Work and health. These two topics are this century's biggest concerns. In fact, they're so interrelated these days that you'd be hard pressed to find people who work without concern for their health. And I'm not just talking about physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. Along with increasing rates of obesity, this country is also experiencing increasing rates of depression, apathy, and detachment from family, friends, and life itself. Suicides are at an all time high, violence is in an upsurge (if you watch the news, anyway), and people are becoming more self absorbed and concerned for their welfare than they are for their children.
What is the reason this is happening? It is the relationship we have in this country between our health and our work behaviors. Both systems have foundations in the old 19th century industrial work ethic and mentality. What we seem to miss is that by keeping the assumptions and beliefs of our forefathers in regards to work and health, we will not be able to change either the health care system or how we work. What are these assumptions and beliefs?
Here is an incomplete list:
-working 9 to 5(or 6) Monday through Friday for 40 years or more is how we always work, despite the changes in our world concerning doing work and business via new technology
-adhering to an agrarian educational system (children go to school from fall to spring with summers off)
-working longer hours produces better results than working shorter hours
-using managers as vehicles to control the mass of employees who are obviously not competent, need ideas and plans and behaviors given to them from above, have no lives of their own, and are not trustworthy
-physical health can be separated from mental and emotional health
-time equals money
-high levels of stress do not contribute to health problems
-work is more important than anything else in life which includes family, friends, hobbies, passions, creativity, imagination, rest, sleep, health, nature, and sports
-our health care system is the best one in the world
-our health care system really is a health care system rather than a pill and repair location for the body
These assumptions are basic to how our work and health behaviors work. Work in America is the number one activity we all engage in. Despite our complaints about wanting a life or being healthy or being free, work is what we all do. Work is the identity of America. Not freedom, not liberty, not basic civil rights, not prosperity or wealth. Work is how we all learn about each other and despite this, we all complain about work because none of us really want to do it. This creates a conflict between our emotions and our behaviors. Our behaviors stem from our flawed beliefs and assumptions about what work does for us, while our emotions dictate what we would really like. And despite the current saying that emotions dictate behavior, it's actually the other way around. Our behaviors dictate our emotions.
Think about this. Anytime you want to go to do something, whether it's watching a movie, hanging out with friends or family, playing with your dog, or taking a nice and casual walk in the middle of the day, we can't. The thing we want to do the most is relegated to secondary importance because work is considered priority. Who's priority? The company you either work for or your own business. And although we have tons and tons of time management courses and gurus, this way of living is getting worse and worse.
We've all read or heard that we must take time for the most important things in our lives, with health being number one. We can see that this will not work if we continue to believe the above beliefs and assumptions. We must replace these beliefs/assumptions with more empowering ones that will allow us to easily live lives of balance.
Which leads to a question about health. What is health? Is it being able to move like you did when you were 20? Or being able to creatively come up enough ideas to change the world? Or is it being able to enjoy the life you've been given each and every single day? The answer is that health encompasses our entire life. It means being able to live a life where you can be creative, in control, and minimize physical, mental, and emotional suffering until the very end of your life. It means following your heart's desires and still retain the maturity and wisdom gained from past experience. It means being able to keep up with your kids when at the park. It means achieving the dreams you've always wanted to achieve. Health is the totality of life. Without health in any given moment, your life is not up to its potential.
Our work behaviors decrease our health potential. By believing work only gets done between certain hours on particular days or in particular ways, our health suffers. By believing that we should work for a company that says it has your best interests at work but really doesn't is a fool's task. Believing our work or health care system helps make America superior in the global environment is false, but it certainly produces illness and disease here in this great country. So, what are the new empowering beliefs and assumptions we "should" have?
-Work to get work done only when it needs to be done. If it's not an emergency or a real priority relegate it according to your own to do list for the day
-The results of work should be productive and that's all it should be based on, not the time you needed to get it done.
-Health is life. Without following our dreams or passions, being creative, getting enough sleep or rest, or doing activities we really enjoy, life can be an empty shell filled only with work.
-Work is fourth to family, friends, and passions
-Trust. Trust in yourself and trust others. If you are an adult, you should realize that other adults can be just as trustworthy as you when work needs to get done
-Play should be 80% of your life while work should be 20%
-Consistently repeat these beliefs to yourself each day in order to reap lifetime benefits
This is how health can be increased work behaviors changed. This is not easy, but it is a simple way of changing the way we do business and live our lives. If you have any questions, comments please let me know at my e-mail address. Thanks.