Last week we looked at the salutogenesis model in medicine compared to the pathology model. If you missed it, go there now as this week is a continuation of that post. What we un-covered in that post is that we cannot study disease to create health.
Let’s take a look at this model in a social context. When Mother Theresa was asked if she would participate in an anti-war demonstration, she was cited as saying that she would not join a march to denounce war. When asked why, she stated “I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.*”
Mother Theresa said that she would march for peace because she knew if her focus was on anti-war, it was still “on” war and it didn’t mean peace would be the outcome. She wanted to spend her energy on creating peace.
In last week’s post we noticed that when asked to NOT think about something, we end up thinking about it.
So we want to change our thinking. And change is part of growing and living. As I’ve said before, “Change is nature’s way of making progress”.
As Gail Sheehy said, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we aren’t really living”**
If we think about it from a biological standpoint, living plants and animals have an inherent force or a “life force” which as an effect we call life. It is this “something” that animates material into life on an ongoing basis for the duration of the life cycle of that organism.
For example, given the right conditions, an acorn makes an oak tree or a sperm and egg combine then replicate to form a baby. Through the life cycle of living things, they take and give. The oak tree takes carbon dioxide from the air, absorbs water, light and nutrients from the soil. The oak tree then gives off oxygen for us to breath.
Ideal environments exist for each particular plant or organism to thrive, whether it is an oak tree, fish, or human. This is the case if there’s no interference with conditions so the living “thing” has the best chance to grow and thrive.
Now being a realist, things happen. We are rarely living full time in ideal environments so problems begin to occur. We experience upsets, stress, adversity, we do not eat well, we sit for hours on end, breathe polluted air, and do immeasurable other things. The point is that we are rarely in an ideal environment 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. So we end up with baggage and that shifts our potential set point from optimal.
For this reason, it is good practice to keep a daily, diligent eye on the strategies and habits that allow us to live as our potential. We want to keep our eye on the prize of optimal living so we can be more and do more and give more. Not because we want to get back to normal, but because we want to go where we have not been before. The idea is to adapt as we move into the future with improvement.
Early in my practice, I struggled with patients who asked “Doc, put me back to where I was before”. My conversation with them went a bit like this: “If I put you back to where you were, won’t you likely end up back here again? What if there’s “more” for you? What if you could move your health into a whole new place?”
So, focus on what you want to create: What do you need to embrace to create that?
So, here is your homework…
Make a list of 5 to 10 health-promoting behaviors you can do right now.
Then star 1 to 3 that really connect with you…
For each of those areas starred, if you were to do this, what would that give you? (catch yourself if you find you are using a negative descriptor…reset the “quit smoking”, “less stress” or “lose weight”…as the focus is smoking and stress…)
Change your words to promote what you want to feel or experience. It may be more vitality or energy, connection, or creativity. Work through those starred areas one at a time over the course of a few days. Begin with one step. One small step so small you know you can achieve it. Begin it now and work towards creating the Best Version of You.™