Before you eat, ask yourself,”Am I Hungry?” Before you act, ask yourself, “Am I Happy?” Those were the lasttwo tips in this series of transformational questions. Want to take that onestep further? Ask yourself, “Am I Healthy?”
Healthy introduces anotherlevel of consideration. One may think of oneself as happy and yet be living orworking in a hazardous environment, practicing an injurious habit, sufferingfrom an undiagnosed condition, treating others with disrespect, experiencingstress, stagnating mentally, or lacking a wholesome sense of meaning andpurpose. In other words, one can become content with one’s predicament –regardless of how damaging and detrimental that predicament may be.
I ought to know. There was atime, not too many years ago, when I was obese and consumed with my work. Myblood pressure was high along with all the other indicators for cardiovascularproblems. My fingernails were bit down to the quick. Managing conflict was aregular, rather than an exceptional, part of life. Eating was a tremendouscomfort, especially high-fat, high-calorie foods. In short, my health was atime bomb with a very short fuse • and the fuse was lit. But was I happy? Youbet. Or so I thought.
People would talk to me aboutmy predicament and I would laugh it off with the invulnerability of anadolescent. Maybe other people couldn’t handle a thousand calories of saturatedfat a day, but I could eat all the doughnuts, Buffalo wings, and butter Iwanted. Maybe other people couldn’t handle a steady stream of criticism anddissension, but I thrived on holding people and things together even if thatmeant working and worrying 24-hours a day. You get the idea. Perhaps you orsomeone you know lives with similar illusions.
Finally my body and my friendsspoke in ways that forced me to listen. I had to move beyond “Am I Happy?” tothe deeper question “Am I Healthy?” The answer, in a word, was “No.”
The World Health Organizationdefines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-beingand not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” On that basis, we all havea ways to go.
I like the holistic andpositive nature of this definition. Michael O’Donnell has written that optimalhealth represents a balance of five health areas: physical (fitness, nutrition,medical self-care, control of substance abuse), emotional (stress management,care for emotional crises), social (friends, families, communities),intellectual (education, career development, achievement), and spiritual (love,hope, charity, purpose). (“Definition of Health Promotion,” American Journalof Health Promotion, Summer 1996)
Ayurvedic medicine works withthe same holistic understanding that no single agent by itself causes diseaseor brings health. One must nurture the whole person if one hopes to capture thevitality of being healthy.
“Am I Healthy?” That is alife-sustaining, life-enhancing question. When I first started to lose weight,I asked myself a different question. “How many calories does this have?” Youcan only count calories for so long. That’s why so many people can lose weightbut cannot keep it off. Now I ask myself the question, “Is this healthy?” “Isthis good for me?” “Do I really want to eat this?” Becoming health conscioushas made all the difference in the world.
“Am I Healthy?” You would beamazed at the many little and big things this question will provoke. Askyourself that question throughout the day and night. Am I healthy at work? Athome? At play? On the inside? On the outside? Am I healthy in my body, mind,and Self? If you’re happy but not healthy, you may be fooling yourself. You maybe in a rut. And it may be time to make a change for life.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC