One of my all-time favorite movies was the 1991 Academy award winner for best screenplay “Thelma and Louise.” It was the story of two working class women who take off from their mundane lives for a weekend of freedom. No spoiler here—they pay a high price for the freedom they seek. One of the best of many good lines in that movie was Susan Sarandon’s admonition to Geena Davis, “You get what you settle for.”
That’s a true statement, I think. In my own life I have often encountered that intersection to “settle” for what is, or to reach for something new and different, hopefully better. And, no doubt, sometimes the best answer is to “settle” for how things are, and move on. Other times, though, it has paid off to reach beyond or within myself for more, for the proverbial brass ring, or for the abundance in life to which I think we are all entitled.
I’m talking about health here. I had lunch with a friend this week whom I admire in many ways. When it comes to health, however, in talking about his own struggle with a chronic illness, and that of a mutual friend, there was this tone of “settling” in his remarks, and in his voice. “Everyone has something, I guess,” he said.
T. Colin Campbell, renowned nutritionist, and author of The China Study, after a many years long study of diet and nutrition in some controlled villages in China, emerged with over a thousand statistically significant findings. (It’s a great book, full of science in easy to understand terms. I recommend it.) One of his conclusions is that in this country we suffer from diseases of the affluent. While people in other countries suffer from the results of poor sanitation, they are much less afflicted with arthritis, diabetes, obesity, digestive disorders such as IBS and Chrohn’s, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, and even cancer than we are here in our land of plenty. Many of the medical conditions in other countries do not occur with anything close to the frequency with which they occur here, simply because our “high-on-the-hog’ diets and lifestyle set us up for illnesses, which we then attribute to “aging.” As a culture we are practically oblivious to or ignorant of the fact that we build our own fates day after day, meal after meal, with what we choose to eat, and the general lack of respect with which we treat our bodies. We eat substandard food and think it’s fine. We sit too much and complain how busy we’ve been all day. And so on.
So, I submit here that when it comes to our health, those of us who have reached the age of 50 or so, and have begun to feel the affects of what we have done by our own hands, “settle.” We say, “Oh, my,” or “Oh, well,” rather than making any moves to reclaim our birthright to wholeness in body, mind, and spirit, say nothing of the vigor and vitality that is possible, and, in fact, awaits us on the other side of our settling.
Whoever is interested in taking steps to life in its fullest expression, consider these steps, and begin. The order doesn’t matter. Begin, and the next step will reveal itself to you.
1. Drink more water.
2. Greatly increase intake of leafy green vegetables.
3. Increase sweet vegetables – carrots, and other root vegetables.
4. If you’re going to eat grains, eat whole grains, and lose the processed flours.
5. Practice cooking (real food—quit opening so many boxes, cans, bottles, and bags.)
6. Experiment with other than animal protein sources. The animals in the world will thank you for your efforts, and you will enjoy better health
7. Eat fewer processed foods.
8. Develop healthy relationships with others.
9. Enjoy regular physical activity.
10.Find work, or volunteer activity that you love.
11. Develop a spiritual practice, or grow in the one you already have.
There are times in life to “settle.” I think that for most of us, that that time is actually much later in our lives than when we do it.
See what you think. I would appreciate hearing from you. Think of one of the items in the list above with which you can move a few steps out of the “settling” column, and into the “abundant life” column. Post your answer on my Abundant Raw Life Facebook page by clicking here. I look forward to seeing your responses and I promise to read each one. And if you haven’t done so already, like the page. It helps to spread the invitation to health. Thanks.