If I were to ask people on the street what an objective definition of a healthy lifestyle is, they would likely answer that it has to do with eating healthy food and exercising, getting good sleep, drinking lots of water, and finding a balance between work life and down time. If we lived that healthy lifestyle, it is also likely that we would, in turn, feel healthy. Logic stands: Live a healthy lifestyle, feel healthy.
Why do so many of us pretend not to know it?We pretend not to know some of the simplest wisdoms, tried and true. Rather, we look to the latest trends, the most recent book or today’s popular gimmick to tell us what is healthy for us. Aren’t we able to notice what our own body and mind are telling us when we eat one thing over another or engage in one activity over another? Can’t we tell what agrees and doesn’t agree with our own body and mind?
We have different ideas of what it means to be healthy, of course, and we have different mechanisms by which we feel healthier, but true for all of is that through a process of contrast, otherwise known as trial-and-error, we can develop for ourselves as individuals what is best for us.
My subjective definition of what it means to be healthy – strictly for me – has to do with limit setting. In order for me to protect my healthy lifestyle and to enjoy the benefits of it, I need to make sure I am minding my own business and not getting overly involved in other people’s lives. We might call that healthy containment, appropriate detachment, or good boundaries.
There are layers to healthy living. Physical health may be the first order of business but once we get to a reasonable degree of that in our lives, we likely look to getting healthier psychologically and spiritually through the decluttering of our thoughts from more negative to positive, or by refocusing back to gratitude rather than comparison and complaint.
It all comes back to that medical term I mention in these blogs – INTEROCEPTION – because again, the magic key that opens the stubborn door to greater health more of the time depends upon our capacity to notice how we feel inside our bodies when we are in balance, when we are at our equilibrium, when we feel okay, all right, or good. We may not be swinging from the chandeliers – that is easier to notice because it is extreme – but we need to be able to notice the subtleties in life, the gradients in between the extremes, the feeling okay, all right or fine. How good can we get at noticing and appreciating, even savoring that middle ground? What’s it going to take for us to get good at that?
If we are paying attention to the invaluable contributions of modern neuroscience these days, the answer is PRACTICE. Even if all we are paying attention to is the common sense of how things seem to be working in the world, we will see that the people who get good at things are the people who are practicing them. So let’s start practicing. Let’s get better at noticing okay, all right and fine. Let’s train our attention out of needing extremes in order for us to be able to notice. Let’s become aware of that simple yet profoundly important inner state of not miserable, not ecstatic, but okay and alright. Believe it or not, according to every source I’m getting my hands on, it’s the ticket to well-being.