What We Spend Money on Says a lot About Who We Are

I just read Michael Pollan’s article in the NY Times, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch. One thing that fascinates me is the observation is that we are watching more cooking shows than ever but we also cook less than ever before. Cooking has become this fantasy for many people even as they rush through the drive through to pick up something to eat.

In the United States we do this kind of thing a lot. We are obsessed with health. On the other hand, we would rather eat cheap food than healthy food. We have no time for relaxation. We complain that we have little time or money for preventative health care that we know we should have.

I was listening to the Ed Schultz Show the other day when Norman Goldman was filling in. Goldman opened a show with a spiel about how what we spend money on says a lot about who we are. If we spend a significant portion of our income on alcohol, we are probably an alcoholic. If we spend it on heroine, we are probably a heroine addict. Taking it farther, there are those will always find a way to spend their money on really nice clothing, at the expense of other things. For me, I tend to be addicted to reading so I’d probably spend my money there.

We are not, by and large, willing to spend our tax dollars on a system that offers health care for everyone. We are also not, by and large, willing to spend money on healthy, locally grown food. We are even reluctant to part with money for those treatments that can help us with our preventative health care, like acupuncture or massage, if our insurance doesn’t pay for it.

Yet, we are obsessed with health. We think we can avoid sickness. We take medications that do nothing more than suppress symptoms so that we don’t need to change our lifestyle. The medications are stopped if the insurance company stops paying for them. There is a sense within the culture of the US that health isn’t something we should spend money on.

When we see those people who are chronically ill, there are judgments about smoking or diet. There is a sense that these people must have done something wrong to get that sick. They didn’t eat right or exercise enough. Never mind that we do the same things. There is a sense that if we blame them and make the different from ourselves, we will never get sick. At the same time we won’t shell out the money required to keep ourselves healthy.

What are we willing to spend money on? Those places we spend are money are the things we are giving priorities to. Those are things that are important to us. No two of us will have the same spending priorities. If we, as we like to think, really want to stay healthy and be healthy, then we need to start figuring out why we avoid spending money on those things designed to do just that.

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

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