04 Apr / The Right Kind of Selfish
by Mike Tinney
Here’s a strange thought: as Americans, we’re not selfish enough. Sounds strange, right? I know all my international colleagues reading this will be all, “Whaaat? You guys are winning at selfish.” But hear me out.
How do we spend our time? We sell it to our employer, and they give us money and affirmation. We give it to our family, and they give us love and affirmation. We invest it in our hobbies/entertainment, and that gives us satisfaction and joy.
“It’s no wonder, then, that we’re headed for a diabetes health epidemic in the next 20 years that will rival the black plague.”
So what falls to the very bottom of many Americans’ “to-do” lists? Our health. Most of us, as many as 95% of us (if you believe some of the statics), put ourselves so far at the bottom of our to-do list, that we never get to it. We’re a society that gives most of our time to work, family and entertainment, and very little time to exercise, nutrition and physical activity. It’s no wonder, then, that we’re headed for a diabetes health epidemic in the next 20 years that will rival the black plague.
I think most people believe in the concept of “tomorrow.” Meaning, if you can’t get to yourself today, you can commit to tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, most of us repeat the process: Work, Family, Entertainment. Then, when self-health comes up it gets kicked to tomorrow again.
“No one seems to disagree with the statement that, “a healthier person tends to be happier and more productive.”
While we pay a price for this, individually, in terms of longevity and quality of life. The entities that employ us pay collective price for their employee base that can be quite high. The specific cost of an unhealthy employee is not the subject of this little rant of mine. It’s also a pretty murky field with a lot of research and a lot of informed challenges to said research. Having said that, no one seems to disagree with the statement that, “a healthier person tends to be happier and more productive.” It’s an opinion based statement, and I get that feelings are subjective, but no one’s disagreed with that sentiment yet. Do you?
HR to the Rescue?
We have a sentiment at FIX that suggests that the employer is the financial beneficiary of good employee health. That is not an ROI argument for wellness, it’s a statement that your employer pays you for your time, and the value of the time you contribute towards your employer’s business agendas is influenced by your happiness and productivity, which, in turn, is affected by your health. As a nation we are VERY unhealthy. For example, for every 100 employees, on average, you have the following habits/health conditions present in an organization:
36 of those are obese
12 have diabetes
3 have diabetes but don’t know it
33 have high blood pressure
17 have high cholesterol
95 fail to get enough exercise
62 have sleep issues
77 struggle with stress
9 suffer from depressive issues
“95% will opt toward something other than exercise as their hobby. They’ll opt for video games, netflix binging, board games, bowling, knitting, reading, carousing… the list goes on.”
How do we change behavior, though, when we already selflessly give most of our time to our employers and family. Can we really be blamed for giving our own hobbies and interests what’s left of our time? Maybe not. Some people have exercise as a hobby. By the report I referenced above, that’s maybe 5% of us. 95% will opt toward something other than exercise as their hobby. They’ll opt for video games, netflix binging, board games, bowling, knitting, reading, carousing… the list goes on.
Knowing that people prioritize their entertainment ahead of their health, we hacked the system a bit. We’ve been working on it going on 6 years now. We now have a game… that is enjoyable to play… that requires real world steps and exercise to play. That game triggers a dopamine release in the brain when you hit game milestones. Those milestones require steps and sweat equity to achieve. All of a sudden, people walk more to make progress in their game, and in doing so… get a little healthier.
Be a little more selfish when it comes to your own health. It’s good for you, and good for all the other people and groups you invest your time with.
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