I’ll Bet You Can!

There are two things you cannot hide from – finances and health, and the parallels between the two are startling. If you ask someone what their ideal health looks like, they may answer “free of disease” or “I’ll live to be 100”. If you ask someone what their ultimate financial goal is, they may answer “I never want to worry about spending money or budgeting” or “I can buy anything I want”. Now I’m left to wonder if the rich don’t worry or have more freedom? Likewise, if you are free of disease, does it follow that there is no reason for concern over your future health?

Are you a victim of “retail therapy” – that is, purchasing luxury items to make yourself feel happy? You feel elated or comforted when you buy the object of your desire, but when the credit card bill arrives, you may feel a sense of guilt or loss. It feels like you gambled for the excitement, then lost. If you feel poorly about your financial situation, you may spend repeatedly to relieve the financial stress. That can be equated to stress-eating – eating unhealthy foods because of stress, but then stressing over poor eating habits.

We know that folks gamble for enjoyment – you know, for the thrill of the chase. But, that adrenalin rush can lead to more gambling. What comes next in some cases, is a loss of control, the insatiable desire to take risks, and the belief that the big payout is just the next pull, roll, or deal away. Do we not behave similarly with our health? Are we riding the wave of mediocrity, in denial, leaving matters to fate, or betting that tomorrow will be better? Were you dealt a “bad hand”, and feel there is nothing you can do to change it?

Industries are banking on the ill health of Americans. Who is getting rich, while our health continues its downward spiral? Let’s name a few: the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare corporations, gaming corporations, the tobacco and alcohol corporations, and those who sell just about anything that will make us look better, feel better, and perhaps make our lives seem easier – supplements, self-help books, DVDs, weight-loss gimmicks, body altering procedures, clothing and accessories, cosmetics, and processed foods. I could go on, but you get the picture. Every American relies on “things” to feel better. But, what big win are we expecting while we are exercising our unbridled passion for spending? …or overeating? …or smoking? …or drinking? Yep, brain science at work again.

The rich do not get rich by squandering or placing their money in safe places. They research current trends, collaborate with advisors and experts in the financial field, then set financial goals. Investing intelligently can result in great payoffs, but it is not without risk. The difference is that educated analysis of the current markets, risk-benefit ratios, etc. dominate the thought processes of those who succeed financially.

Is the fate of our healthcare system one of those things that was left to chance? How can we feel less victimized by it? Well, taking bets on your health is not the answer, because we are not all dealt a Royal Flush. Likewise, over-spending and creating financial risk will not keep creditors away. The better choice is to “stack the deck” with knowledge, experienced advice, and proactive practices like budgeting for a “thing” or planning a strategy for healthy eating.

There is really no such thing as a “sure thing”, but my money is on preventive and restorative medicine every time. I would rather not wait for that Wild card, and definitely don’t want to wait until the chips are down. Forget snake eyes, and look deeply into your eyes. Make a promise to yourself to focus on your future.

Blackjack is fun, but unlike the cards, people cannot stay forever 21. Given that many couples start their families as late as their 40s, how does that change the way we think about our health and functional abilities as we age? What will it be like to be sending your child off to college at the age your own father was considering his retirement? What will it feel like to bear a child at the same age your own mother was finished rearing hers? Will your financial health be better or did you enjoy those childless years to an extreme? What functional abilities do you want to have when you are 80? Will you be able to run on a soccer field, swim in the ocean, run through a crowded airport, or carry your own grandchildren? Will you be able to handle your children and your own aging parents simultaneously?

So many decisions, distractions, and demands in life…but what would it look like if we placed more value on our health – on the body that carries us into old age, and on the mind that directs that body? It seems that just about everybody fears being placed in a nursing home or even assisted living. We fear loss of independence, but at the same time, wonder if healthier eating, more restorative sleep, and daily exercise would be worth the effort. What if?… Roll the dice, spin the wheel, toss out your hard-earned dollars on a game, if you must, but let the gambling stop there. The future of your health needs you, and you are worthy of a long-term investment. Think about self-insuring your future by maximizing your abilities, and you up the ante for remaining physically, mentally, and emotionally strong throughout your lifespan.