We have all at one point stood a few dominos up in a row, gave the first one a little push, watched it knock down the second, the second knock down the third, and so on. The basic concept is that one event sets off a chain of similar events and all those events combined have an impact. Let’s apply this concept to our health in two ways.

The first is the way we think about our health. I will start with a personal example: when I was in high school, I sprained my ankle playing football. It was a pretty small and normal incident. But the avulsion sprain affected my mobility and therefore my ability to play, which was unacceptable for me. I could not fathom sitting on the bench during a game, and I was angry that something so insignificant (in my mind) could get in the way of that. When the anger faded, I realized the breadth of health and how important it is. Any limitations – whether in my mobility, strength, physical wellbeing, etc. – didn’t just affect my body, it affected my happiness and quality of life. It is hard to change your lifestyle just for the sake of health. We hear about health all the time and know that it is important. But too often we don’t connect health and happiness. Happiness is something we can all get behind. Who doesn’t want to be happy? Even the Declaration of Independence, the foundation of our nation, recognizes the “pursuit of happiness” as a core piece of who we are as Americans (and as humans).

The second way I want to look at the Domino Effect and health is in relation to the body itself. Our bodies are smart and independent. So when any part of it – internal or external – moves out of its optimal state of health it is triggered to send our brain signals to take action (pain/symptoms), and that signal triggers us to do something to fix the problem. This can play out in countless ways, but let’s use the example of my sprained ankle. The action of the sprain caused my body to send pain signals to my brain, my processing of pain led me to get out of the game and seek help. Because I had a high sense of urgency to fix the problem (and get back to the game), I quickly got it checked out and I followed the exact treatment procedures I was given. Had I not had that motivation, I would have done what a lot of people do: throw some ice on it, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, and wait. Sometimes that works and the body heals itself back to its original state, but – more often than not – the waiting period turns into an adjustment period, unbeknownst to us. In other words, in the time that we think we are healing, we are actually just getting used to the pain and accepting a new normal. If I had done that, it is likely that my body would have compensated by leaning on my other ankle, which would have changed the way I walked, my posture, and set me up for a lot of pain in many more places later in life. The Domino Effect!