Time Magazine’s choice for its 2011 Person of the Year took me by surprise. In a relatively rare turn of events, the honoree was not an individual but an entire category of persons: The Protestor.
What started as an apparently isolated event involving a single protestor in Tunisia soon found expression in different ways and for various reasons in Egypt, Libya, Greece – even here in the United States. In the end the world saw long-entrenched governments tossed out, conventional wisdom challenged, and new if uncertain democracies taking root in the most unlikely places.
I realize it’s only February, but this got me to thinking about who the next Person – or Persons – of the Year should be. My nominee: The Health Care Reformer.
I’m not talking about politicians and high-powered lobbyists here but Everyday Joes like you and me – people who are beginning to learn that maintaining our health isn’t just about what we eat, how often we exercise, or even what genes we were born with. It has to do with what and how we think.
The way I see it, we’re the ones that are keeping the health care reform movement, well… moving.
But it’s not just “us.” These days there are any number of physicians, psychologists, and medical researchers – all health care reformers in their own right – who are noticing the importance of thought when it comes to health.
Take, for instance, Ted Kaptchuk. He and his pals at Harvard Medical School have been asked to explain why placebos – those inert pills and procedures used to mimic conventional medical treatment – seem to work just as effectively, if not better, than the real thing. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, expectation – that is, our thought – plays a key role. Often Dr. Kaptchuk has found that placebos work even when patients know they have no intrinsic value.
You’ve also got people like Lissa Rankin. This physician cum mind-body expert recently gave a TED talk that began with this provocative question: “What if I told you that caring for your body was the least important part of your health?” Either you’d say she’s nuts… or that maybe she’s on to something. When you listen to her entire talk, you learn that Dr. Rankin is not suggesting that anyone adopt an unhealthy lifestyle. Only one that takes into account that there’s a direct correlation between consciousness and health.
It’s people like Dr. Rankin and Dr. Kaptchuk – people like you and me – who are at the forefront of this remarkable, ongoing health care reform movement. Even if we don’t make it to the cover of Time Magazine, I have no doubt that the world will continue to benefit from the discoveries we’re making.