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Posted on 11-03-2016

Are You Living Well or Hardly Living?

Lifestyle is defined as the way a person lives or the art of living.  In a greater sense, it simply means having a purpose for each action we make, each relationship we have, and each day we live.  When people think of health, sickness and disease what they are really talking about is lifestyle.  Our health directly impacts our lifestyle choices and our ability to enjoy a high quality of life.  It’s often only when our health declines to the point it significantly impacts some part of our lifestyle that we decide to do anything about it.  However, health is more than simply not having any debilitating disease or acute sickness.  Health is about the optimal functioning of our body, mind and soul.  Sickness and disease happen along a continuum where at one end of the spectrum is optimal health and the other end is death.  In between the two extremes lay various levels of sickness and disease.  People often think they are healthy until the day they experience an obvious symptom such as pain, digestive issues, breathing problems, or the loss of a body function.  The truth of the matter is that the person’s health was already somewhere down the continuum far away from health long before the obvious symptoms arose.  Most of the early warning signs seem minor or insignificant and can appear as benign as feeling more tired, having stiff muscles, feeling a little less vibrant, experiencing mental fogginess, not moving quite as well, and feeling a little emotionally down.  We often shrug off these early signs as simply “old age” or life catching up with us.  But these early signs of declining health are important to listen to and to address in the early stages rather than waiting for a complete breakdown to occur.  The farther down the continuum our health travels towards the opposite end, the longer and tougher the process of regaining optimal health becomes.

One way to determine the health of a person is to observe how the person’s body or mind is adapting to the environment by adding a stressor.  Any stressor in life will force the body and mind to adapt as best it can.  Emotional stressors, for example, will cause us to adapt emotionally and will quickly identify our weak or dysfunctional adaptation skills.  Similarly, by adding a physical stressor such as making the body perform a particularly challenging movement pattern, we can quickly identify a physical dysfunction and how our body may be protecting a weak or unstable area that isn’t necessarily causing pain yet.  Stressors, challenging circumstances, and crisis situations help us to identify weak, unstable or dysfunctional problem areas that need to be addressed.  As Bruce Lee once said, “Notice that the stiffest tree is the most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”  The wind, or for us a challenging situation, reveals both our strengths and our weaknesses.  As much as we hope that these challenging situations never arise, they will arise for each of us at various times in our life.  The ability to adapt properly when these situations arise is what constitutes physical, emotional and spiritual health and well-being.  In addition to revealing our strengths and weaknesses, stressors and crisis situations also work to help us become stronger and better able to adapt the next time a challenging event occurs.

As we age, our body naturally becomes less responsive and able to adapt to stressors which is why an illness that a younger person quickly bounces back from can be fatal to an elderly person.  How we can counteract this natural aging process and slow this decline is by actively challenging the body and mind in healthy ways each and every day.  The old adage that if we don’t use something we’ll lose it is a true statement.  The second thing we must do is honestly identify our weaknesses and dysfunctional patterns and work to correct them rather than wait until a complete breakdown of the body or mind occurs.  By being proactive with our life, we can better experience optimal physical, emotional and spiritual health and well-being and live the lifestyle we desire to pursue and enjoy the relationships we choose to have.       


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