No more failed intentions or botched resolutions. You want a real long-term journey toward health. You’re ready to battle short term thinking and quick fixes. You’ve read your last diet book, bought your last diet supplement, and established you can’t live most of life on a detox or cleanse. You’re ready to begin making permanent and maintainable lifestyle changes. Congratulations! You’re one of the brave few who has wisely concluded the path to superior health is a lifelong journey. More like planting a new tree or developing a relationship than fixing your car…
As you leave the driveway on your new endeavor what will you need for the journey? You don’t need much if you’re going away for the weekend, but if you’re leaving for a lifelong journey you’ll need to pack wisely.
You need to pack 4 bags on this special trip. One call PROBLEM, one called POSSIBILITY, one called PROMOTION, and one called PROCESS! You’ll need all of them to make sure you don’t get stuck along the way…
The 4 bags to pack for your trip:
- The PROBLEM of resistance. Why is there so much illness? People seem to know what they need to do to improve their health. What makes it so hard for the average Joe to achieve great lifelong wellness? You need to get clear – there are forces working against your moment toward wellness! What are those forces? I would site three. Our culture that commonly disregards the natural consequences of our behavior and mostly just wants to sell us something. Our own bodies and habits that crave, demand, and distract us from seeing real needs and meeting them in a healthful way. And poor thinking. The faulty assumptions, deceptions, voices of friends, the media, and even whispers from our own minds; all of them encouraging us toward destructive choices. As you depart expect to live with and overcome this resistance! It’s just part of the journey. Once you accept resistance you can make choices accordingly. You will need become aware of obstacles from all three areas. The other essentials will help you do the overcoming…
- Seeing the POSSIBILITY of supreme health. Understanding that the human body is capable of function far above what the average American experiences is critical. You may not have good role models around you to help you see and believe what is possible. If you don’t believe you can feel great, and avoid chronic disease why would you set goals or go on a long-term journey in the first place? This is one of the reasons many people don’t. You must believe it is possible to heal. You could start by studying cultures past or present with little or no chronic illness and long functional lives. Set both short and long-term goals. Associate them with achieving your most important life objectives. Pack the bag of possibility, it’s a must!
- Learning to apply the ideals of health PROMOTION. Health is holistic, meaning there are a number of required ingredients needed for the synergy we call vibrant wellness. We need some of each ingredient much like a business can’t function well with only a great product, it must have sales, marketing, etc. For example, eating well and exercising is wonderful but a person would still be sick if they weren’t sleeping. And not sleeping would make it hard to eat and exercise well. The pieces are interdependent. Knowing what promotes health and the ideals for each promoter allows us to make wise decisions as we plan our next steps. Health promoter ideals serve as a kind of map. Remember ideals are universal but application toward them is individual! Take wise next steps unique to your own situation.
- Transformation by the PROCESS of continuous change. Your car can only travel a certain distance depending on your route and how much time you have to drive. Personal growth is similar. It takes time to integrate real change. Changing is often more complex then we suspect and it takes a couple of weeks to get a new habit started. We aren’t only changing behavior; we’re learning how to make wise application of ideals; we’re learning how wellness impacts our lives, and we’re learning how wellness supports our bigger strategy of being the person we know we need to be. There is more to learn about the process of personal growth in regards to health then we think. Maybe one of the most important lessons to internalize is that a health journey is personal growth! Expect it to behave that way…
Health is only a tool that helps us be the person we know we need to be and live the life only we can live. Learn to think broadly when you consider why you are healthy or ill. Are you grateful? Are you meaningfully connected with other people? Do you have people you can trust to know the good and broken parts of you? Are you able to forgive, so you don’t give away your power, become bitter, and ultimately lose responsibility for your life and health? If you can’t manage stress your trip will be disrupted.
A long book could be written about each of the 4 essentials above, but to sum up guidance for your new health journey I would say:
- Accumulating small changes over time is transformational.
- Just like an adventure game, the strength you need for the journey is gathered along the way. Just make a doable, wise next step.
- You must aim for perfect health habits and the best life you can imagine even though you may never achieve either. Ideals keep us on track as long as we make wise application toward them.
- Consider that the most important goals of your life are purposes outside and greater than yourself. Psychology is clear that focusing on self as our ultimate driver only leads to disconnection, frustration, and stress.
- When making a new change ask yourself: “Based on my past experience, my current circumstances, and my future goals, what is the wisest next step for me?”
Pack these 4 bags and have a safe and successful journey,