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June 14, 2019

How are YOU?

How do you feel today? Chances are you answered quickly with something like “I’m fine”. “This is how I normally feel, and so I’m fine. I got up, I got out of bed, and everything seems to be working. So I must be fine”. Right?

Let’s try that again. Take a moment and ask yourself “how do I really feel today”? Perhaps this second time your answers began to be a little more detailed, little more nuanced, and a little more honest. You may have noticed that twinge in your knee but said to yourself “I’ve had this for months and this is how I normally feel”. Perhaps your stomach was a little unhappy and gurgling, but again you said to yourself that that is normal for you. Maybe it’s your sinuses that are a little plugged, or that nagging cough you’ve had for a few weeks (or months!), or you just felt a little tired and listless.

Most of us have something that’s not quite right with us when we get up each day but we choose to ignore it. We either decide that it’s no use complaining because complaining is not going to change anything and no-one really cares anyway. Or we rationalize it away saying that that is just the normal condition for our age, situation, gender or some other gross generalization. We have chosen deny there is any issue at all or to accept that this is “normal” and we just have to accept the way we are.

There is an old anecdote that I have used many times to discuss this plague on our lives that talks about frogs and pots of water. Before I tell the story, I want to reassure you that I have never tried this personally or seen it done. The story begins with a happy frog sitting in a pot of cool water cheerfully oblivious to the fact that the pot is sitting on a stove. The stove is turned on and the water begins to slowly heat but the frog remains seemingly oblivious to the slow, subtle change in water temperature sitting happily in his now warm bath. This continues until it is too late, and the water begins to boil and kills the poor frog.

It is, I know, a horrible story and I’m sorry if I offended you by it. But think about what would have happened if that same frog had been dropped into a pot of already hot water. That frog would immediately have recognized that this is not right and jumped straight out of the pot back to safety and health.

We also are often oblivious to the slow subtle changes that happen in our lives. One of the most common of these is our weight. Slowly but surely as the years pass our waistlines start to expand, the firm flesh that once covered our bones begins to soften and sag. But it’s such a slow process, often taking years, with no idea of how we got here and how to reverse that process. It happens in our bodies as things that were once easy, like putting your socks and shoes on while standing up, become more and more difficult or more and more painful, or even impossible.

It happens in our minds where our youthful curiosity about everything slowly turns into boredom over the “same old same old”. Have you ever watched a three or four-year-old find a rock during the walk? What may look to you identical to the bajillion other rocks suddenly strikes this child as an amazing, beautiful, and unique creation. When was the last time you stopped to really look at a rock, or a leaf, or a flower and see the beauty and wonder there in front of us every day?

It happens in our hearts where our natural instincts to share, to be generous, and to love are crushed under the weight of our daily lives. As we slowly accumulate more and more “stuff” we become less and less willing to share that “stuff” that we worked so hard to get. The busier we get the more isolated and alone we get. So slowly our hearts harden and shut out the love and joy that we are surrounded by as we withdraw into our own little worlds.

Such a sad scenario, and so unnecessary. We tend to treat our things, our “stuff”, so much better than we treat ourselves. When we hear a funny noise coming from the engine of our car we quickly take it in to get it serviced. If, god forbid, our air conditioner begins to cool less effectively we waste no time in getting a technician to come over and fix it. If our carefully tended lawns begin to show brown patches we begin frantic Google searches or trips to Home Depot to find the right fertilizer or pesticide or new seed to make it look right again.

If we respond that quickly to problems with our “stuff” then why are we so slow when it comes to taking care of ourselves? Which is more important?

The beginning of the solution to this situation is really quite simple. Taking care of yourself begins by asking yourself “how am I?”. We cannot begin to improve or fix what we have not first noticed about ourselves. If we continue to ignore feeling unwell than that is how we will continue to feel. We cannot change what we have not seen.

In business there is an old adage that you cannot manage what you cannot measure, and the corollary to that is you cannot measure what you have not noticed. We begin our personal journey to wellness by paying attention and trying to see with clear, open, and honest eyes. It’s okay to see that we are not perfect. There is great good in seeing what is, at this moment, not so good for then we can begin to change.

To begin your journey back to health, wholeness, and happiness you must start by paying attention to yourself each and every day. Before you get deeply into your day, perhaps over your 1st cup of tea or coffee, do a personal inventory. Scan your body, your mind, your heart, and even your spirit with honesty and acceptance. Keep a record by creating a journal where every day you capture both what feels wonderful and what doesn’t feel so wonderful. You will probably soon begin to notice trends or patterns in what you have written down, things that make you happy every day or things that hurt every day. You can then use those to build a plan to support those things which make you feel good and change the things that hurt you.

The changes may be simple or complicated. They may be easy to accomplish in a day or may require months and years of persistent work, but your journal will mark the progress and provide much, if not all, of the reinforcement you need to continue on this journey to health. Sharing this information with those you love and care about can be great for you and them. It can both help them understand and support you, and may also encourage them to begin to really “see” themselves and start their own journey back to health.

So, how are YOU today?




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