Andy Warhol once said, "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." Somewhere along the course of our lives we have the option to choose health, happiness and peace, just as we would choose a vocation or a home or a life partner. A fantastic life won't just fall into our lap like Isaac Newton's apple. It has to be a goal that we pursue, alongside everything else we want in our lives.
Let me tell you a story: A man marries a woman and eventually they have two beautiful children. He loves his wife, but they are no longer passionately in love. e wants romance, passion and excitement in his life, but the childhood philosophy of his rigid Catholic mother is ingrained in his psyche so divorce is sacrilege. He does not choose the life that makes his heart sing. To further complicate matters, he does not develop a consistent exercise regime, and he rarely eats vegetables.
He develops diabetes, a condition that worsens with time, exacerbated by the lack of physical and emotional wellness. He develops diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), has trouble standing and eventually due to another series of events, has to have one of his legs amputated below the knee. All prior conditions are complicated by the lack of physical strength, discipline and neglect of a lifetime of emotional traumas. What used to seem like a minor inconvenience -- eating a salad, walking thirty minutes, seeing a therapist on occasion to face some of those ugly emotions -- is now a luxury that is difficult to fulfill. A series of choices, conscious or unconscious, have made the simple desire to find romance even more challenging.
There is a correlation between emotional trauma and illness. It's no longer about just eating healthy and exercising for our physical bodies. The connection between our bodies, souls and emotions is real. Don't just mind my opinion. Science is documenting the connection as well.
A 2010 article titled, "Stress Linked to Cancer," states that "scientists have discovered that everyday emotional stress is a trigger for the growth of tumors. Any sort of trauma, emotional or physical, can act as a 'pathway' between cancerous mutations, bringing them together in a potentially deadly mix." They also add that, "Nourishing your emotional health is an important cancer prevention strategy."
At luncheon in 2012, therapist and author Robin Karr-Morse stated that "We don't get how the central nervous system affects everything that we become ... we don't get how vulnerable we are when we enter the world (as an adult) without preparation. It has long been proven by physicians, therapists and researchers alike that without intervention or treatment, childhood trauma can have devastating effects throughout adulthood."
Wellness should not be equated with sacrifice; it should be equated with enjoyment. What seems easier to avoid or postpone -- healing the wounds of our past, eating healthier, exercising, ignoring our passions -- is at our own peril. The longer you procrastinate and go down the path of neglect, unhappiness, and a passionless existence, the tougher it will be for you to choose the fork in the road. The boat will arrive at the dock many times, but it will become harder and harder for you to get on it and set sail, because slowly you have eroded your ability to listen to and trust the little voice inside that tells you to "Go for it!"
I'd like to make a bet, now I can't prove this, but I think it has merit -- you could eat hot dogs to your hearts content, wash it down with beer, smoke cigars until "old" age like George Burns and still live a happy and healthy life, if you feel carefree. I think nothing will destroy your enjoyment and health more quickly than festering traumas, unresolved emotions, regret, bitterness, etc. All the health food and yoga in the world can't cure unresolved emotions and trauma. We don't have total control, but if these negative emotions are left unresolved they can destroy all sense of self and contaminate our physical bodies with powerful toxins. They can change the course of our life, reduce our power, cripple our capacity for reinvention.
As tough and painful as dealing with unresolved trauma is, we can resolve and release traumas and live a full life. Yes the thought can be scary. But the alternative is brutal and debilitating. I suggest we choose the immediate challenge for the sake of the long term play, which is our life. Initially it can seem messy (it is messy), but without it our lives are doomed for failure (real failure, not just temporary defeat) and disappointment. I would much rather wade through the mess now then, then suffer through the regret and pain (sometimes debilitating) later.
The great news is, it is never too late to change yourself and therefore your life. You can change now! We can choose to heal ourselves and live a better life. We can reach out for support, therapists, healers, meditation and guidance. We can seek out what we need to support our journey, but we have to have the desire to take that journey with a better vision of our future in mind.
Wellness is a choice and it is not about depriving yourself of all the fun life has to offer. It is a decision that says you still want to enjoy your life when you are 60, 70,or 80 years of age -- if you are lucky enough to live that long -- even if you are diagnosed with diabetes or another disease. Simple things like choosing to eat vegetables, getting your teeth cleaned and exercising regularly can make a big difference in whether you regret or enjoy your life now, and in the years to come. They say you only live once, but even if you don't, wouldn't you rather live this one with the utmost of joy?