October is here. The air is crisp, leaves are falling, and the smell of pumpkin spice swirls out of every coffee shop and bakery. Sweaters and Uggs are making a comeback as thoughts turn to football, Halloween costumes, and chili in the crockpot. Autumn is all about the harvest. A gathering of crops from the field in preparation for the long winter. A settling down from the excitement of summer, returning to school schedules and daily routines. Harvest reminds us that we reap what we sow and thus provides the perfect opportunity for some reflection.
Any good farmer will tell you that in order to grow a healthy, nutritious crop, you must have healthy, nutritious soil. Thus, an integral component of harvest is soil assessment – determining ingredients to promote soil quality. As we endeavor to harvest health this October, it behooves us to examine our “soil” – our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors related to health. Some “soil” questions we might explore:
What are my beliefs about healthy living? Are they reasonable or irrational?
What are my beliefs about change? Are they attainable or unrealistic?
Does my attitude promote resistance to change? Or am I flexible and gracious?
What small, incremental behavior changes can I make each week?
Our beliefs and attitude can set us up for success or failure before we even begin. In order to tip the scales toward success, we must ensure that our thinking is fertile ground for growth and change. Here are a few truths about healthy living and lifestyle change that we often don’t consider:
- Body awareness is key to determining daily needs.
- Mind and body have bidirectional communication. Thus, the better your body feels the better your perspective, the better your perspective the better your body feels.
- Balance is something that we create each day.
- Short-term, immediate gratification goals lead to successful long-term outcomes.
- Good health is about lifestyle choices more than genetics.
- Stress must be followed by recovery.
- Health is unique to each individual.
- Criticism is not a good motivator. Health thrives in the context of compassion, consistency, and encouragement.
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about life, the struggle with finding balance, and the difficulty in staying on track toward goals. My friend is a pilot. He shared that when you fly a 747 from point A to point B the path is not a straight line. Rather it is a constant back-and-forth, a gentle course correction around this invisible guide. Such is the path towards health. A steady course correction around this idea of an ideal. A moving target requiring awareness, daily evaluation, and gentle persistence. A daily invitation to show up, listen, and do the next right thing. Health is not a destination; it is a dynamic journey.
As we walk the path of healthy living, let us strive to sow success by embracing constructive beliefs, encouraging attitudes, and one simple behavioral change at a time. And, may we all reap longevity, happiness, and (more than) a little fun along the way.
–Heather Coate, MA, LPC