Teach to the Test: Well-Being Is Worth Studying, Isn't It?

By Marilynn Preston

February 26, 2019 5 min read

Our president is obsessed with his wall. I can relate to that. I really, really want a national well-being test. It would save the country millions — trillions — in health care costs. It would educate and motivate people to eat smart, exercise with ease and pursue meaningful relationships so they end up needing fewer doctor visits, taking fewer meds. It would make me happy.

Here's my thinking. If you want to drive a car in America, you have to pass an official government-mandated driving test. Every state has one. No one complains. We all know that driving a car is a big responsibility, and we take crashing seriously.

So we prepare for the test. We study the rules, memorize the signs and practice how to steer, turn, park and pass, none of it done while texting. It takes hours and hours to learn to drive safely, but we do it because if we don't pass the test, we can't drive a car.

So let's require everyone with health insurance to pass a national well-being test. Living a happy, balanced, safe and satisfying life is a big responsibility. There ought to be a written and practical exam required — just like the driver's test — that shows you've studied, you've practiced and you know what you're doing when it comes to your well-being. For example:

— You've studied the differences between proteins, carbs and fats and learned that your body needs protein, not doughnuts, when it wakes up in the morning.

— You've learned how to fit 30 minutes of physical activity into your day, and you welcome it.

— You've demonstrated a deep understanding of the value of sleep, human interaction and disconnecting from technology as much as possible.

If you fail the national well-being test, you can take it again. Up to 150 times. Meanwhile, you still get the insurance coverage ... but you have to pay a higher premium.

I'm not saying it would be a hard exam. Oh, no! I want everyone to pass. It would include a mix of questions along the lines of:

— Name and demonstrate three ways to prepare kale.

— Compare and contrast sitting desks versus standing desks.

— List five reasons why eating processed food makes you sick, fat and addicted to eating more processed food.

I know there will be resistance to this. Who needs to know this stuff? Well, do you think people were born wanting to know how many feet you have to stay behind the car in front of you when traveling 60 mph?

A national well-being test would be based on the solid research showing that the more informed consumers of medical care are, the healthier they are and the better care they take of themselves.

Because what we really need to lower the cost and improve the quality of health care in this country are smarter, better-informed patients.

Studying to pass your national well-being test will teach you how to dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

It will empower you to team up with your doctor and become a partner in your health care, rather than a clueless or confused recipient of medical advice dispensed in the typical 5.2-minute visit.

And having to study for the national well-being test might help put a dent in the horrifying opioid epidemic because on the way to a passing grade, you'll learn about your endocannabinoid system and the role that cannabis can play in alleviating pain and reducing anxiety.

The national well-being test will even teach you to ask questions about the nasty side effects of well-advertised drugs and discuss which alternative therapies — acupuncture, breath work, mindfulness training, nutritional adjustments — might be just as effective.

Teach to the test, I say, and health care costs will go down and outcomes will improve. Right now, it's just a dream of mine. There is no national well-being test, and requiring one is about as likely as convincing Trump to build his wall out of Legos.

So that leaves the ball back in your court. And that's the real test. It's your responsibility to study, to learn, to thrive.

Ignorance about how to stay strong and healthy isn't bliss; it's expensive, and it's heartbreaking.

Because in your lifetime, you only get the one car.


"This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don't wait." — Natalie Goldberg

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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