From Pathogenesis to Salutogenesis for Public Health

I had the good fortune of being paired with Dr. Leslie Hoglund at Old Dominion University for a presentation at Nuisance Flooding Conference in April of 2021. Later that year,  at the 2021 Public Health Innovation Summit & Showcase, she made this powerful 14 minute presentation, From Pathogenesis to Salutogenesis: Unraveling & Redesigning Public Health. In this presentation she explains why and how health professionals should focus on generating more good, not just less bad. I encourage you watch her presentation because these ideas apply to all of us.

Dr. Hoglund explained how and why using a salutogenic approach would be more effective for public health efforts at generating comprehensive improvements by focusing on creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless synergistic interactions through their activities to promote health. If you agree and like it, I encourage you to share this with everyone and especially all the health professionals you know.


Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!


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Repeated Message: Need More Good

It seems every day I get hit with more messages telling me the same thing, we need more good, not just less bad. We can do things that not only benefit ourselves, but also leave everyone and everything else better. Transactions where each side just trades goods, is not enough, our transactions must have positive ripples. Even President Biden’s plans seek to “Build Back Better”.

Overall, I am continually learning we can be better when doing good. For example, last week I saw, “Kiss the Ground“, a movie that demonstrated how farmers, food, nourishment and society can be better through better methods. My wife shared something that makes her life better and also improves our world. I also read an excellent journal article by Ilona Kickbusch, PhD, Visioning the future of health promotion , that explained there are better methods needed for the future and was how she was visioning this for the future. I keep hearing we can do more good, not just less bad.

When I say it must be more good, not just less bad I mean the more sustainable, selfish, selfless, synergistic way of doing. For example, my wife changed from dairy creamer to almond milk creamer and she prefers the almond creamer, its better – selfish. Choosing almond rather than a dairy based creamer is good for the environment and animals – Selfless. My wife, getting a better morning brew and the opportunity to feel good about herself in a better environment means she can have a better day and help more kids – she teaches – synergy. Only when it is more good, will we stick with changes and only then will we want to look for more ways to be more good, not just less bad.

Kiss the Ground” is a movie about better soil, which makes better food, enables farmers to earn more money, can capture more carbon and makes better food. The food nourishes us more, which means we want more of this food that the farmer feels good about selling, because he knows it also benefits the environment, so he wants to make more of, etc. etc. it goes round and round of more good, not just less bad.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Halbert Dunn devised of the concept of Wellness. He explained wellness must be:

Strong enough to activate devotion of time, resources, and energies toward understanding and culturing health in a positive sense

Halbert Dunn (1959, High Level Wellness for Man & Society)

As he stated, Wellness, which I define as progress, (See Experiencing Wellness = Progress Toward Desired) must be strong enough to devote time, resources and energies toward it development. I think he meant that its achievements should mean enough to us that we want to work toward its achievement.

For example, the 2021 JAMA article, Association Between Structural Housing Repairs for Low-Income Homeowners and Neighborhood Crime by Eugenia C. South, MD; John MacDonald, PhD; Vincent Reina, PhD, showed fixing up house, not only gave people a better place to live and a better life – the better community also had less crime. Could it be because people watched out for their neighbors, had more pride of ownership, or other reasons. Yes! More good, is has more of an impact than less bad.

In my own way, it has been my focus to Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad as I explained in this 17 minute presentation I made to my university’s sustainability committee.

Creating more good was also what McDonough and Braungart highlighted in their book Upcycle (see Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad). Seventh Generation CEO Jeffrey Hollander also emphasized less bad is not enough to generate more good.

Over and over evidence continues to document that we should focus on how to create more good, not just less bad. To make things better, we have to also fix what we broke. Either way, it is the best thing we can do because we will be making a contribution, Selfish, that others will benefit from, Selfless, and then there will be a better world, Synergy. #SelfishSelflessSynergy

I continue to work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions from which everyone and everything benefits because it makes my dash – , valuable. The Dash is the poem written by Linda Ellis where the dash represents the time you were alive (i.e. like for my dad, 1932-2019) He made his dash valuable.

I am hoping these posts will inspire you to make your Dash even better by engaging in selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions that help everyone and everything. Please share how you generate #SelfishSelflessSynergy!


Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!


Please share your thoughts and questions below.
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“Smarter Taxes” Can Help Build our Ideal World

I have been reading Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist” and it is fantastic. She indicates more “Undoing” of what seemed correct is needed (see Undoing Needed because Mental Illusions Impact Us and To Improve: “Undoing” Needed to Create Better!).

This book has captured my attention and it is keeping it because there are so many wonderful detailed plans about how to do things in a better way. Instead of just saying why things are wrong, she provides an explanation about better ways and then how and why they are better…with examples. It appears her aim is more good, not just less bad. She provides multiple examples of #SelfishSelflessSynergy.

If you follow me, you know I have been suggesting we should “Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad”. I also suggest we can do this if we “Exceed Expectations” or what I call  +3. I detail this in my YouTube Video’s and my articles. I specifically address this in the “Exceed Expectations” video.

As noted in the title, she also explains how this can be true for taxes. While the idea of “Tax Relief” seems desirable, we need to remember that taxes are great because they enable us to fulfill the desires and needs of our society. Libraries, schools, parks, roads, green areas and all the things that make life better exist because of taxes. These government developed projects are public goods that enhance the well-being of everyone.

We also need to remember that those fantastic innovators at Google and Apple and others were only possible because of the public internet infrastructure built from taxes. From this perspective, taxes are a form of selfish, selfless, synergy or a way to practice paneugenesis and create all good. In other words, taxes can be a way to generate comprehensive benefits by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone an everything benefits. Well at least they could be, let me explain.

Kate Raworth’s book helped me see taxes from an even more beneficial perspective. As she explains, taxes change behaviors. By that she means what is taxed causes people to adjust what they do. For example, in the past when they taxed windows, people built houses without windows. Now, because they tax labor with payroll taxes, insurance, etc., corporations work to find ways to eliminate the expense of labor. These efforts have generated the wonderfully innovative invention of artificial intelligence (AI). AI, sometimes as robots, can now perform the actions of humans at a lower cost. In this way, taxes adjusted behaviors.

Behaviors demonstrate that taxes adjust behaviors so less use of what is taxed is substituted for things that are not taxed. Knowing this suggests we must update the tax code so we tax what we want less of and subsidize things we want to increase. Succinctly, she explains we should switch from taxing labor to taxing capital. Right now the taxing system encourages us to be creative to find ways for machines do the work instead of humans. For example:

main image

Autonomous Forklifts Replace Manned Forklifts, One Unit at a Time

The code will subsidize these forklifts, the capital, because their purchase costs will be used to decrease income and related taxes. However, if more employees were hired, this would increase costs and related taxes. To create more good we need to switch from focusing on increasing labor productivity to increasing resource productivity. Doing this means we will tax what we want to get rid of and subsidize what we want to increase and creativity will be used to create better working conditions for humans. The result of this should increase jobs and decrease resource use.

In a related example she discussed the traditional Corporate Response for requests to go green. The first group would do nothing wondering why they should change when their job is to make profits. The second group would only do what pays back, or do what is green if it can earn them more profits. The third group she identifies would only do their fair share. This concerned her because it seemed to subliminally suggest everyone has a right to pollute. The fourth group, with what seems to be good intentions, attempts to only  do no harm or mission zero. While this is good, she cited Will McDonough, of Cradle to Cradle and Upcycle fame (please see Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad)  who said that is only about being less bad, it is not being good.

Her recommendation is that organizations should focus on being generous. That is they should design their efforts to be regenerative by design. Studies also demonstrate this is a more profitable focus from many perspectives. This means their efforts give back and is what I describe as +3. These efforts aim to be regenerative so they provide biosphere stewardship and the result will be leaving the planet better than they found it.

I look forward to hearing about your generous efforts that will help benefit everyone and everything. Please share your efforts so we can learn from your selfish, selfless, synergistic actions. Thank you.

Be Well’r,

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad

The chart below, as developed by McDonough and Braungart for their book Upcycle, displays the goal of good or positive impacts being more than negative impacts.

UpCycle Chart

Both positive and negative impacts are continually happening and both exist simultaneously. Most important, it is necessary to understand that negative and positive impacts are independent. I discuss how negative and positive concepts impact health in the short video, Create the Life You Want, below.

Decreasing negative does not create positive impacts just as increasing positive impacts does not decrease negative impacts directly. Indirectly however they are related because of time. There is only so much time to do things and if our efforts lead to negative impacts, there is then only enough time to make things less bad, not actually good or positive. For this reason it is important to start with a positive objective instead of one to lessen bad. The goal or aim of creating all good by creating interactions so everyone and everything (all species) benefits is necessary to allow positive impacts to overtake negative impacts. Of course as noted in previous posts, I call this the practice of paneugenesis or selfish, selfless, synergy.

By using the starting point of an idealized outcome or to create ALL good rather than rectify problems, good or positive impacts are more likely to overtake negative impacts. In my discussions, I often point out examples in life when positives have a larger impact than negatives. The positive impact of Deming and his quality management efforts is an example that allowed business efforts to have positive impacts that overtook negative impacts. In health I have documented where salutogenesis efforts enable positive impacts to overtake negative impacts, and in policy the practice of libertarian paternalism has shown that we can “Nudge” society in ways so positive impacts overtake negatives. The most recent example I have come across is that of Upcycling or to create beneficial environmental impacts as outlined by McDonough and Braungart in Cradle to Cradle and Upcycle.


Another powerful example of efforts that result in positive impacts overtaking negative impacts is the work of Carol Dweck in education. Her efforts have focused on the idea of the growth mindset rather than the traditional set mindset. To learn more I encourage you to read her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and listen to her recent TED Presentation below, ” The Power of Believing You Can Improve.”


Each of these efforts are profoundly important and helpful, however, to me what is most important and valuable are the similarities of the many efforts to Create Good, not just cause Less Bad. My upcoming posts will focus on these connections and how our efforts can create more good, not just less bad!

Enjoy – Happy Holidays. I look forward to hearing how you will make 2015 a More Good Year, not just a Less Bad Year!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

I look forward to hearing about how you use selfish, selfless, synergy to generate All Good by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits!