In the past few years I have become increasingly interested in the topic of lifestyle, particularly as it relates to our family. For years we have sought out living in a way that provides some degree of stability, calm, and happiness. Unfortunately, year after year we seem to come up short, and often for reasons that seemingly are out of our control.
Being a psychologist I find the topic of lifestyle intriguing! I have thought a lot about the degree to which our way of life is self-induced, versus reacting to a very unstable and challenging environment. I know it’s both, but the more I study lifestyle in the US, the more I am convinced that much of our efforts to live well are in response to less than optimal conditions. And sadly, the data support this stance as well.
Last year the Institute of Medicine came out with a report titled US Health in International Perspective that should have made headline news across the US, but likely was left on the cutting-room floor to make room for the latest reality-star debacle. The report compared the US to 16 comparable peer countries and found that for over three decades Americans have been dying at younger ages than people in almost all other high-income countries. And the fact that we spend more money on healthcare than any other country in the world, makes these findings all the more disturbing!
We in the US have some of the highest rates of obesity, drug abuse, alcohol-related traffic fatalities, and acts of violence involving firearms. We have significant problems with poverty, public education, and healthcare. We are a fast-moving, techno-infused, stressed-out country that has been losing its way in the world for a long time now.
I know we play a role in the craziness of our life, by moving frequently, switching schools for our son, and traveling across country every quarter for medical care. At the same time, we do these things because ignoring them would be more painful.
No one likes bad news, I get that. If as a country we remain asleep at the wheel, ignore the data, and do not make significant changes in how we live our lives, then I fear our future will not be kind to us. Please, read this report and pass it on!