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Dynamic Chiropractic – October 19, 1998, Vol. 16, Issue 22

Stress, the Mind and the Body

By J. P. Pawliw-Fry
Doctor, How is Your Health?

As you may have discovered, the challenges of building a successful practice and maintaining your health and happiness are not so easy. Some interesting research has revealed that professional success often comes at a price, and we often pay through the loss of our own health, happiness and personal relationships.

Maintaining a Balance

A five-year study by Dr. Kenneth Pelletier of the University of California School of Medicine found that maintaining a balance between success in business or a profession and having a healthy, well-rounded life is surprisingly hard to achieve. Just seven percent of successful people are leading the exemplary "good life" that success promises. This study concluded that 93 percent of those studied sacrificed important aspects of their lives to get to the top. A vast majority suffered from ill health and broken personal and family relationships, making it difficult if not impossible for them to enjoy their business or professional success, let alone maintain levels of productivity. Sound familiar?

Chiropractic Casualties

We've all seen this firsthand in ourselves and in our colleagues. I once worked with a chiropractor who built an enormous practice, amassing wealth, expensive houses, and a Mercedes. Surrounded by it all, the stress took its toll. He became very sick and was forced to sell his practice at an early age because of stress-related disease. This was not a man living with balance and certainly not a good role model for his patients on how to live a healthy life. Yet this is a common story, told by 93 percent of those in Pelletier's study.

I also had friends who have suffered significant health problems since graduating from chiropractic college. They spent the first couple years in "survival" mode working day and night building a practice and beginning their life outside of school. Now they are trying to find a balance between raising kids and "raising" their practice or being killed by huge overheads, a challenge at the best of times.

Fated to Be among the 93 Percent?

What are you doing about this challenging, stressful life? How are you dealing with the frustrations you face? What are you doing to maintain your health?

Born into Greatness?

Interestingly, the seven percent in Pelletier's study were not born into greatness. As he explains: "It is easy to distance ourselves from these same challenges by reasoning these individuals are somehow exceptional and therefore unlike us. But these are real stories about real people who have struggled with and triumphed over life's travails. Despite adversity they listened to their inner voices and developed the skills to turn their vision into realities."

Did These Individuals follow Rigorous Exercise Programs or Eat The "Right" Food?

Significantly, those seven percent who succeeded and stayed healthy did not religiously exercise or necessarily maintain a strict diet. While there is good reason to adopt these health promoting practices, it appears exercise and a good diet alone are not enough to combat the persistent demands of building a practice and maintaining health, happiness and personal relationships. Research suggests that while the effects of exercise are impressive, exercising one hour a day every other day (if you are disciplined) are peripheral when compared to the numerous challenging moments and demands faced during a long work week.

What Can Be Done: the "Acquired" Qualities

It appears that it is a individual's response to work and life based on a specific set of qualities, not old health nostrums, that has the greatest influence on health and effectiveness. How we view situations and the degree to which we cultivate important internal and external resources create the required attitudes and inner resources needed to manage difficulties on a day-to-day basis. Are you aware of your moods, worries and thoughts? Are you able to step back from your thoughts and see them as something separate and discrete from yourself? Do you feel as if you are in control of your life, or do you feel like there is something outside yourself that rules the success of your practice or your personal life? Do you feel connected to your spouse, partner, family or greater community? How committed are you to the things you love to do? To chiropractic? To your health? Do you take time to just stop and reflect? And finally, what is your driving force, your vision or purpose for how you want to build your practice or live your life?

The healthy, high-achieving seven percent had very different answers to these questions compared to the 93 percent. Where do you fit? Take a moment to ask yourselves these important questions. Take the time to investigate how you can look at your challenges (and joys, for that matter) in a new way. It is never too late to bring some awareness to your path. In fact, it is crucial if you want to not only build the practice and life of your dreams but also live to enjoy it.

As Albert Schweitzer said :
"In my opinion it is man's temperament that decides his fate. There is no other kind of fate. I do not believe therefore that he must necessarily continue to follow the path which leads downwards; he may turn about before he arrives at the very end."

J.P. Pawliw-Fry, DC
Guelph, Ontario


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