September 10, 2012

Health is wealth

 In life we always have a choice. So choosing health or ill health is also our choice. I still remember very clearly that day in May 1979 when the World Health Day’s slogan was “Smoking or Health, the Choice is Your’s!” Several of my friends and I, chose that day to quit. Today, I know that choosing to quit that day was a decision I made also to look at health as wealth. Being in the midst of my job to assist our countries become healthy, and with the racing years that fly by, I realize more and more that this is unquestionably so. Most of us in the modern era think wealth is that golden or “green stuff” that is the basis of our purchasing power. And increasingly we are all caught up in this mirage of a belief that the amassing of these piles of wealth outside of our bodies is our purpose in life. We live to earn rather than earn to live.

Just as important however is the wealth that we build inside of ourselves. Not measured in rufiyaas, dollars, euros, or gold bullions, this wealth is measured in disability-less life years and spiritual wellbeing.  We build this wealth not with borrowings from banks which put us into debt and deficit and keep us eternally jittery in the tantalizing hopes of dividends that is at the mercy of the market, but from the abounding wealth reserve of the universe that is given to us with no collateral, yet with full trust and with the total assuredness of dividends beyond our wildest dreams. Some people call this an investment for wellbeing, or spirituality, rather than indulgence.

Moving towards this spiritual investment requires a drastic change in mindset – an awareness of the transient nature of our being – that we are mortals whose physical structure will indeed degrade as time takes its toll. Try as we may with creams, injectables, visits to the beautician and trichologist, or interventions of the cosmetic surgeon, we cannot keep the effects of this ageing at bay. The inexorable event of our transfer to the other side will finally happen. Being mindful of this fleeting nature of our external beauty, and the eventuality of our life course, can lead us to take care of our bodies with respect that this phenomenal structure deserves -- not because our attractive outside will provide the means to the pleasure of this moment, but because the health of our body will lead to the joy of the hereafter. Our purpose of disability-less life years has to be for investing in the bounty of the hereafter and not for harvesting the hedonism of today, for that will never satiate us – but like a drug, will keep us wanting ever more, and thus be disappointing ultimately.  Behaviors such as the indulgence of modern living bring destruction to our body because the very nature of these excesses is insalubrious. Eating and drinking excessively, and spending stressful days in deals and schemes, and late nights exploits cannot make one healthy. But the environment that engenders material wealth is such, and the pleasures that are the object of this external wealth is found in such settings, and so, seeking pleasures necessitates one to be in the lap of such indulgence.

In contrast, preventive behavior that nurtures our body is the investment that will build our internal wealth that can be used to derive that joy that is the essence of our inner self. In contrast is the wealth we amass outside of our body that fuels the path to the pleasure we seek that is the essence of our ego. 

While pleasure may be expensive to buy, joy is inexpensive, and maybe that is why we do not seek it so single-mindedly as we do pleasure, because we define better by what is more expensive. But, yes, simple (cheap) nutritious food, healthy mental attitude (low cost spiritual reflection and prayer) and regular exercise (cheap interventions such as regular walking or riding the bicycle) can keep the wealth of our body always accumulating. Youth will change to adulthood and then to old age – a universal inevitability. To wait for later would be folly, for by then too much physical degradation has happened. Waking up now to these inevitabilities of the future is urgent.  

No comments: