I’m a doctor. I love taking care of people. I do enjoy making them healthy, but what I really love is making them happy. Yes, that’s right. I love making people happy. I said it. I LOVE MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY!
You are thinking, of course, that this sounds heinously sappy, overly sentimental, or maybe even downright foolish. Doctors dole out pills, we order tests, we send patients to surgery and we cut things out. We prescribe medicines that give you side effects in the name of making you feel better. We treat diseases. Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong proponent of modern medicine. If you have high blood pressure, or diabetes, or heart disease, you need to get these things treated. And I’m as content as the next doc to use pills to help you do it.
We physicians, it turns out, are really good at ‘disease care.’ Sadly we’re just not that good at ‘health care.’ We are reactionary. We treat diseases after they develop. What we are not that good at (forgive me for saying it…) is promoting healthy living to prevent bad things from happening in the first place. And the system is just not set up to help us do it. We’re not trained to do it. We don’t have incentives to do it. We don’t have time to do it. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t well-intentioned.
Nor do I think that you can really rethink your health without rethinking your life.
Change has to come in the context of your own world. And here’s where the happiness part comes in… You have to feel good about your life to want to change. Happiness and health are intricately intertwined. Yes, you can have one without the other. But the best chance of success comes when you have both together. This is where the synergy happens. So perhaps you need to rethink your life. How do you spend your hours? What are your priorities? What is important to you? And with that we can think about getting you healthy.
If making people’s lives happier in fact leads to better health, well then I’ll be more than happy to prescribe it.