National Academy of Medicine

Community, Movements, and Spread: It's the Process That Matters

By Pritpal S. Tamber
December 09, 2014 | Commentary

Rather than rest on the seventh day, God might have put a little thought into future proofing the design of human beings. As societies age, the weaknesses in our design, combined with changing lifestyles, mean that sickness has become the normal human experience. Against that backdrop, staying healthy—defined as the absence of biological deficits—becomes an unattainable goal. The good news is that people don’t actually want to be healthy, i.e., they won’t describe health as their ultimate goal. They want to lead satisfying lives, with definitions of satisfaction being as individual as they are. The absence—or control of—biological deficits is only part of that definition. Other parts encompass things like physical functioning, fulfillment from daily activities, financial competence, emotional security, a sense of community, nourishing personal relationships, and meaning.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.