William Affolter, M.D. stood before his beloved patients and delivered a speech he'd written for the occasion. Reflections, he called it. I can't remember a lot of it, but something he said was so straightforward in its simplicity, I am unable to forget it.
"Good health has three main components," he said. "Good genes, good luck, and good choices. You can't control the first two, but you can control the last . . . things like sunscreen and seat belts and diet, not smoking, health screenings, exercise . . . these pay off. "
I've shared this observation with a lot of friends over the years. A surprising number of people are taken aback by the idea that they're not entirely in charge of their own good health. But when they think about it, they see the light. Ah, yes . . . genes and luck.
If we do what we can to make healthy choices, we've done everything we can. The roles of luck (sometimes very bad, indeed) and genes (sometimes greatly lacking) will play out in time. Only choices--one third of the equation--can be managed by us.