In the last article, we looked at the first Proactive approach in the hierarchy of health – Protection. Instead of reacting to problems as they arise, in protection we proactively take steps to prevent problems in the future. The benefit to this approach is that we have fewer costly and inconvenient health crises AND generally our overall health (and perhaps other problems) will improve at the same time.
The limitations of protection are that it is impossible to prevent any and all potential problems from arising (if you want to make God laugh, tell him/her your plans!) and protection does nothing to take you to the next level of health and well-being (it just keeps you where you are).
This leads us to the final rung on the hierarchy of health – Optimization. Optimization is where the healthiest and most vital people spend the majority of their time, focus and energy.
In Optimization, the focus is not on fixing problems (reactive), or even on preventing future problems (protection). The focus of optimization is on increasing our level of health and becoming more resourceful over time. Instead of focusing on what we DON’T want (problems), we shift towards seeking what we DO want (health, energy, vitality, resilience, performance, etc.).
Why does the approach of Optimization produce the healthiest people on the planet? It does so because it is the only approach that has actual health as the outcome!
If you take a pill and your headache goes away, it does not mean you are healthier – in fact you are probably now a bit less healthy. If you correct a structural abnormality and your back pain goes away you are probably somewhat healthier, but for how long? Regular self care to prevent a relapse of pain or disease likely improves overall health levels, but if you are only focused on whether the problem comes back or not, how do you know?
Optimization has the goal of moving forward and getting better. A maestro doesn’t ask ‘how little do I have to practice in order to stay as good as I already am?’ A maestro asks, ‘how can I refine things so that I am a little better today than I was yesterday?’ I have a friend who is a retired concert musician and he told me that even as his physical skills have diminished with age, his discernment and enjoyment of the same music continues to improve.
People who approach health from the perspective of Optimization are maestros of their health. Success is based on vitality, high energy levels, clear headedness, mental and emotional fulfillment, physical and mental performance, the ability to learn and carry out new things, and having the energy and ability to contribute to others.
It is not that these individuals never have health problems that need to be treated in a reactive way (although they tend to happen much less in these folks). What you do see is that they learn from these crises and often come out the other side better. Optimizers also tend to miraculously get better as they age.
Many of you know that I receive the care I deliver at Nexus Chiropractic on a regular basis from my personal chiropractors in Gatineau. Even though my back hurts sometimes, I don’t go there to get my back pain fixed. I also don’t go there to prevent any future problems. I take the time out of my crazy schedule to make the 5-hour return trip because I literally see each entrainment as an opportunity to improve the efficiency of my nervous system and thereby increasing my level of health. That is what our Optimization programs at Nexus are designed to produce.
The next article will be the final installment in this series. We will summarize the Hierarchy of Health and give you some practical ways to evaluate what outcomes you desire for your health and determine what changes you can make to get there.