September 5, 2014
Wellness with Simplicity: Promoting ‘Pronounceable Health’
Originally published on the offical E-zine of the Corporate Health & Wellness Association Magazine
As medicine becomes more complex, and as some novelists become secular sages, heralding the arrival of their writings-made-real – in this world of quantum mechanics, mathematical biology, nanotechnology and the prophetic end of cancer, AIDS and diabetes there is nonetheless room for a generalist.
Or: As technology emerges to actualize the missives of our greatest physicists, their prose written in the poetic form of balance and the Greek symbols of differential calculus, we need not cede our most basic needs to the lab technician, the silent scientist or the pensive chemist.
Simplicity – in its own way, and for its own merits, expressed in plain English – remains the essence of treating our most common problems and our most discomforting (albeit temporary) ailments.
That brand of simplicity must be at the forefront of the conversation about corporate wellness because the alternatives, exciting as they are and seemingly approachable as they appear to be, are so esoteric that only the finest promoters of science can try to convert diagrams and equations into an intelligible story.
Indeed, it would be easier for Homer, in his blindness, to describe the creation of fire – to depict the degrees of heat and the hues of blue, orange and red, as well as the sparks and crackling flames – than attempt to explain the position of the electron, the subatomic bond of various fibers and the existence of artificial blood; the very fluid that fills his oral narrative, cascading from the swords and breastplates of warriors, armies and emperors.
We have, instead, pleas aplenty for us to improve our nutrition, enhance our fitness and extend our longevity. But, when urged to report how the agents of our rebirth work, the prophets expect us to accept these things on faith. My response, while congratulatory towards these pioneers and their plans to eradicate disease, is, well, simple: Read the ingredients!
That is, the emphasis on wellness must always possess a matter of simplicity; it must be reducible, like one of Newton’s laws or Einstein’s theories, to something we can easily recite, if not always easily understand. Otherwise, we risk reducing ourselves to the status of ‘passive patients,’ too intimidated to learn about our own health and too embarrassed to ask about the implications of the purported cures we are to consume.
I write these words as the ultimate advocate of science, as I am the spouse of a scientist. But I issue this statement as a champion of wellness in my own right, as the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, where I oversee an organization dedicated to alleviating a typical frustration: The itching sensation induced by pests, pets, allergies and unexpected events.
An Educated Workforce for a Healthy Workplace: Simplicity to Success
The point about simplicity is not an effort to advance an unrealistic form of reducible complexity that ignores science, nor is it a false belief in the inherent accessibility of otherwise sophisticated and arcane ideas. But, and this is where the language of the laboratory must be translated into the colloquial conversation of the boardroom and the chatter around the water cooler, there must be a way to summarize even the most important concepts into something simple. In that sense, the phrase “Because it’s good for you,” may often suffice; it can assuage the concerns of many individuals, provided the speaker is credible and believes what he says.
The lesson for executives seeking to promote corporate wellness, in addition to anyone who wants to persuade someone about the virtues of their argument or the legitimacy of their assertions, is, in the end, a lesson about communications: That inclusion, not intimidation, is the currency of a successful presentation; that what you say, and to whom you say it, based on how you say it – these are the variables responsible for the acceptance of a proposal, or its wholesale rejection by a workforce in its entirety.
If we follow this lesson, and if we articulate our beliefs with intelligence and intelligibility, then we can engage more people to take renewed interest in their health. If we invest the time to explain the value of various wellness plans, and if we do so with ear attuned to simplicity, then we can set a precedent other companies will follow.
The message may take many shapes, and have multiple translations, but it contains a universal theme. That theme echoes from the writings of Walt Whitman:
Simplicity is the glory of expression.