As the year comes to a close, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the past year’s events, both personal and public, and look forward to our future. What does it really mean to make New Year’s resolutions? Are they fantasies that we create to allow us to continue indulging in certain behaviors that may be self-destructive yet give momentary pleasure? Or do they actually contain within a promise to make serious change in our lives to achieve true happiness?
While the path toward true happiness and, ultimately, a better quality of life does require work, it should also reaffirm all the things that enhance our lives, and acknowledge just what it means to be human. Life presents a series of difficult challenges, which can drain our energies, and make us feel bad, both emotionally and physically. But if we take the time to do a little work on ourselves regularly (if not daily), then we are not only more likely to to achieve something concrete, but we can also contribute more to the people who are important to us. Here are some small suggestions that can add up to a better you.
Exercise every day. Stretch, walk, do some Tai Chi or Chi Gong, swim, dance or climb a mountain! If you have a serious disability, then exercise your mind with meditation. It is only by using what we have, and what we can use, that we can make our best effort to avoid atrophy and disease. Research has shown time and again that being sedentary contributes to a myriad of health problems, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and many forms of cancer. Daily movement not only helps to prevent them, but also makes you feel better emotionally, and can reduce stress. (Secret side-note: be sure that you’re doing something you enjoy!)
Eat a larger quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables. While many of our patients are aware of the benefits of healthy eating, many of us continue to eat the same foods repeatedly, with larger portions of meat than we actually need. Many of us are concerned about getting enough protein in our diet, when we should instead be more concerned about not consuming enough dietary fiber—that is, fiber from whole foods, as opposed to fiber from a pill or shake. Not only does fiber provide us with healthier bowel movements, and clear excessive heat from our systems, but research has shown vegetable fiber to be prebiotic in nature. In other words, it feeds the beneficial parts of our internal microbiome, which in turn gives back to our bodies.
Ask for help. While this may seem counter-intuitive to some people, to seek out help and acknowledge one’s own weaknesses or lack of knowledge does, in fact, make one stronger. No (wo)man is an island, as the saying goes. Human beings are social creatures. By reaching out to others in times of need, such as when you are sick, emotionally distraught, lonely or in some kind of pain, you embrace your social nature and make yourself more complete. Sometimes this may involve coming to see one of us at the Tao of Wellness for an acupuncture session, or registering for a Chi Gong or yoga class. Recognizing the pain of others, and being acknowledged while in pain ourselves—this is one of the greatest gifts that we can give each other and ourselves.