“Always Remember This Power that Nature Gave You” — Marcus Aurelius (from the Stoic Philosopher’s book, “Meditations”)
Newsflash! You are your own savior, your own doctor, your own guru. You do not need an intermediary between you and the health and lifestyle you desire. The cavalry, government, institutional systems, and gurus cannot do a dam thing for you. Take a deep breath and let the brainwashing you have been subjected to flow out of you. Resolve this moment of this day, to take a profoundly personal responsibility for your health, habits, and happiness.
Yes, the world is on your shoulders. Yes, your actions make a radical difference, not just in your life course, but in every life connected to yours. You have a partner, children, older parents, loved ones that need you and your assistance in some way? Does that responsibility scare you to some degree? It should. I do not know about you, but it scares me. A lot.
Why Are You Still “Slacking”?
Many of us feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities. Yet, in some odd, almost indiscernible way, we dissipate our actions in an almost “passive-aggressive” manner. We complain about every circumstance outside of ourselves for what ails us. We feel that by blaming Trump, the economy, the political parties, the “isms and schisms” of society, the unhealthy environment, the corporate food industrial complex, etc., ad ifinitum — we are absolved. We are not.
The core of why we are or, are not healthy (in any realm of our lives; physical, financial, relationships, etc.) is because of two key things:
- Our subconscious thoughts about ourselves.
- Our habits we have accrued over time.
The Radical Power of Your Subconscious
Though it would have sounded difficult for me to accept or believe years ago, I now believe that our subconscious plays a MUCH more important role in the quality of our lives that our conscious thought life. This is why purely cognitive approaches to thought and behavior change almost always fail.
We cognitively “know” we should quit smoking, eat more vegetables, exercise more, be wiser stewards of our money, etc. Why do we not do it? Subconscious programming. This comes from a host of factors, 90% of which are related to our upbringing and childhood experiences. Mama or Pops said to your 5 year-old-self, “You will never be . . . (fill in the blank), “ or, “You are too . . . (fill in the blank) to . . . (fill in the blank).”
Though you listen to self-help audio programs, go to a therapist, or “rebel” against everything your parents stand for, it does not change how you TRULY feel deep in the core of your being — your subconscious. So you subconsciously SABOTAGE every positive step you take in your life. Then you act (or are genuinely) surprised when X, Y, and Z occur. Time to grow up.
We need to do some hardcore DEEP work on, not just our minds, but our souls, to get our behaviors in alignment with our goals, beliefs, and our dreams. Otherwise, we are just diving off of a cliff with no wings. Your subconscious convictions and auto-pilot systems are those wings. They will drive you to soar, or to (repeated) crash and burn.
This is true for every area of our lives, but it is particularly reflected in how we treat our physical bodies. What do we really believe about ourselves? Do we really feel we rightly “belong” on this earth? Is this physical body of mine a curse or a blessing? A dumpster, or a “temple”?
The Radical Power of Your Habits
Every ailment we encounter, every positive or negative physical sensation of our body (and its health) emanate from an accumulation of our habits. Our repeated behavior patterns determine the vast majority of our well-being. Of course, there are freak accidents, odd viruses, exceptional factors from the outside can affect us. But 90% of our ailments and physical challenges are merely the calling card of a symptom — not so gently advising us we need more balance in our daily habits.
I have been reading a lot from the ancient stoic philosophers lately. Those old dead guys were pretty dam smart. If I had to boil their premises down to the core, they would be the following: Mind the details of your life, be grateful for what you have, conserve your resources, do not be swayed or stressed by things outside of your direct control, and cultivate solid habits that conform to your stated goals. Pretty simple stuff. We are out habits. Our bodies condition reflects an accumulation of all of our previous habits and choices.
My basic approach to cultivating positive changes (and lasting habits) into my life revolve around a Japanese system of management called, “The Kaizen Way.” This works on the idea that most humans are resistant to change. Yet, if we build into our daily and weekly routines incremental (and hence non-painful) change, it sticks. No instant victories, just long term and deep seated change. Yet even for that, we need adequate motivation.
Do You REALLY Want to Be Here for Your Loved Ones?
This is not a rhetorical question. Do you want to live a long, healthy life in order for . . . in order for what? What would be your deep seated motivation for making better choices? Wanting a “beach body” for the Summer may not be enough motivation. But can you imagine the effect upon your children, or your parents, if you died? If you were erased from the land of the living forever?
People die every day. Why not you? What lies within your power of control to prevent that inevitability? Your daily choices. Are you drinking too much to cover up your stress or anxiety? How much more work would it be to instead, do five minutes of Qigong or Tai Chi? Are you eating too much unhealthy “comfort” food, to comfort your emotions? Get to the root of those underlying emotions directly by doing the “work.” For you, that may be cognitive therapy, hypnosis, mind-body therapies, art therapy, being in nature and taking time to think, whatever!
Freedom — To Be the Real You
You are 200% responsible for your own welfare. Grow up and accept that responsibility. Do not only accept it, embrace it. The fact that you are not dependent on outside help or forces to improve your health is great power.
My biggest challenge as a Qigong, Tai Chi, or Martial Arts Trainer is not in teaching people the principles or moves. It is in reminding them of their own power. My teachers worked hard with me to get me to understand this. The most incredulous thing to most modern humans is that they have all the resources within them already. Once you get a grasp on that awesome power and fearful responsibility, you got the key to better health and wellbeing. That freedom is worth more than the best lame-ass health care insurance coverage you could ever afford. If you create your own dam health care system, there is no “fine print” to deny you anything.