Dr. Mehmet Oz is widely known as a best-selling author and the host of the 10-time Emmy award-winning show, The Dr. Oz Show. The renowned heart surgeon is also recognized for his work in bringing contemporary medicine to the mainstream.
At the DSA ENGAGE annual meeting held earlier this month in New Orleans, Dr. Oz spoke to attendees on a variety of topics during his “Reset and Reconnect” session, including his insights on medical advances expected in the next few years and why relationships are so important to our overall well-being. He also addressed the aftereffects of COVID-19 and what is needed to help those suffering from pandemic-related mental health issues.
DSA ENGAGE: What has COVID done in terms of affecting the mental health of people?
Dr. Oz: The United States was hit harder by COVID than any other population on the planet. There are much lower rates of COVID death in parts of Africa, which you would think would have higher rates because they don't have healthcare systems there. The reason they do not have higher rates is because they don't have the chronic illnesses we have here in the US.
We have emotional illnesses in this country, driven by loneliness. Ninety-one percent of my viewers say they’re more anxious than they’ve ever been—or at least since they've been watching my show and I've been on TV for thirteen years. It's a fairly good biopsy of how Americans feel.
We are also spiritually ill. I say that not because I'm going to insist that people believe in God, but because we have to respect the archetypes that have always governed humanity. There are stories bigger than us that remind us that we're part of a bigger fabric and bigger quilt—and that there's a collective unconsciousness that binds us all and there's something missing there. There's a forgetting of the fact that there's a divine spirit in each and all of us.
So when you isolate people, especially in an atomized time as what we are having right now in our history, it becomes more important that we look out for one another. We are the safety net for each other. We always have been.
The work-life balance we speak about is, I believe, a bit of a fallacy. What you really have is ambition, which is primarily about being different from everybody else—being better than everybody else. Then there's intimacy, which is more about being like everybody else—being with people and building community. Those are opposites in theory. There's a point where ambition and intimacy meet, and you're forever going to be climbing up one side or down the other and back up again. And that is okay! That's how we're supposed to be. That's why we need each other. People in our lives are going to make us more intimate or make us more ambitious. If we forget that then we end up losing agency over our future.
Some people do not think their decisions are important both to their own lives and to the place in which we live. That's why what you do is so important. I talk to folks in the direct selling space, and I see mentors, but we don't have enough of them. When you are helping people understand your business and maturing them and nurturing them through the process of failure and getting back up again and getting better and holding yourself accountable, you're making them powerful. It's really vital that that mentoring process is nurtured. Entrepreneurial systems are so important to a country, yet we haven't supported them. It’s been quite the opposite. We've made rules that hinder and processes that people don't understand.
DSA ENGAGE: Many Americans are choosing to leave the workforce. What are you seeing in terms of that?
Dr. Oz: It’s fascinating to evaluate who’s actually leaving the workforce. I think better positions generally are staying, but there are many people who've left the workforce because they've realized what they were doing before the pandemic is not what they want to do.
We're all in the change business, right? What we're trying to do is bring about change—change in people, change in businesses, change in culture. Eighty percent of people don’t want to change at all. Ten percent are trying to change, and 10 percent have changed and don’t want to go back to where they used to be. They just want to stay where they are.
Part of the challenge is to ensure that we have enough people who understand what change means and move more than 80 percent into the understanding that they could be there. And there's a whole psychology of change that revolves around this. This is what you're actually all tapping into in different ways—waking up the 80 percent and shaking them. And it's often done by people that connect you in ways you never know. It's those connections that get us to realize that we need to shift. You're not going to listen to someone on stage talk about change. You're going to listen to someone you care about who you know cares about you.
DSA ENGAGE: What’s the best thing we can do to create community and work together?
Dr. Oz: Get off the sidelines. In 1918–1919, the First World War devastated most of the planet. Toward the end of the war, there was an outbreak of the Spanish flu, which infected around 500 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 20 million. Yet, the following ten years were the greatest growth opportunity on the planet. I think we're going to see the same thing, and if you're sitting on the sidelines watching it all happen because you're not sure of the risks, you’ll miss the growth opportunities. It's about as safe a time as it has ever been on the planet. Yes, there are things that could go wrong, but I firmly believe they won't go wrong and there will be bigger fortunes made now than ever before. And those fortunes will mostly be made by people working on the front lines trying to build this country better.