Looking after oneself

I often think about what prevents people from observing basic preventative nutrition and health-conscious living in general. Most people in western societies have the means to eat well and look after themselves nutritionally for example, only very few lack the resources to buy a good range of fresh fruits and vegetables and to generally observe a balanced, not overly processed diet consisting of decent quality foods. Why do so many make the most elementary mistakes when it comes to looking after oneself, nutritionally and in general? These are important questions to answer if one wishes to make a difference in this regard and disseminate useful knowledge pertaining to any element of healthy living. Many factors contribute to this problem and I think it is the most realistic to see and address the issue as holistically as possible.

Our health is fundamental to how one can live one’s life, the more one’s health is compromised, the less one is able to develop and expand; to live life.  Good health provides the foundation for long term enjoyment of and participation in what this world offers and of true happiness. Thus considerations of health are inherently long-term; we must view our health with a life-long perspective and act accordingly, if we wish to maintain it.

People who abuse their bodies for short-term ‘satisfaction’ or ‘fun,’ where the damage done severely outweighs the positives, seem to usually have lost or indeed never found their perspective of what is of substance in life. Incidentally these are usually among the most unhappy people. People damaging their bodies by drinking excessively, taking drugs or smoking, taking ridiculous risks and inflicting unjustifiable injuries on themselves etc…are squandering the gift of their body for momentary thrills and distractions. I think anyone would agree that fulfillment cannot be found in any such way. So why is it done? The only view I feel truly offers an explanation is that people sacrificing their health, the foundation of long-term fulfillment and happiness, for short-term thrills and distractions have lost sight of how their meaning, their purpose, their happiness is indeed to be experienced.

This means different things to different people, however there are certain constants which are always necessities of a fulfilling life, such as the degree to which we can share love which others, the foundation for all spiritual pursuits, the degree to which we are able to contribute to the world around us and make meaningful impacts on the lives of others; whether that’s through successfully raising a family, fighting for a cause, doing social work, educating etc…We are are part of the world and the more we help others the more we expand our self. Isolation of any form is an illusion, and the less one acts according to the mistaken belief that one’s own needs are more important than the needs of others, the more unhappy one will be. Of course balance is vitally important and sacrificing our happiness for others is not going to do anyone much good; generally speaking, our ‘own’ happiness is not to be distinguished from the happiness of others. Fulfillment and purpose comes through sharing and expanding the self.

As the Dalai Lama has said, “The point of our existence is that, as human beings, we live purposeful, meaningful lives.” When we live without being aware of our purpose we are adrift; without finding our own personal meaning in contribution to the world, one has lost touch with oneself. I mean, why do anything? Nothing we do has true meaning unless we are able to give it that meaning. The better one’s physical condition, the better the foundation that one lays for mental wellbeing (and vice versa) and the greater one’s ability to enter into life and increase one’s capability of living in the manner which gives us purpose and fulfillment. When one finds true meaning in one’s pursuits in the world and of spirit, then why would one need to ‘thrill’ and distract oneself from what is important, whilst jeopardizing the body? Well one doesn’t!

There is a difference between enjoying the physical pleasures that life offers and jeopardizing concentration on what is truly important. This only need occur when fulfillment remains illusive. The increasing secularization of western society and erosion of state identity, with the rise of the economic and nihilistic social lies of consumerism/materialism, social dependence of one’s world-view and the fear of change, has created a certain vacuum of purpose and meaning in our societies and this has left some people adrift in an environment which does not cater to their spiritual life and the expression of their innermost feelings and dreams, those that form the journey of realising the true nature of one’s life.

This skewed focus further intrenches the lack of true meaning and responsibility through a mainstream society which attempts to place material acquisition first and foremost in people’s minds; a complete reversal of priorities, demanding a lifestyle which serves economic interests before the interests of self, both you and others. This lifestyle is also one that dramatically increases stress in people’s lives and distracts from considering basics such as good nutrition. All these elements are part of looking after ourselves and honoring the precious gift of life. Our societies are changing and the focus on the illusionary doctrine of materialism is breaking down; this is an extended process and there are many ways we can help to break through these established structures and renew societal focus on what is substantive, on what is important, in all areas of life.

These changes are the ones which are and will continue to address the problem of people abusing their bodies. We must work to create societies which are as fertile an environment for people to follow their heart and find meaning and happiness. Those standing up for our civil liberties against the socio-political establishment of government and special interests supporting each other in the exploitation of the unwitting populace do us a great service. As the US constitution so truly established, the defense of our liberties is vital for the pursuit of happiness. The more people are empowered, the more they can find lasting meaning and purpose, the less they will be inclined to indulge in a counterfeit which further distracts them from investing their energies in a meaningful way. It is only when we feel the fulfillment of lasting happiness, that which does not require distractions or stimulus, to which such is not relevant, and we realise how precious the gift of our body is, that we are most inclined to look after ourselves responsibly.

So a holistic, lifestyle orientated approach is always important when considering questions such as effective, balanced nutritional practices. It is one thing to understand what is involved in a good approach to looking after the body’s nutritional requirements, but another to see these requirements within one’s wider lifestyle; it is important to keep this is mind, as it gives what we do the motivation it requires and hones our actions. Lack of basic education concerning some fundamental nutritional topics such as I have been addressing in this blog significantly factors into the lack of good nutritional recognition among many people, however this is further intrenched by a modern priority-distorted lifestyle; and a general lack of substantive values in mainstream awareness.

Socio-political reform affects everything and I like to see nutritional and lifestyle learning as an important part of that process. Changing one’s dietary practices and observing a responsible lifestyle in general may well require changes to what one’s priorities are, how we view our place in our social environment (perhaps more as an independent member of a coalition, rather than a party faithful, to borrow political analogy) and where we subsequently invest our energies.


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