Why Give a Damn:

If you die before your big idea comes to fruition – your idea dies too.


The author of this post, Ann Garvin is an author, speaker and professor of health, stress management, research methods and media literacy.

Pursuing health is more important than math. It’s more important than literacy. It’s more important than art or science or spelling. It’s more important than pursuing a start-up that will end Global Warming. 

Come on. Give me a good fight here. Tell me I’m wrong.

Losing your lunch is a great equalizer

But before you do, consider the stomach flu and picture this scenario. You are sitting at your desk working out the math for your big project or you’re reading blue prints or working out the science of how a virus spreads and the Caesar Salad you ordered from the Deli (the one with the raw egg in it) comes back to haunt you.  For the next twenty-four hours all you can do is heave, sweat, and curse the Deli that served you tainted food. You aren’t a world saver any more. You are a sick person just hoping to get through the night.

Losing your lunch is a great equalizer. The flu fells the beautiful and powerful and does not discriminate. You know what else is like that?

Heart Disease

We’re funny little optimistic creatures for having such a fragile infrastructure

Heart disease kills one in two or three people in the United States of America. For you data lovers, that’s every 39 seconds someone dies from heart disease and stroke. Every other person or one from every single family on the planet will succumb to an entirely preventable disease.

Let me put that in your wheelhouse. One in two. That’s me or you and I sleep enough, exercise and consume five fruits and vegetables every single day.  Put your arm on the table. I’ll wrestle you for it.

We’re funny little optimistic creatures for having such a fragile infrastructure. We think because we can’t directly see the damage in our arteries and we can still manage our schedules that we can concentrate on other things.

Consider this. If 470,000 people drowned each year (this is the number of heart disease deaths in America) every child in our country would go to school with swim fins, Michael Kors would design life jackets that look like a tuxedo and women would have flotation devices implanted in their chests (ok, so that was going too far).

If 470,000 people drowned each year Michael Kors would design life jackets that look like tuxedos

Picture yourself, with your fabulous, world-saving idea. You are hot on the trail, indispensable to the project, no one knows more about it or is more passionate than you and then you die of heart disease, the silent killer that was working on you with the same passion. But heart disease has a better record of wins and your idea dies with you.

Embedded in this doomsday prediction though is a phrase that is like a beautiful, glistening artery and that is: heart disease is entirely preventable. Entirely. I’d like to leave you with the phrase that the television series Friday Night Lights made famous: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose – but I’d like to change it a little to; Clear eyes, clean hearts, can’t lose.

About the author

Ann Garvin

Ann Garvin

Ann is an author, speaker and educator. As professor of health, stress management, research methods and media literacy at University of Wisconsin Whitewater, she has worked extensively in psychometrics, statistics and psychology. Ann is the author of On Maggie’s Watch & The Dog Year (Berkley Penguin, 2014).