Good Health Is True Freedom

Good Health Is True Freedom

Guest Column

By David Shapiro |

This is the season of our freedom.

Dr. David Shapiro Atlanta Jewish Times
Dr. David Shapiro

To truly be free, we need to be healthy, both spiritually and physically. If physical health is lost, spiritual health can suffer. A person who has lost health spends all time and resources trying to regain it, limiting the ability to focus on spirituality or anything else.

A person’s true freedom can be compromised during the search for health solutions because it can become an all-encompassing endeavor. To maintain our freedom, we need to take stock of our physical well-being before our health declines and plan for our future good health, happiness and continued freedom.

We all know the importance of setting goals, but most of us don’t have clear and measurable health goals. Lewis Carroll said, “Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you are going.” How important are goals, and how can we make them most effective?

A fascinating study was conducted on the 1979 Harvard M.B.A. program in which graduate students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” The result: 3 percent had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals that weren’t in writing; and 84 percent had no goals. Ten years later, the same group was interviewed again, and the results were absolutely astounding:

  • The 13 percent of the class members who had goals but did not write them down were earning twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals.
  • The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class.

This study pertains to financial well-being; if we apply the same principle to our health, we can be more confident in our ability to enjoy all the fruits of our labors well into old age.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our health, people rarely set goals. We should set and write down health goals for the short term and long term (20 to 30 years). What do we want our lives to be like, and what are the steps we need to take to get there?

Health goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Our sages said the major responsibility for personal health falls on the individual, not our physicians. To take care of one’s health is a commandment, and the sages found this mandate implied in the words “Take heed to thyself and take care of your lives” (Deuteronomy 4:9) and “be extremely protective of your lives” (Deuteronomy 4:15).

In the Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Deot 4:1), Maimonides comments on the individual responsibility for health:Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of G-d — for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator if he is ill — therefore he must avoid that which harms the body and accustom himself to that which is helpful and helps the body become stronger.”

During the period when Maimonides served as the royal physician to the sultan of Egypt, the sultan never became ill. One day he asked, “How do I know that you are an expert physician, since during the period that you have been here, I have never been ill, and you have not had the opportunity to test your skills?” Maimonides replied, “The ability of a physician to prevent illness is a greater proof of his skill than the ability to cure someone who is already ill.”

We are all spiritual beings engaged in the physical experience of life. We all want to be free to make choices, enjoy our families and friends, contribute to our communities, and spiritually connect to our source. We can maintain this freedom by taking care of our physical body, which our soul inhabits. If health is key to true freedom, let’s look at the different levels to reach for the highest:

  • The lowest level of health is when you have a health issue and ignore it.
  • The next level is treating the symptom and not the cause.
  • Next is treating the cause of a disease once you have it.
  • The next level is prevention.
  • The highest level is Dorland’s Medical Dictionary’s definition of health. It is a state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Get on a healthy track now for you, your family and your community. And celebrate freedom in its truest sense. Have a happy and kosher Passover.

Dr. David Shapiro, certified at the highest level in chiropractic biophysics, is the founder and chief wellness officer of Complete Spine Solutions in Tucker.

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