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The WHY

January 8th, 2014

indexIt’s 8 days into the new year, which means 8 days past that magic day you were going to start changing your life.  You know…those New Year’s Resolutions to move more and eat mindfully and sleep deeply, to nourish curiosity and embrace optimism?  To go counterclockwise? 

What happened?  Are you stalled?  Maybe you have yet to come up with the big “why” — the reason to change, the deep, compelling reason that will keep you motivated.  Maybe this will help. It’s a post I wrote a few months back that I thought deserved re-posting.

The Why has to be big enough.

That’s what a very talented trainer (and a sweetheart of a guy), Sione Fa, recently told a group of people struggling with motivation to get and stay healthy.  I was in the audience, an I’ve-heard-it-all veteran of “get off your butt” speeches.  I’ve listened to dozens of talks from folks in the fitness biz, from headliners and gurus, from multi-degreed professionals in the health and wellness fields, from over-amped scammers.  I’ve been lectured to, preached at, goaded, pushed, harangued – and cheered on.  I’ve been educated, and I’ve occasionally even been inspired. But that single sentence stood out for me.  That single sentence really hit home.  There is a BIG truth in it for those of us not merely committed to our own health but also to turning back our biological clocks.

A counterclockwise lifestyle is a significant commitment.  It’s about incorporating physical activity into your life, about making healthy choices with food.  It’s about supplements and cleanses, about staying current with the science of anti-aging and guarding yourself against the hucksters.  It’s about mindful living, about learned optimism, about figuring out the balance between work and play, about seeking out and nurturing relationships that enrich, about keeping your hands off the Cap’n Crunch.

So why do it?  There are the little venal whys, as in:  I want to look good. I want to attract the admiring gaze of others.  I want everyone at my high school reunion to be in awe. (Not that I think this way, of course.)  Then there are the bigger whys:  I want to feel good.  I want to have energy and vitality.  Right, right.  But why?

The Why has to be big enough.

It has to be big enough, important enough, meaningful enough to motivate you when it’s raining and you’re cranky and you hate everyone at work and your agent nixed another book proposal and your husband hasn’t even noticed that you lost 10 pounds and your daughter just slammed the door in your face.  Not that any of this has ever happened to me.  The why has to sustain you through the tough times and for the long haul.

So here’s my Why, courtesy of one of the most inspiring talks I have been privileged to hear, which came in the form of 20 minutes of off-the-cuff remarks by Deborah Szekely, the then-90-year-old (now 92-year-old) co-founder of Rancho LaPuerta, a decades-ahead-of-its-time wellness retreat.  She talked about life lived in thirds, with the 60-90 year old span potentially being the best.  By that time in one’s life, she said, you’ve learned some things about the world, about human nature, about yourself.  You’ve seen things.  You’ve tried things.  You’ve acquired skills and maybe, maybe some measure of wisdom.  What if you also had health, high-level wellness, vitality, curiosity and on-fire creativity? In other words, what if you had been living a counterclockwise life and now had the youthful energy and optimism to use the knowledge and wisdom you acquired over the years in new, exciting and important ways.  In meaningful ways.

Can you think of a better reason to live counterclockwise?  A bigger Why?


2 Responses to “The WHY”

  1. Colleen on January 8, 2014 8:31 pm

    Lauren,
    Definitely worth a repost! I am dealing with the tail-end of a fairly serious “cold” (not flu, thankfully, or any of the other nasty things going around). One of the things I realize when I am sick is how good it feels to not be sick, to be strong, healthy, have stamina, have the ability to think clearly – all the things I usually take for granted. So if I can live to a ripe old age (teetering on the brink of that final third), and feel truly healthy and young, why that would be wonderful. Definitely a reason to keep fighting the good fight against aging. Thank you for reminding us of the big WHY.

  2. Lauren Kessler on January 8, 2014 8:37 pm

    I know just what you mean, Colleen. Now if only it didn’t take us being ILL or INJURED to remember how good it feels to be healthy!

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