I, most sincerely, believe that health should be the top priority in one’s life.
Perhaps it doesn’t sound too risky of a statement to put out there, but when it gets right down to it, when we get completely honest with ourselves, it may become threatening to our lifestyle.
How often do we make choices in life that place the impact on health second to other concerns?
How often do we enter into, or stay in, relationships (friendships or romantic) that we know aren’t good for us?
Or – here’s a big one – How often do we choose, or stay in, jobs that don’t allow us enough time (or energy) to exercise, to move our bodies to prevent disease, as mentioned in the article Even With Regular Exercise, People With Inactive Lifestyles More at Risk for Chronic Diseases?
Sitting at a desk for eight hours isn’t healthy, yet so many are in that position – health takes a back seat, and there’s the controversy.
Can we really make health the most important thing in life? Is it possible to be healthy, feel truly happy while preventing disease, and still pay bills and put food on the table?
On the surface, these needs seem to conflict, as evidenced by the vast numbers of people accepting greater risk to health for a job or career that slowly saps them of life and vitality. It would seem that sacrifices and compromises must be made and that health is so often one of those.
As with so many such interesting ponderings, though, I believe that if you take a closer look, if you truly, sincerely, investigate that belief and the reality born from it, you may be surprised.
To start with, there is a basic assumption being made, though possibly subconsciously. That belief is that we’ll be happy with the money we make from the job that takes so much time and energy (robbing personal health of those precious commodities). Or we’ll be happy with the things we buy with the money we make, or we’ll find happiness in some future state that the current suffering will bring us.
Or, maybe, we think staying in a bad relationship is “worth it” because of the nature of the happiness it provides. Or we think eating whatever we want is freedom and that will make us feel good…
The variations are endless, but the underlying idea is that the things we do that push health to the back seat are so often done because they seem to promise that we’ll feel good or be happy.
That lie has been around for a long time and appears in so many of our world’s philosophies and religions. It boils down to a belief that satisfying desires will, well, lead to the satisfaction of desires.
There is forever that temptation that “If I just do _______, then I will feel happy.” “I just need: a night out, a week off, a hamburger and fries, a drink, a job that pays a lot, a big house, another car…”
The simple test of this belief is to look how you feel after. Did you find happiness, real happiness?
Most often, satisfying such desires leads to a shallow and fleeting sense of happiness or peace. It doesn’t run very deep in the soul, and it only lasts a very short time. Then, we need another night/weekend/week off, another drink, another raise, more furnishings for our bigger house, a newer car…
All the while, we put health second to fulfilling those desires.
So the first thing we learn upon deeper inquiry is that there may very well be a false assumption that that for which we are sacrificing our health will bring us true and lasting peace or happiness.
Fulfilling desires does not lead to the end of desires. Taking that job that doesn’t really allow space in our schedule for enough exercise because it will makes us enough money to be happy probably isn’t going to work out. More money just doesn’t lead to happiness.
Taking some time off is a great thing, but if you continually need to take large chunks of time off, or always absolutely need weekends off, you’re probably just venting tension and stress, which feels good, but isn’t actual happiness (same thing with going out, drinking and staying up late – something about it feels good, but it brings neither peace, nor happiness).
Meanwhile we’ve compromised our health.
Now, coming from a whole different angle, I would propose that health is the one thing in life that can improve the quality of everything else in life. By making it your top priority, you increase the overall enjoyment of everything you do.
Though I could make arguments, I actually think this is a common enough experience that people just need to be reminded of it. When we feel good, actually feel good – as in after a good night’s rest, or recovering from an illness and now appreciating what good health feels like – everything is better.
And, bonus, when we’re in that place and “bad” things happen, it doesn’t affect us nearly as much, water off the duck’s back, as it were.
Maybe at some point in your life you had a really good exercise routine; you were feeling good! Chances are you were much better able to deal with negative events in life.
When you are healthy, all of life is better.
As we bring that into awareness, as we fully realize that, and hold that awareness, life will start adjusting itself.
Well, we make thousands of choices a day, many of which we are barely conscious of. Those choices are made based on certain beliefs about life. Our beliefs, then – what we understand about the world – powerfully influences the choices we make and the direction of our life.
Where we come to understand that doing those things in life to bring that superficial and temporary peace is not worth it, and that, when we put health first, everything in life gets better, we start making choices based on that understanding. The “how” simply unfolds.
Hold attention and awareness through the day and that wisdom will automatically assert itself. When you are offered that promotion and raise at work and that tingling excitement of what that extra money could do for you starts burning, the deeper wisdom will surface. You will know that another car will not actually make you happy, and that the sacrifice in sleep required for the increased duties, will actually detrimentally affect all aspects of your life. And the decision is easy (or, at least, easier). (Of course, not all promotions are bad :)).
It’s tempting to get caught up in that “how” of changing our life for the better. How do we make health the top priority? The answer doesn’t come by way of giving you an answer, but instead by way of leading you to realizing the truth. When you know these things, spoken of above, truly know them, and when you maintain that awareness through the day, and not lose sight of it in all the tumultuousness of the day, then the answers come.
As clichéd as it is, the answers come from within.
You simply have to look, investigate closely, for the reality of things. Knowledge and real wisdom of how to be truly happy and peaceful (= healthy) will become obvious.