Few Are Desperate Enough To Be Well

Working in the wellness field is a lot like pushing a string. I do things, intended to be helpful, but I don’t seem to get the desired results. And I don’t think I am unusual here. The country is not getting well despite the many wellness workers passionate to make a difference. It’s the opposite of Jesus’ problem – the workers are plentiful but the harvest is few.

I wonder why is there no “Dave Ramsey of wellness.” You’re probably familiar with Dave Ramsey, the creator of Financial Peace University, who has helped over a million families out of debt to a better financial future. His program is short, focused and very popular across the country. It just works for people.

I’d like to do something like that with wellness and lifestyle change. The steps to physical wellness are no more complex than those to financial wellness. As with finances, lifestyle changes can produce rapid, tangible physical results. But no one else seems to have cracked this nut either. Maybe it’s because no one has created just the right curriculum. Or perhaps it’s that we lack Dave’s inimitable style.

Or it’s because people simply aren’t desperate enough to be well. High levels of debt and living paycheck to paycheck in fear of losing your home concentrate the mind in a way that being 50 lbs overweight with type II diabetes does not. Many people in financial trouble are desperate to get their heads above water, and they accept the need for urgent change on their part. You don’t see that so much with average the sedentary, overweight person at the doctor’s office. No desperation. Only acceptance.

Recovery from addition is another area where desperation seems to pay off. It seems that to recover you’ve got to want it bad. Alcoholics Anonymous’ literature teaches that members must be “…willing to go to any length…” in order to successfully work the steps. That’s desperation. Ready to do anything to get well? You had better be. No desperation = no recovery.

We don’t usually look at our common health problems like that. Make no mistake – obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle illnesses are very harmful. These diseases cause years of chronic ill health and associated debility for tens of millions of Americans, not to mention early death for many. Yet are we desperate to get well? Desperate enough to change our lifestyles? Apparently not.

Why not? I’m not completely sure. I think that main reason is that the pain (or consequences) of these illnesses is not all that bad, at least at first. Also, we like our unhealthy lifestyles. It feels good to eat, drink and be lazy even when it’s bad for us. Lastly, it’s so normal. “I’m just living like everyone else.” True. (But not helpful.)

Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. When problems get “bad enough,” change becomes possible. Unfortunately many people never get there. How bad is “bad enough” for you to be desperate?


  1. Great thoughts, Pete! It’s interesting that Dave Ramsey went bankrupt before he came up with the programs that have been life-changing for so many people. Talk about desperation! I’ve taken his Crown Ministry course as well as Financial Peace University. They are both excellent and, as with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they require a deep commitment to set goals and the discipline to carry out the plan day by day. If information was all that was needed, we’d be all set, but sustainable change takes work and determination. No easy answers, but isn’t it great to keep trying to find them to help ourselves and others? So let’s stay encouraged and keep at it … with God’s help!

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Thank you Amaryllis. I didn’t know Dave Ramsey’s bankruptcy story. It’s neat how God often brings something good out of our bad experiences. Pete

  2. Todd Bauerle says:

    Success often starts with failure