When my boyfriend finally puts that ring on my finger, I can start planning the rest of my life
When I can afford that classic car, I will go on more road trips.
When I can bench press just another 25 pounds, I will feel strong.
When I get my doctorate degree, I will make more money.
When I make more money, I can spend more time with my family
When I get that promotion, I can finally take more time off
If I can eat healthier, I will lose weight
If I get that job, my family will be happier
If I could make just a little more money, I can buy that car
If I can buy that car, I can appear more attractive to women
If I could keep my house cleaner, I could have friends over more often
If I had a bigger house, I would invite people over
I wish I could make art
I wish I was prettier
I wish had had more muscle
I wish I had a better body
I wish I had more money
I wish I was thin
I wish I wasn’t sick
Do you do this: attach your happiness to your goals? Goal setting is a noble act, but the steps to the goal are as well. I will actually make a concept map or lists just feel the accomplishment in small steps so that I am also enjoying the path to the goal. Yet what do we do as soon as we achieve our goals? We make another one. During that space between goals, do you savor it? For how long? After the initial elation, does the feeling start to fade to the sensation of lack because there is something else we want to reach to be better? Why do we continue a cycle of scarcity? Is it a culturally imprinted illusion? We live and many of us born into a hustle environment.
Our culture thrives on insatiable drive and I am still trying to decide if that drive is more of a draining of the soul rather than a purposeful pursuit. I think that there is some space between and I have a tough time being in that space despite that it’s uncomfortable standing on the edge. Thoughts?
When I think about scarcity, I think of the unequal distribution of the words in the image above. Sandro Galea, explains the premise of his book in the World Health Organization Bulletin interview about Galea’s book, Well: what we need to talk about when we talk about health. He talks about a prevention framework that is evidence-based and measurable, yet we don’t choose to invest in the social determinants of health that guide general public decisions about their lives unless there is some money to be made.
Isn’t buying stuff fueling the buzz about self-care? It’s fine to splurge on fun and relaxing experiences, but those are short term. Going to a spa day doesn’t solve fatigue if someone is not getting enough sleep because of work demands…for example.
Anyway, it was a good and short read and you can access it below. I think though that public health professionals can talk and talk about this until they are out of breath. Galea writes this book for general audience and I am grateful for that.
For the past 2-3 years, I have thought a lot about scarcity and the mindset it brings. I have learned a lot about how I have allowed scarcity to affect me and I know that I am not alone. Not by a long shot, but that doesn’t help me feel better. Culturally, our collective circumstance of scarcity is alarming. The scarcity mindset affects us on all levels so it’s no surprise we believe that this suffering is normal. We also believe that “overcoming” scarcity in terms of success (success is often defined within a small box) gets the cultural blue ribbon. I kind of hate this hero’s journey.
See example below. Scarcity content. New Mexico (where I happen to live) ranks last in terms of providing our children a basic need–Food. I mean, really imagine how it must feel to look in your cupboard and see two cans of green beans, tuna fish and maybe a box of cookies. The fridge has less than a half gallon of milk, a pitcher of green Kool-aid, some wilty celery stalks, margarine, browning iceberg lettuce, leftover fried potatoes, a few slices of bologna and a few slices of bread.
How will food scarcity affect our future? It’s not usually a hero’s journey.
I don’t know a whole lot of people that claim to love exercise. I didn’t always like it either unless it didn’t feel like exercise or it was a vehicle to a different activity that was efficient. Think about it. Physical activity is hard. It’s painful sometimes during and after (I have witnessed people in High Intensity Interval Training just give up and leave). Have you tried sitting on a toilet after working your legs to death?
I used to run frequently and I would feel that endorphin high. With that high came a clear head, different perspective if I was stressed out or mad, and great ideas for my next assignment during grad school. It was worth the time and pain. Running also really helped me push through a hangover.
Whether we like it or not, we were born to move. As little as 50 years ago, we were nowhere near this sedentary. Our sedentary nature has culminated insecurity, lack of confidence and skill to our perceptions of our interactive space in the world. We don’t want to engage in physical activity the wrong way and in front of others. That’s embarrassing. Sedentary life has depleted our innate sense of essential movement.
It’s the same with food and nutrition. We want food to be easy and comforting. Getting extra physical activity and good nutrition into an already demanding and busy day is just added work with more planning, shopping and preparing meals for yourself and others. Some of us really don’t feel like we have the time or energy. Lucky me, I enjoyed cooking and it was my creative and relaxing outlet that also led to lots of wine or beer drinking. I still have a Pavlov dog association with drinking while I cook so cooking is definitely not as enjoyable as it used to be. Sometimes I wish that my family would just stop being hungry.
We are physiologically programmed to take the easy route because at one time it was essential to our survival and still is to some degree. When we were not constantly working to maintain a food supply, which is physically demanding, then rest was essential. I don’t know about you, but my mind wants to move much more than my body. I mean, my mind is a powerful freight train full of information that thinks it must keep moving. Why would we add one more thing to learn and busy up our minds even more? Is that opportunity worth the cost of time and vulnerability? (Remember the insecurity part I mentioned above?)
So we engage in mindless activity (or is it?) through social media, Netflix or Hulu. Screen time. Not all of it is mindless or horrible. I am definitely looking forward to new episodes of Stranger Things, but screen time is not so great when it’s for hours and gets worse if you are pondering all night about your always super happy friend on Instagram and why can’t you be that happy too. You lose sleep. So much for mindless activity.
I think the last time I was in this good physical shape, I was about 10 and now I am 42. I am in a good mood most of the time. I don’t make mountains out of molehills with life’s little annoyances. I am solution oriented. Building muscle has been a fountain of youth for me and I drink it up. I have a twenty-something year old metabolism. I am 122 pounds and I don’t feel deprived of food. I feel this life buzz and I can’t figure out why more muscle creates that. Fitness is definitely a feeling. And I love it. My point is that life got easier when I invested in my self-care.
Physical activity is a way for my mind to stop. I have a high tendency towards depression and I had some crushing events about two years ago so exercise is necessary and my family knows it. Not only I am I witness to it, but the mental wellness/physical activity correlation is evidence-based. My physical fitness became a mindful activity for me and I have reaped some huge rewards.
However, we live in a culture that projects a collective perception that we feel rewarded for being chronically busy. It feels like everything we do has to be “work” if we are going to feel good about it. God forbid that we actually have fun or “play” while we exercise because if we have fun, we don’t earn our constructed reward for “hard grueling work” even if it is actually work. I think physical activity is work, but if it turns out fun, we feel guilty although it’s necessary self-discipline.
To this day, my husband and I often feel like we were burdening the other with more chores if one of us goes to the gym. When Zumba first hit the gym we went to, I fell in love with it, but felt guilty about it because it was fun. Isn’t that dumb? Dumb or not, it is totally how I felt. In college, I took Physical Education classes just so I could exercise while at the same time earn a grade. Earning the grade was the work part that justified my self-care and just plain enjoying myself. I am overcoming guilt for having fun exercising and partly because I make money teaching classes, but I have spent a lot too for those certifications. More guilt.
We have the perception that we don’t have grasp or control of our future health (fatalism, prevention).
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is perception of your current health? Are you overweight, overtired, stressed out? What do you do to cope with current health status? Is it working? What’s working and what isn’t?
If and when you have been in great physical and/or emotional shape, what was different about your life? What did you value doing? Was it healthy?
What is your definition of self-care?
What keeps you sitting?
What situations, people and environment in your life prevents you from making healthier choices? What small steps can you make to change the situation?
When I was a little girl, I lived with my dad for a short time in Denver. My dad needed to get away from the New Mexico environment so he could change his life for the better. I always had a bond with him and I liked it there although we were dirt poor.