Prosperity as a dimension of doing affecting health and well-being

Prosperity as a dimension of doing affecting health and well-being

Guest blogger:  Terry Krupa

To break the monotony of driving a long stretch of unvaried highway I ask my husband Martin what he’s thinking about. “I’m dreaming what we would do if we won the lottery”, he responds. He doesn’t want to win the really big prize – his magic amount is $230,000. He has it all planned. We can “blow” a small amount on anything we want, but the majority will go to easing the burden we feel around ensuring our long-term financial well-being, particularly now that we are approaching our retirement years. Some of the money, he says, will go to ease this same burden our children will inevitably feel. “But,” he says, “not so much that they won’t learn how to count on themselves”. Such good thoughts I think…. If only we ever bought a lottery ticket.

As someone who has made a career out of understanding the health and well-being we experience through what we do, I’m always amazed at how much people dislike focusing on the potential monetary benefits experienced through activity. Maybe it’s because definitions of “prosperity” include both positive ideals of thriving financially, with the not so ideal notions of opulence and affluence. Regardless, all of the evidence we have now highlights that income and other such economic benefits of doing provide people with access to food, good living conditions, safety, clothing, transportation, health services and products, recreation, education, social connections, social status, and so on…. every one important to health and well-being.

We all instinctively know that the link between what we do, personal prosperity and health and well-being is by no means simple. We know, for example, that many illegal activities can lead to considerable monetary gain, but they come with risks that are hardly linked to well-being. We know that many forms of work are essential to the prosperity of families, communities and society, but because they are unpaid, can leave the individuals doing these activities to rely on others and ultimately vulnerable to economic insecurity. Martin knows that a financial windfall, without some grounding form of work activity will probably be harmful to the well-being of our children, impacting their ability to fend for themselves.

When I think back to the musings of our driving conversation, I think that for Martin and I, the notion of “prosperity” through doing has had three important impacts:

  • First, the prosperity we have gained from what we do, has given us the means to participate in and flourish through life’s opportunities.
  • Second, it has given us a sense of control, a buffer from life’s possible adversities.
  • Third, it always leads to a lively conversation in a uninteresting situation

We are interested in hearing what you think about this idea of “prosperity through doing”. Here are just a few questions to start the dialogue:

Is “prosperity” the best term to use to capture this idea of economic well-being through doing?

When does prosperity through doing lead to health and well-being and how might it compromise health and well-being?

Are there cultural factors that need to be considered?

Join the conversation and add your ideas! (post comments below)