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Healthy, Happy … and Disappearing Fast

posted by Pilar Gerasimo May 3, 2016 2 Comments

How many healthy, happy people are left here in the U.S.? It’s a freaky question with an equally freaky answer: Not many.

As the chart indicates, if you are healthy and flourishing — physically, mentally and emotionally — you are, statistically speaking, very much in the minority. You represent less than 20 percent of the population, and arguably less than 3 percent (see below). Eek!

You can get more of the official facts and statistics in my feature “Being Healthy Is a Revolutionary Act: Renegade Perspectives for Thriving in a Mixed Up World.” But the main thing you gotta know is that if you are not one of the lucky few represented by those happy-healthy green figures, you needn’t beat yourself up about it.

Because, guess what? There’s a reason you’re struggling: You’ve got an entire culture working against you — one that has successfully undermined the well-being of fully 80 percent of the U.S. adult population to date. And (if recent data from the Mayo Clinic is correct) our social norms are on course to undermine the health of more like 97 percent of us in the not so distant future.

I know: Whaa?! That sounds crazy. And it is.

But the data is real: A study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that less than three percent of U.S. adults are observing even four key health habits (eating even a marginally healthy diet; getting a reasonable amount of exercise; not smoking; and maintaining a healthy body composition).

That study data doesn’t even touch on several other equally huge health factors like stress, sleep and social connection. (For more on the findings, see this summary by Science Daily News.) Which likely means fewer than 1 percent of U.S. adults is actually observing all (or even most) of the essential habits required for ongoing health and happiness.

Fortunately, it’s not too late for you to break ranks with the unhealthy majority. That’s what the healthy revolution is all about: Cultivating Healthy Deviance (hey, I’m hashtagging that: #healthydeviance) from unhealthy norms.

I’m currently working on a book about how one can go about doing that on a daily basis. Meanwhile, just wanted to share this infographic-driven insight and let you mull on it a bit.

If the data boggles your mind as much as it does mine, please feel free share the chart to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter (handy social-sharing tools at left).

But before you do, I invite you to imagine — for just a moment — what it might be like to live in a world where the ratios of healthy and not-so-healthy people were reversed.

What if 80 percent (or better yet, 97 percent, or even 99 percent!) of us were thriving, flourishing, enjoying a surplus of energy, vitality and resilience?

Imagine the difference that would make in our families and communities, schools, places of work. Imagine how it might improve our healthcare system, to say nothing of social justice, our environment and economy. Oh my goodness, it gives me goosebumps.

Wanna hear more about this (and other stuff)? Check out my podcast with Dallas Hartwig, The Living Experiment. Or listen in to the recent interview I did with Stupid Easy Paleo’s Steph Gaudreau on her terrific Harder to Kill Radio podcast.

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John February 3, 2015 at 2:38 am

The graphic is vindication of what I’ve thought for awhile; but with so much information out there via newsprint, web, etc (not to mention the constant reminders in grocery stores and the steam of health clubs on every other corner it seams.) how does this happen? My immediate frustration is with suburbia which have time and money and still do t exercise and eat like they should. How does this happen? Why do I feel vilified for working out at 5:00 am (and sometime 2 a days)? Ps…I’m not a triathlete but am a 49 yr old professional who just wants to feel good and look good!

The (Slow) Way of The Healthy Deviant - Pilar Gerasimo May 30, 2017 at 11:25 pm

[…] post I wrote last year (“Healthy, Happy … and Disappearing Fast“) about just how statistically unusual healthy people have […]


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