In my recent readings of little known individuals who became historical pillars, I marked another one’s story to share with you. It’s interesting to note how Dr. George W. Calver’s early 1900’s philosophical shift from a traditional “fix sickness” to a “cultivate wellness” approach is what many of our recommended health models are emphasizing today.
By 1928 members of the United States Congress were dying at an average of 20 per year. Appalled by this trend, our representatives passed a resolution establishing the Office of the Attending Physician. Dr. Calver was the first doctor to be appointed. Serving for 38 years, he made a preventative approach to wellness one of his most memorable contributions.
He became known for his “9 Commandments of Good Health”, which he widely posted on placards throughout Capitol Hill. These included “eat wisely, drink plentifully (of water!), play enthusiastically and relax completely, go out at night twice a week at most.” To summarize these he was quoted in the press as saying, “Don’t let yourself get off balance… Give 5% of your time to being well. You won’t have to give 100% getting over being sick.”
Prevention is still a significant and much debated issue in healthcare. The Prevention Institute (PI) in California encourages policy makers to increase public spending in this area. Many of the Institute’s recommended steps to better health align with those of Dr. Calver from almost a century ago – healthy eating, good exercise and play, etc.
Yet, a key component of achieving prevention and creating balance is missing – namely, spirituality – from both Calver and PI. Just what is the best way to give that 5% (an hour or so a day) to being well? Many have found adding spirituality to their daily routine helps to maintain poise, focus and greater health.
For me, a daily Bible lesson continues to be my answer and often recourse for an expanding, satisfying lifestyle. This morning one Bible passage of the several I read was, “Therefore, get your mind ready for action, being self disciplined…” Though first written 2,000 years ago, it resonates with Dr. Calver’s 20th century and our 21st century approach to a happy, healthy life.