How do we maintain good health?

It is natural for us all to want to be fit and healthy. Yet it seems that present-day society works so hard at its incessant search for wellness that it may be making many people feel worse. This is one conclusion a Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Arthur J. Barsky, has come to. He has spent the last four years cataloging and analyzing the excesses to which Americans will go in the name of fitness.

In his book Worried Sick: Our Troubled Quest for Wellness, Dr. Barsky writes: "Our society devotes enormous human and economic resources to studying the body, staying healthy, and treating disease. But in spite of our success, there is a pervasive cultural atmosphere of dis-ease. ... The ability to appreciate our good health, a secure feeling of physical well-being and confident vigor, eludes us." Worried Sick: Our Troubled Quest for Wellness (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1988), pp. 7–8 .

Certainly self-consciousness about health and constant fear and anxiety about the body do not contribute much to peace of mind. So where can we find a more secure sense of health? Perhaps the Psalmist of the Old Testament was looking in the right direction when he turned to God to quiet his fears. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?" he asked; "hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Ps. 42:11.

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January 23, 1989

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