It was the tortoise and not the quick hare that won the race in the well-known Aesop's fable. This showed that victory can come to those who although slow, maintain a steady pace and persevere. People can certainly take this lessen to heart in their quests for achievement in almost everything in life, including health and fitness. As a result of our fast-paced society with the world at our fingertips through technology, people tend to think there are also quick fixes to lose weight, build muscle, and generally just to feel happy and well. Wishing it were so does not change this. The fact of the matter is that good things in life take work and discipline and are achieved over time. The key is recognizing daily accomplishments, for we are always on a journey towards something, and when we fail to appreciate this, we miss the here and now.
With all the commercials on television for weight loss, it is clear that there is a big market with people needing to drop at least a few pounds. It is what most people immediately think of with the phrase "health and wellness." Why people are overweight or have related illnesses is rather ironic when there are so many resources available, including help in losing weight and such a variety of food throughout the year that our ancestors never had. In our minds of course, we know it comes down to portion size, eating whole and natural foods without all the processing and additives, drinking plenty of liquids, vitamin supplements, and a bit of regular exercise. It may be that we have the mindset of the hare, starting out strong and thinking we will get there jiffy-quick, and when we don't we give up and succumb to our old habits, rather than just being steady at a pace that we can maintain. Even though some sales gimmicks promise quick results, we know it's over the long haul that success comes. As far as the journey, most experts recommend celebrating the smaller successes along the way and the satisfaction that comes from being in control.
Physical fitness however is just one dimension of total health. People who are fit know that that alone does not alleviate problems and that they are just as susceptible to a lack of overall contentment. This is because there is some something deeper than what is physical; there exists less tangible areas within us. Our emotional, mental, and spiritual natures are the spheres that philosophers and prophets from all over the world have spoken of throughout the ages. When these areas are excluded or not in harmony, we don't feel our best. This often manifests itself physically such as sleep problems, headaches, lack of concentration, and weak immune systems. There is a negative effect on our moods, in relationships, at work, and so on. To achieve balance, experts remind us what we already know deep in our souls; that these other areas are so much more important than what is on the outside.
“Jump in with both feet” is a good mantra for overall health. (Photo by Meghan Deas-Halley)
Even though this is a new year, we know that every day is really the start of a new year or another opportunity. A great article called, "The Best is yet to be," expresses how we should have confidence in the future, which begins every moment. We may need to learn some things from the past, but then we need to look ahead. Whether the past was good or bad, if we dwell on it or are "perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future, then we miss the here and now and tomorrow because we are so trapped." With faith and confidence, we need to forgive others and ourselves of past mistakes and start fresh. We need to nourish our talents, get in tune with our spiritual side, work on eliminating negative thought patterns and criticism, practice patience, be kind and gentle, keep our word, give service to others, and recognize that working through problems is part of life. No one is exempt from this; it is how we grow where our weaknesses may actually become strengths. It is this harmony in our lives that is actually true health. It is when we will be able to avoid feelings of inadequacy or the opposite of feeling superior and self-centered, which is just as destructive.
With mind over matter, we can achieve many goals in all areas of health with progress made each and every day in the small but steady things we can do. Cultivating a positive attitude in the journey, we will be more open to seeing how the small and simple things are meaningful and be grateful for the blessings that surround us in many seemingly ordinary things. A great example of this is from the play, "Our Town." Emily, who has died in childbirth, wishes to go back to one ordinary and unimportant day. Her wish granted, it is then that she realizes how much she took for granted while alive, so much so that she can hardly bear it. Things like clocks ticking, her mama's sunflowers, good food, hot baths, newly ironed dresses, and just sleeping and waking up are not appreciated by the living. Rushing through life, Emily sees how they miss out on the simple joys, which is what nourishes the soul.
So, as the new year progresses, remember complete wellness or health goes beyond the physical realm. From contemporary and time-honored great teachers, we can learn to take care of our mental, emotional, and spiritual makeup as well. We can actually choose to feel good more often. No day should be a wasted or considered insignificant. Happiness should not be put on hold. The wonder in the ordinary, even mundane, should be welcomed. Enthusiastically jump into life with both feet. Make it a good week and thanks for reading, Mary
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