Magic Bullets

Because of my current career and my previous work in marketing research, I take notice of the continual proliferation, via the media, of drug advertisements. Will a company ever develop a pill to counteract the hype associated with some of these medications while simultaneously alerting us to the reality that we, as a society, are overmedicated?

The attraction of many prescription drugs is their promise of providing a magic bullet—the pill that will cure everything. Doesn’t this remind you of the snake oil peddlers of the past hawking their magic elixirs? It’s not much of leap from these peddlers of old to the slick television and print ads of today beckoning us to get a prescription from our doctor for illnesses/conditions we never knew existed.  I’m sorry if I’m the one to break the news, but just as a magic elixir didn’t exist, neither does a magic bullet.

For me, just hearing the various potential side effects of current prescription drugs, such as suicidal thoughts, hostility, depression, abnormal dreams (what are they exactly?), and even death, would make me think twice the next time my doctor wanted to write me a new script or two.

In an earlier post, I mentioned a marketing research project I worked on for a pharmaceutical company. They wanted participants who were at risk for type II diabetes and who were controlling their symptoms with diet and exercise. Guess what? We couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was already on medication.

How did we become a society focused on illness rather than health? Why do we give control of our health to little blue, white, green, or whatever color pills? Please realize, I recognize there are times when a prescription medication is necessary and appropriate, but there are times when we need to take control of our health and wellness. Related to this, please see my post of May 21, Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?

From my perspective, talk to your doctor about the feasibility of making healthy lifestyle changes first (as my client wanted with the type II diabetes study) before popping a pill(s) and falling prey to their potential scary side effects.

At this moment, let’s start a new movement—thinking in terms of health instead of disease. Will you join me?

Ripple-Effect

For some reason, we usually only emphasize what we see as negative aspects of ourselves—“I need to lose weight,” “I need to eat less,” “I need to start exercising.” Such proclamations reinforce the belief “I’m no good” and compound the guilt we feel if we believe we’ve “failed” once again.

Why do we continually do this to ourselves? Why do we choose to abuse ourselves in this fashion? I support anyone’s desire to improve their health and wellbeing.  I also believe that in order to do so we must break this be-hard-on-yourself, beat-yourself-up cycle. How can we accomplish this?

One simple way to begin is by examining your routines. We are creatures of habit. Habitual behaviors help simplify our lives. For example, do you ever think, “I don’t remember how I got here,” after you pull into a parking space at work?  Yet our autopilot modes can result in unconscious patterns that can also unknowingly drain our energy. One way to combat this is to pause and take a different point of view.

Step outside of your comfort zone and ask yourself if your habits are beneficial, or do they hindering you in any way. Ask: “What is and isn’t working for me in my life?” “Where do I feel change is needed?” “What would I love doing?” Even inquire, “Why do I want this?” and “Am I ready for it?” Discover the real reasons for your desire to change.

You’ll begin your process of transformation just by inquiring—don’t force answers. They will emerge on their own and when they do, use them to spark your personal transformation for achieving your optimal health and wellness. If answers don’t immediately arise, don’t stress—just enjoy the process.

Your desire for change must resonate within you, be specific, connect with things you love, and not done out of any sense of obligation to others. They should also fit the current realities of your life; the last thing you need in your life is additional stress.

Each choice you make, even a small one, will take you out of your habit mode and create a ripple-effect touching all areas of your life. Less is more. Begin by choosing one area of your life to change such as an aspect of either your mind, body, or self.

Be sure your present thinking reflects the future you desire. For example, switch from saying: “I want to lose 25 pounds and weigh 115 pounds,” to immediately stating: “I weigh 115 pounds.” Notice the change in your being with just this simple shift. You’ll be breaking your habitual thought processes while creating new mental patterns and connections.

Also, most people do not achieve their desired results because they are not specific with their goals. For example, don’t just say: “I’m going to exercise.” Be specific—“I’m going to exercise so I can play with my children/grandchildren,” or “I’m going to exercise so I can complete a 5K run.”

Then, begin easily and realistically. You’ll have a better chance for success if you discover what works for you, how it connects with your values, and how it reflects your purpose.

Do The Math

Coke

The above shot is from a weekly grocery store flier.

The detrimental information about the risks (weight gain, obesity, altering our body’s metabolism, diabetes, etc.) of sugary drinks is readily available, and public health campaigns also highlight them.

Look at the above ad and do the math:

5 x 2 Liters of Coca-Cola = 10 liters

5 x 1 Liter of Smartwater (brought to you by the Coca-Cola Company) = 5 liters

For the same amount of money, you get twice the amount of Coke.

I am not endorsing drinking either Coca-Cola or Smartwater.  I just find this ad to be a sad commentary on the state of our food industry today.

This Moment

In my last post, I wrote: “Through our continual dwelling on the past and the future we create the stories of our lives, and for most of us, we become trapped in either one or the other of these two realms with their false realities. Yet, our lives are happening right now in this moment, and we usually are unaware of it.”

Thus, during the day, enjoy the moments. Sure people, events, and things are going to annoy you. Acknowledge what you’re feeling and then, release it. Why let the person who cut you off in traffic ruin your morning or even your day (I can see my wife smile at this remark from me).

I used to go through many parts of my day by rote like taking my usual driving routes with the realization as I park my car—how did I get here? Because of such a routine, I’ve failed to notice the wildlife on back roads or been unaware of the leaves changing color for a number of days.

I am trying to become aware of the moment I’m in. For me it’s not easy.  As an example now when I exercise, I just go with how my body feels. Even on days when I really don’t want to exercise (yes, I have them), I just concentrate on how my body is moving and not my day.

And I try to take time to just be. Like just looking out the back door and reveling in nature. Were there always so many robins so late in the summer? Do the pinecones always start to fall this early in August?

I remember when I was younger sitting on our front porch; the perfect place to witness the approach of a thunderstorm as it travelled over the opposite field: the darkening clouds, the rippling of the high grass in the wind, the calm before the storm, seeing the wall of rain coming toward me, and finally reaching me. I wasn’t thinking about my chemistry test or getting together with my friends. I was just present. This is where our life truly is, in this moment.

Past, Present, Future—Where Do You Dwell?

I’m as guilty as everyone else—I can easily get hung up on the past. I’m trying to change; to, once and for all, leave behind the “I should haves,” “Why did I do that?” “Why didn’t I do that?” “I can’t believe she did that to me.” “I’ll never forgive them.” Please feel free to add your comments to mine, because, by acknowledging such phrases, we can realize how we are unconsciously tied to, lied to, and ruled by our past.

As the saying goes, “we can’t change the past,” and yet, what do we do? We choose to spend countless hours dwelling on, rehashing, and reliving it.   As much as we fixate on any past event, we’re never going to be able to change it. Despite this, we repeatedly beat ourselves up whenever we dwell our previous experiences.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m asking why do this to ourselves. At times we can have moments of clarity when we pause and realize how foolish we’re being—I like to say we’re all brilliant with hindsight.  Think about the time and energy you waste every time you dwell on and relive the past not to mention the additional stress such thinking creates. To what avail? I’m not advocating ignoring the past; it can provide valuable insight, if we use it correctly, into the why of our actions/reactions today.

Just as we know the past, we can’t know the future.   Yet, we look to it as our ideal: “In the future I’ll be: rich, famous, thin, successful, happy, etc., etc., etc.” Again, please feel free to insert your own phrases (you know you can). Through our continual dwelling on the past and the future we create the stories of our lives, and for most of us, we become trapped in either one or the other of these two realms with their false realities. Yet, our lives are happening right now in this moment, and we usually are unaware of it.

True, the past informs who we were, and the future will reflect who we are and what we do today. But they don’t define us. My suggestion, whenever these past/future moments arise, is to take a breath and approach them as an outsider, a neutral observer, someone without an emotional attachment. Again, just try to observe with no emotional involvement.

Use this moment to examine a past event; again, I’m not encouraging you to dwell on it. Think back to the last fight you had with your spouse or best friend. Chances are your reactions came from your perceptions of the situation as well as your ego. Now, take a step back from the “I was right, and they were wrong” mentality. Remember, we all have a right to hold different opinions, but to lay claim to the truth is a false assumption.

I always like to think of two of Byron Katie’s questions during such reflections: “Is it true?” followed by “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” Just by adding “absolutely” changes your answer. A point of view is just that—a point of view. It can be true, it can also be false, and yes, partially true. What is so important about being right or, for that matter, attacking someone who doesn’t share your outlook?

With the above thoughts in mind, take time to examine the cues that generated the fight. What were the circumstances surrounding the disagreement? Could the argument really have revolved around you being criticized by your boss at work or perhaps, being struck in traffic for an hour and a half?

Yet, we are apt to quickly blame the other person. At the time, did you pause to consider their perspective and their cues? Might they have just received troubling news or had to pay for an unexpected expense? Again, what I am asking us to do is take a step back, hit pause, release ourselves from our egos, let go of judgment, and our personal perceptions of the event.

By doing so you might discover a perspective you didn’t have at the time. You could realize your reactions came from a long-held belief that served you at some point in your life. But upon examination, you realize it no longer works for you.

The positive outcome—you let go of a belief that has been holding you back, adding additional stress to your life, and draining your energy.