In January of 2011, I found myself at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, preparing for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my neck. The physician was one of the most respected head and neck surgeons in the world, Dr. Kerry Olsen. The operation took six hours as the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes and was ready to pounce on my carotid artery. As I emerged from the operating room, Dr. Olsen informed my wife that it was one of the most challenging surgeries of his career.

I had the good fortune to spend the next several years being cared for by this remarkable man until, on the fifth anniversary of my operation, he stunned me with these words: "David, I believe we can safely say you're cured." I can now endeavor to reciprocate for his competence and kindness.

Besides his duties as a surgeon, Dr. Olsen served as the Medical Director for the Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. One goal of the Center was to develop a wellness program for Mayo employees to enable them to cope with the work-related stresses and challenges found in most work places. As important, however, was discovering how employees could expand on this learning to live even healthier and happier lives.

The positive results Dr. Olsen witnessed inspired him to innovate on this program and make it available to a broader community. He designed The Twelve Habits of Healthy and Happy People and I had the opportunity recently to participate in a workshop with other corporate executives in which each of the habits was described. Dr. Olsen, our facilitator, shared the comprehensive research that went into defining the habits and the impressive results when people adopt and apply them.

Some habits will not surprise most of you. For example, regular physical activity and being mindful of what we eat and consume. It is quite staggering, however, when presented with the evidence of the medical conditions people can avoid with a "simple" commitment to walking just thirty minutes a day. What impressed me, therefore, was that one could embrace these habits without committing to living a spartan life.

The goals were simple, practical and achievable. It was clear that they were the result of an awareness of what people were willing and not willing to do. The program is also supported by a mobile Ap to keep people motivated and on track.

On a personal note, what delighted me was that four of the habits validated what I had long believed and written about regarding what contributes to a successful and rewarding life: Gratitude, Laughter, Forgiveness and Quieting the Mind. I came away from the workshop inspired to make some changes to my own life and feeling strongly that Dr. Olsen and his team had discovered a very worthy purpose.

My takeaway: Any program that claims it can reduce healthcare costs and increase employee productivity, engagement and motivation would seem to be well worthwhile exploring.

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Note: Following my cancer treatment I wrote a booklet: My Sacred Journey Through Cancer to encourage and bring comfort to those who had been impacted by cancer. Please message me for a free PDF copy.