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What does living safely mean? Well, it means different things to different people. To some, it would translate into taking no risks in life, i.e.: don’t skydive, don’t ride roller coasters, always be prepared, don’t let your kids out of your site, etc. I think this cartoon says it all for these people:

For others, and what I think is the most appropriate way of thinking about living safely, it is a "happy medium" approach.

We are all here on this Earth for a limited time. Depending on what age we are and whether or not we have children, we have different definitions for "living safely". When we are younger, we are much more willing to take risks than when we are older and have children relying on us. When we are older, we have different perceptions on how much risks we may want our children to take. And, as we get even older, I think our risk tolerance increases because we know the end is near, and we have less to lose.

With all of that said, do we REALLY consider the risks we are taking? For example, in Alabama, we have one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes of any State in the country:

Why is this? Why is it growing? In my opinion, a lot of this has to do with our laziness and technology. Consider Birmingham, Alabama. Our industry used to be steel. Many employees worked in blue collar jobs. It was physical labor. Now, we are more of a services City: banking, healthcare, legal, etc. We don’t move around nearly as much (we don’t even get up to change the channel on the television anymore). Kids play less outdoors and more on video games.

What else? the fast food industry has seen tremendous growth over the years. Notwithstanding the fact that many of these restaurants are trying to provide healthier choices, their food is still not healthy. Consistently eating this type of food will contribute to obesity and diabetes.

So, why do we continue to eat this type of food? We are taking calculated risks when we could go to a grocery, buy healthier food, and cook healthier meals. But, we are lazy. Going to pick up a burger at McDonalds is quick and easy. We choose quick and easy over healthy, and we take a risk.

We exhibit this in other areas of life. It has been shown that smoking is detrimental to your health and can kill you, but we still do it. Texting and driving is extremely dangerous to ourselves and others, but we still take the risk. Drinking and driving is also risking the lives of ourselves and others, but there are DUI cases in courts around the country every day. We want to live long lives, but we constantly make choices which contradict that wish.

Companies take risks too. They put products on the market which might be dangerous to others, but they want to sell these products and make money. Sometimes, companies such as Ford (with the Pinto) and Merck (with Vioxx) put such a dangerous product on the market that they are called upon to compensate those injured by the risks they took.

So, what can we do? Here are a few suggestions from WebMD. Try them out. See if you can develop good habits. Also, think more about your daily choices and slowly change them. When you go to pick up your cell phone while driving, PUT IT DOWN! When you are hungry, pick a healthy snack – almonds, vegetables, etc. If you are running a company, think of the results/ethics of your actions more than the financial windfall you can receive.

It’s fine to take risks if they only affect you, but when the risks you take affect others, you either need to stop taking them or take responsibility for the damage you might cause as a result. Risks are a part of life, but so are the consequences.


  1. Gravatar for Pam

    I am convinced that technology is a large contributor to obesity, albeit in another way than you mention. Or rather in addition to the decrease in physical activity. When we were young we had little technology of today, and TV shut down around midnight after playing the national anthem. Now we are exposed to the "blue lights" of all of our technology around the clock if we want. That type of light prevents our melatonin from being released when we need it because our brains think it's still daytime. And if we wake in the night and turn on those lights our brains think it's time to wake up. So we lose the amount of sleep we previously had and the deep level of Delta sleep we need. We are not only just tired in general, which causes us to take in more sugar and caffeine to keep going, but the hormones that affect hunger and satiety are affected by the lack of sleep.

    There is a great episode of 60 Minutes which shows that when otherwise healthy young people were deprived of that deep sleep while still actually asleep (when the monitors showed they were in Delta sleep they made a sound to rouse but not wake them) they were exhausted and could be put into a pre-diabetic state after a short period of deprivation of that level of sleep.

    And sleep deprivation obviously has other dangerous consequences as we've recently seen with air-traffic controllers falling asleep!

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