We hear it from almost from the moment we are born: "Don't just sit there, do something!" Well, as I explained in this old post (Unlearning Our Bias Toward Action), there are numerous times when the best strategy — be it managing your stock portfolio; deciding whether to switch lanes on the freeway; or even whether to dive left or right in a soccer shoot-out – is to do nothing.
I would now like to add a new area where you might want to unlearn your need to "do something": health care. According to this informative article in today's Wall Street Journal (Getting Well: It's About Time), "An estimated one-third to one-half of the $2.2 trillion Americans spend annually on health care in the U.S. is spent on unnecessary tests, treatments and doctors visits."
Often the best thing a person can do to improve their health is — wait for it, wait for it – nothing! In many cases of the flu, colds, back pain, headaches, diarrhea and countless other ailments, the best thing to do is simply let your body — with the help of time — take care of the ailment.
Unfortunately, this can be tough medicine to take — people don't like "doing nothing." Alas, like unlearning, this strategy of "doing nothing" is neither easy to employ nor does it feel "natural," it will often deliver the best results in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money.
Who said unlearning has to be hard? Sometimes it doesn't require you to do anything at all!