Have you ever stood in front of a closet or pantry, searching intently for something specific, yet failing to find it, only to realize later that it was right in front of you the whole time? As we fumble along through life, wondering why health, wellness, and happiness are so elusive, the answer may be easier than we thought. And it may not only be right in front of our noses, we may have had the answer all along.
Your body most likely used to be thinner, fitter, and stronger. Your marriage most likely used to be more exciting, loving, and passionate. And your excitement about life most likely used to be greater. As we grasp for ways to get back what we once had, we often fall for gimmicks, tricks, and fads. We fall for the headlines, the blog posts, and the magazine covers that offer quick fixes and trendy advice. If these do work, they are often short-term patches to big problems, and do not address the underlying cause.
The key to getting the best answers is to ask the right questions. If your child has an ear infection, and your question is how do we get rid of that infection, the most logical answer would be to give them antibiotics. But when your child has recurring ear infections, and they are put on their third, fourth, eighth, or twelfth round of antibiotics, you must ask a different question. While antibiotics do knock out an ear infection, those antibiotics are obviously not the answer to the problem. A much better question at that point would be what is causing these recurring infections? So, the question is everything.
In regards to improving areas of your life that are not-so-good, and were once much better, try asking this question… What’s changed? Those two words will often hold the key to restoring success in your life. If things were better before than they are now, it is most likely because you are no longer doing what you were doing before that created the success that you were having.
As humans, we are struggling right now. Obesity rates are at an all-time high, chronic illness rates are skyrocketing, and conditions like depression and anxiety are more prevalent than ever. Our ancestors did not have these same struggles. So, let’s ask… what’s changed? Lots! Our ancestors ate whole, real foods. They walked an average of 7-10 miles per day (hunting and gathering). The were out in fresh, clean air daily, and had plenty of sun exposure. Of course, there are many other changes we could list (exposure to chemicals, artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors, chronic stress, lack of social connection, exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, etc.), even changes in just those first three (real food, daily activity, and exposure to fresh air and sunlight) have had detrimental effects on the quality of our health. And if these changes have contributed to the rise of chronic illness, then reintroducing those lifestyle habits of our ancestors would have to have a positive impact.
What hasn’t changed? Our ancestors did not rely on medication. The conditions that plague Americans today are NOT due to a lack of medication. Therefore, more medication cannot be the answer. Yet, most of our healthcare system’s attention, efforts, and money go to the development of more medications. That has not worked. That can never work.
What’s changed? Our lifestyle (which is why chronic illness is also called diseases of lifestyle). So, where should most of your energy be applied if you want to have your best shot at managing, reversing, or preventing chronic illness? Lifestyle!
Now, let’s look at two more specific areas of your life… your body and your relationships. If you have put on 20-30 pounds (or more) over the past couple of decades, you need to ask… what’s changed? I can almost guarantee you used to eat differently, and you moved more. Even subtle changes, over time, have notable consequences. Gaining just two pounds per year doesn’t seem like much, and it isn’t, but over a twenty-year period, that measly two pounds per year adds up to a whopping 40 pounds. Yikes!
In terms of your relationships, if your marriage is much different than when it started, again, ask yourself… what’s changed? My guess is you used to listen more, asked more questions, made your partner feel special and attractive, and spent more time alone with that person. You likely didn’t let small things you didn’t like about that person bother you. You went out of your way to do things to show your love. If you’re not doing those things that you once did to build and maximize your relationship, then, over time, the quality, connection, and intimacy will fade. To restore that passion, love, and interest, a good place to start would be to note what has changed, and work on those things.
There are lots of strategies, plans, and programs out there. They offer solutions and quick fixes. But starting with that simple, but powerful, question… what’s changed?… you are likely to find the true cause of the problem. This will lead you to the best solutions. If there are areas in your life that used to be much better, what’s changed? What were you doing then that you are not doing now. Go do those things. It’s a great place to start!