My daughter-in-law, an avid reader of LifeTrek Provisions, occasionally sends me material for review and comment. A column by Frank Bruni of the New York Times, titled “Be Merry, Not Ancient“, cannot go unchallenged.
Bruni’s thesis is that he would rather be happy now than healthy later. “Do we really want as many years as we can get, no matter how we get them?” Bruni asks rhetorically. “At what point does the pursuit of an extended life — a pursuit that pivots on the debatable assumption that habit can outwit heredity, not to mention chance — become the entire business of a life? Is longevity all it’s cracked up to be?”
Bruni argues no, especially if longevity means giving up life’s pleasures. “If living to 99 means forever cutting the porterhouse into eighths, swearing off the baked potato, and putting the martini shaker into storage, then 85 sounds a whole lot better,” Bruin concludes, “and I’d ratchet that down to 79 to hold onto the Hï¿½agen-Dazs, along with a few shreds of spontaneity. It’s a matter of priorities.”
The suggestion that health and happiness, longevity and spontaneity, are either-or choices and at odds with each other is not my experience. Indeed, the more engaged I have become with healthy habits, the happier I have become in life and work. In fact, the healthy habits themselves have become a source of happiness. The two go nicely together.
That is why our Wellness Pathways frame the pursuit of health as a happy, enjoyable, and fun experience. We don’t focus on the denial of what we cannot have or do; we rather focus on the celebration of what we can have or do. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, and lean, wild meats are yum-yum foods. So, too, with exercise. It makes a body happy to move.
So, yes, Mr. Bruni, it is important to enjoy life. But it is a false dichotomy to suggest that we cannot enjoy life at the same as we follow the recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. What’s good for life is not incompatible with the good life. The more we get into health, the happier we become. And the more we get into happiness, the healthier we become.
Until we come to see and experience things in this way, healthy habits will elude our grasp. We may try them for a while, but we will soon give them up. Will power is not powerful enough to carry us through from the cradle to the grave. Everything shifts, however, when we learn to enjoy what’s good for life. That’s when longevity and felicity merge in common cause of a life worth living.
Coaching Inquiries: What healthy habits do you practice? Have you found ways to make them an enjoyable part of life? How could you ramp up your enjoyment of healthy habits? Who could join on the trek of life?
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
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