly one out of every ten people suffer from diabetes; and most cases are type 2, which is typically preventable and reversible. As I have shared in previous blogs, the CDC predicts that nearly one in three children born after 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes unless trends change.
Part #3 in the series will be dedicated to creating and maintaining healthy BODIES. There is hope that these statistics can improve through positive lifestyle changes. Study after study demonstrate that exercise and weight loss reduce our cancer and diabetes health risks substantially. But what is society doing to help change the habits and forces that are contributing to these life threatening diseases? Are we truly prepared for the personal and societal consequences if we fail to act?
Lastly, we are reminded of the phrase, “Put your heart and SOUL into it.” But what does this phrase really mean, especially with regards to the nature of one’s soul? Believers of faith and religions have long accepted the existence of a soul. The Pew Research Center cites that nearly nine out of ten people still believe in God or the notion of a universal spirit. Even some scientists now acknowledge the notion of a soul under various concepts, including the idea of biocentrism – the “theory of everything.” American scientist Robert Lanza theorizes that life and biology are central to being, reality and the cosmos. Life creates the universe rather than the other way around. Biocentrism proclaims that the physical world cannot exist as we know it unless there is consciousness, or a soul, at a higher level.
So if the vast majority of people believe in God, and religions as well as science (at least some in science) acknowledge the existence of a soul, is it not appropriate to challenge whether our souls are healthy? Are we feeding our souls with the sensations, thoughts and beliefs that are positive? Perhaps equally important, what contribution are our souls giving back to ourselves and humanity? I will ask and answer these questions and more in Part #4.
After dedicating my career to health care and learning about and sharing what it means tobe4HEALTH to groups and individuals across the world, I am steadfast in my belief that many of our systems, practices, cultures and organizations that drive health and health care as we know it today have forgotten the fundamental aspects to these truths, including how to genuinely live with the required “4 cornerstones” to happiness – a healthy MIND, BODY and SOUL create healthier BEINGS. I am convinced that our minds, bodies, souls and beings were designed to function like a wonderful interconnected symphony that creates happier and more content people. When one or more of these cornerstones are out of harmony, we fall short of reaching our full potential as a human being. In fact, we become unbalanced and incomplete.
My goal for this series is to play a part in reminding us that our MINDS, BODIES, SOULS and BEINGS each need our focus and full attention. Our bodies are temples, so let’s respect them. Our minds are instruments designed to play beautiful music, so let’s compose together and listen. Each of our souls are waiting to be filled with love, passion and positive energy so that we can share our complete beings with others. Are we ready tobe4HEALTH? I believe yes! How about you?