• Bill Brandenburg, MD

Health is Contagious

The environment we live in constantly shapes all of us. As part of this environment, our actions shape the lives of others as well. No matter how isolated we may feel, what we do every day, effects the lives of everyone else around us.


Happiness, sadness, jealousy, and other emotions are all contagious. Selfless acts lead to more selfless acts while aggression is often met with more aggression. Just like infectious diseases can be contagious, chronic problems like obesity, diabetes type 2, depression, and anxiety can all spread from person to person as well.


Put simply, if you are overweight the people around you are more likely to struggle with weight problems. If the people you live with exercise, you are much more likely to exercise as well. If everyone around you is depressed, your chances of being depressed go up.


What I see in 2021 is a growing culture of unhealthiness. Chronic diseases, sedentary lifestyles, and metabolic problems affect most Americans. Moreover, selfishness and greed appear to be at an all time high. Most people expect things from society. Few people ask themselves what they might have to offer for the good of others and the environment. But when times are hard, society needs selfless acts and selfless people more than ever.


The irony is that doing things for other people and the environment are what generates true happiness. Being happy leads to active, engaged, and healthy individuals. Selfless acts, through some counterintuitive cycle, actually lead to greater health than acts meant only for self- benefit.


So, building a healthy environment, surrounded by those with altruistic intentions, and focused on the good of the whole, may be what we all need.


If we want to build healthy people, the first step is building healthy environments.

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