03 December 2018

Why is it so hard to do what is good for us? And 3 top tips to change that…

These days, most of us know what is good for our health and our wellbeing.
Yet why does it often seem easier to do things that are bad for us compared to those that do us good?

This week a guest blog from Ruth with 3 ways to rectify all this, plus a dose of inspiration - all as we embark on leading another meditation retreat together in the Yarra Valley at the start of December, but first

              Thought for the day

         Hope is the thing with feathers
         That perches in the soul,
         And sings the tune without the words,
         And never stops at all.  
           
                          Emily Dickinson




We are the most highly-educated population that has ever walked the planet.
And courtesy of the net we can look up anything and everything in a few moments. Of course there are different opinions that have different levels of authority and conviction but we all know what we eat, how we exercise, and our state of mind all have a considerable impact on our health and wellbeing. Yet often enough we seem to have trouble sticking to doing it!

So what is missing? I believe that rather more than information, what we need is help with implementation. Doctors call it compliance. I call it “Making a Plan” and finding a way to get supported in that plan.

Ask yourself the following questions…

Do I lack clarity and uncertainty about what really works?
Am I unsure about who to trust?
Do I lack confidence?
Do I have a fear of failure?
Am I habitually destructive with my thinking?
Am I unable to let go of old habits or preferences?
Do I find it difficult to open my mind to embrace new ideas?
Am I lazy or forgetful?
Am I in denial? Do I know what being in denial is?
Do I lack willpower?
Do I feel under pressure to conform from family, friends
or professionals to maintain a status quo, to keep up an image?
Do I ever succumb to some deeper, darker self-sabotage?
Am I frightened about old age?                

Most of us will answer yes to several if not many of the above.

So what to do?
How to cut through all this? Why does it often seem so difficult to do what is in our own best health and wellbeing interests? Why is it so many of us get complacent and lazy and have habits we find difficult to change?

Maybe part of the problem is the modern version of laziness. This current Western Civilisation version of laziness is actually about being endlessly busy. Working, family, shopping, socializing, housekeeping… the days are one long run around! No time for attention to self. No time to attend to what is really good for us.

1. Fear
In my experience, what often breaks through all this first and foremost is a good dose of fear!
Maybe this is not the answer you had hoped to hear, but what I observe is the people who generally do “Make a Plan” for their health and carry it through are those who start when facing extreme difficulties and are afraid of dying or of becoming disabled - like many of those who come to our cancer programs and multiple sclerosis programs.

Fact is we can benefit from being afraid of not recovering, of being afraid of an unhealthy old age, of being a burden on our families or communities, of being in pain and of suffering physical disability. Fear can be a great initial motivator. It can be very helpful to observe what is happening to so many older people we know and to fear for our own future. Of course, overwhelming fear is stifling, even paralyzing; so that level of fear needs to be balanced with hope - the hope of being able to doing something about it.

2.Inspiration
And for hope we need to be inspired - by people, magazines, books, podcasts, programs and films. Our present culture is too tough to just expect we will automatically become inspired. We need to be prepared to be different and change the culture of our family.

3. Making a plan for our health 
This is the third essential. There are so many choices, so many options these days, we need to make time to consult, to read, to ask questions and contemplate. A good plan does not occur by accident; it can take time and focus, but then it establishes our direction. And then, informed by a good plan, we need to choose like-minded friends - people who also want to have a go at being healthy - to support us in our lifestyle.


And how is this for inspiration?


Some years back now, Ian and I attended the marriage of our dear friends and colleagues, George Jelinek and Sandy Neate, both Emergency Medicine Physicians.

George is well known now for his invaluable contribution to Multiple Sclerosis.

George, being a rigorous academic and Professor of Emergency Medicine, was diagnosed with MS in 1999.

This led him to undertake extensive research related to the illness and enabled him to arrive at his own conclusions.

He changed his diet, exercise routine, Vitamin D levels and way of life.

Overcoming MS is a great book.

As for George - many years on he remains diligent with his lifestyle and he remains very well!

But back in 1999, speaking at the reception, Sandy recollected first meeting George. Sandy become aware of what she thought in those days was his rather restrictive diet.

So, she asked “Do you ever cheat on the diet George?”

Sandy said he responded with a somewhat puzzled look, as if not to understand the question, so she repeated “Do you ever cheat?”

This time George did reply. “Why would I cheat on the diet when there is so much at stake?”

Simple really.

Men like George are an inspiration. His clarity made it easy. George is fully aware that when it comes to the chronic, degenerative, medical conditions - cancer, depression, anxiety, heart disease, autoimmune diseases (including MS), Alzheimer’s, arthritis - what you eat, how you exercise, what your state of mind is  - all have a major impact on the course of these illnesses. And if you have not got an illness, these factors play a major role in whether or not you develop them.


So why wait? 

Medical evidence is now very clear - an unhealthy lifestyle is linked to just about every health issue you would rather avoid.

Also, a healthy lifestyle is linked to more than "just" prevention, it is linked to recovery from just about every health issue you would rather not experience.

So why wait? 

Draw on any fear you can muster.

Draw on inspiration wherever you can.

Make a plan and expect to experience the side effects of a healthy lifestyle - chronic good health and an active, engaging old age.


RUTH'S NEXT MEDITATION RETREAT

RECLAIMING JOY - April 12 - 18 2019, Yarra Valley Living Centre.

Details - call the Foundation - 03 5967 1730 or www.gawler.org

The legend of Meditation in the Forest lives on!

This classic 7 day meditation retreat is on again for yet another pre-Easter.

In 2019 it will be lead by Ruth Gawler and Melissa Borich.

Some will have had the good fortune to have shared time with Melissa in some of our previous retreats. Melissa is a highly accomplished yoga teacher with a wonderful capacity to tailor yoga for beginners or the advanced. Melissa has also trained with me as a meditation teacher and is one of the people I highly value and recommend.


Together with Ruth, these two women will present a wonderful retreat
- lucky you if you get to be there :)