The Most Epic Journey
I’ll save you the suspense--the most epic journey does not end well, yet it is not a tragedy either. The most epic journey is our journey through life. The journey we are all on has many twists and turns, many different experiences with places and people that give each of our stories extraordinary characteristics that enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. Along this journey of life, we must first realize that it has a beginning and an end. We often avoid thinking about the end and our destiny with a pine box, pushing up daisies.
Dr. Steven Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, describes two habits. His second habit is “start with the end in mind,” which comes directly after the first habit: “be proactive.” Thinking about starting with the end in mind often means having a goal, but it can also mean realizing that there is finality to things and eventually time will run out. Of course no one wants his or her time to be cut short; we should plan to live to be at least 100 years old, considering anything after that a bonus. Living to be 100, however, takes planning and preparation. Following the first habit means we must be proactive and make healthy choices to allow us to accomplish our goal of living to 100.
Our journey ends with death, but we want our time between birth and death to be rewarding and fulfilling, not plagued with pain or sickness and unfulfilled life potential. I call this squaring the curve. If you think about a line graph representing our life, where the X axis is time and the Y axis is our life vitality, we want to live a life that is healthy and full of purpose until the end, where the graph stops, and then makes a 90-degree turn downward; hence squaring off the curve. The opposite of squaring the curve is a graph of life making a slow downward decline over our last 40 or 50 years, sloping all the way to the bottom. At the end of our life, we have no vitality or purpose and are wasting away like a person with Alzheimer’s disease until we finally are no more.
Our choices determine our path through life--where we work, where we live, who our friends are and how we spend our time. The choices we make about our health will also affect our path through life and our potential to square the curve of our life graph. Health is a balance of our physical, physiological and psychological aspects of our being. In Applied Kinesiology we call this the triad of health. An equilateral triangle is balanced on all sides; in a healthy individual all three aspects of health must also be balanced. If any one of the sides of the health triangle is not balanced the structural integrity becomes compromised. From a health perspective this imbalance then becomes dis-ease (the opposite of ease).
Disease or dis-ease truly means that the organism can no longer function in homeostasis (balance), and has to compensate for the areas of imbalance in order to stay alive as long as possible. This is the process of adaptation. As human beings, we are very good at adapting to different stresses. but this does not always work in favor of our health. If we have to adapt for too long, our body eventually will realize it is unsustainable to continue down that pathway and then we become dis-eased.
The first side of the triad is our structural health. In Bozeman, we have many opportunities to be active. Our body is designed to move. Movement is controlled by nerves, and movement also sends nerve signals back to the brain to communicate where our body is in space. Being flexible and having the ability to move through full ranges of motion is a key component to living a long life. If your hips and knees no longer work and you can no longer sit on a toilet, you then get placed in a nursing home because you can no longer take care of yourself. Healthy movement must be worked on regularly, taking time to exercise, stretch, and move your body will serve you well in your later days.
The second side of the triangle is our body’s physiology. Our body is a walking test tube with thousands of chemical reactions happening to keep us alive. Those reactions affect our digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients, balancing our neurotransmitters and hormones, and detoxifying our body. If our body chemistry changes and we can no longer do the physiological tasks our body requires, we become sick. Examples of this are irritable bowel syndrome, hormone imbalance like irregular periods or hot flashes, or neurological disorders like ADD or bipolar disorder. Keeping your body physiology balanced is easier said than done in our society; however the most basic, simplest, non-invasive way to keep your body balanced is to eat a healthy well-balanced diet full of nutrient dense foods like proteins, vegetables, and good fats. Avoid sugars, carbs, and processed foods as much as possible.
The last side of the triad of health is the mental/emotional balance and the acupuncture meridian balance of our body. Our body’s energy also affects how our body functions. If we are angry or upset, often it will change our stress profiles and increase cortisol. Too much of the stress hormone cortisol will have effects on our hormonal health and our metabolism. Likewise, all the other emotions of the body will have systemic effects and can change our body’s function. Think of how body language changes when a person is sad, happy, or angry. We can often tell how a person feels by observing his or her posture.
Like any good adventure, we need to enjoy the journey. The journey is the fun part. When you get where you’re going, there is a feeling of accomplishment, but when you stop and recall the story of the adventure the most exciting part is what you had to do to get there. Remember that today is the present. The future is a dream and the past was a learning experience to move us forward with knowledge to make a better tomorrow. If you start each day thinking about what it will take to be alive when you turn 100 years old, your choices about staying healthy will be much easier, and you too will live more healthy, more naturally, and more optimally.