Lately I have been on a mission to see what it is that truly creates behavior shifts in peoples lives most specifically in the areas of health, fitness and wellness. There are lots of ideas, studies and programs that address all three areas and I am finding that there is more to lasting behavior change.
Without a sense of purpose most people tend to flounder or feel lost in a sea of activity, stuff and/or relationships that are empty. The thing is one of the keys to health and especially over time is caring. This also becomes a bit more specific. I refer to it as your core or inner life. If you want to explore all ways to be healthy and happy you might consider some of these ideas.
- Value your family and specifically your primary relationships. Granted sometimes we need to let go of certain relationships as they are not serving us in a positive way. However, it is worth considering that as time goes on there is a huge benefit to knowing someone well and having them know you well, especially as things change and life hands us different challenges.
- Nurture your friendships and create new ones. At certain times in our lives we may feel like we don’t have time for friends and there is truth to this. Raising children, working, caring for aging parents, any number of things can create this. At some point this changes and hopefully there is more space to spend quality time with people you have known for a long time as well as the opportunity to seek out and meet new people that may have similiar interests and space as well.
- Pets. Never underestimate the power of a furry friend. I know most people might prefer the company of a dog but cats and even horses can be extremely powerful when it comes to giving back and receiving as well. I volunteer at a dog shelter and can attest to the gratitude I feel from the dogs I walk or foster. Having one on your own is even better plus you are doing something wonderful for animal kind.
There are other ways to create a life filled with care and I highly recommend exploring what that looks like for you. There is never a shortage of volunteer organizations looking for support, clubs or groups that support community efforts. There are also job opportunities that might create this sense on purpose. It does not have to be a high powered career. Perhaps you have moved on for this, but need a way to interact with people that also provides some value. I realize that as you read this you might be thinking “How does this help me loose weight, stick with a fitness program or eat healthy?” I will address all those things in the next few blogs. The short answer is that we need balance in our lives to be successful at lasting lifestyle change and if we don’t feel a sense of purpose or have something to care about it feels empty, even at our perfect weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising 5-6 times a week.
I look at the whole person when I think of change that sticks. Caring about something beyond ourselves is one aspect of who we all are.