We’ve all heard about the concept of finding our “why” in helping us to achieve important goals. The idea is that when we have a deep conviction to something, it gives meaning to a purpose and propels us forward with greater force and galvanism.
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Do you know your “why?” How is it working for you?
I thought I knew mine. It was obvious – I wanted to live a long, healthy life so I could enjoy my children’s and grandchildren’s futures, being able to keep up with their ever-evolving schedules, energy, and life events. Seems simple enough and also virtuous, right? The only problem was that I was not deliberately living my “why” and was taking a lot for granted, even though my mind told me that I had resolute intentions.
The plan, especially when our first grandson was born, was to finally get serious about eating better, exercising, strengthening my body, drinking water, blah, blah, blah. I mean, what better motivator than a new and beautifully perfect member of the family to get the ball rolling! And yet, the inertia continued, overpowering any healthy new mindsets or habits. How could it be that the most genuine of all promises I intended to keep to myself just dissipated as if it didn’t even matter?
It turns out that my “why” needed a big, fat shake-up! It’s not that my children and grandson weren’t enough to inspire me, but I was still comfortable in complacency. You see, I have never yet had a true health emergency or scare, and I’m in overall great health for my age. So finding that one, compelling reason to cause significant changes in my habits was continually and nonchalantly elusive. I was resting on my laurels and was, actually, a bit lazy if not smug.
Enter a routine blood draw. I will at least give myself a pat on the back for awareness and preparedness; or maybe it is the learned anxiety from my mother about paying attention to every minor health irregularity. Either way, I am faithful about scheduling and keeping methodical health screenings. And to set the stage, there is a long and prevalent history of heart disease and related illnesses within my family tree. However, I was quite certain that these illnesses would magically bypass me, especially considering that I have never been overweight, a smoker, nor a heavy drinker, and I have an effective plan in place for the near-elimination of stress in my life. Most importantly, I had simply decided with great aplomb that I would not succumb to the family collection of diseases. What could go wrong?
Well the bomb dropped, albeit a small bomb, when I discovered that my blood pressure is elevated. Not yet hypertensive, but definitely not ideal. We could assume that it was a one-time anomaly, except that a previous exam had revealed the same thing. As well, my cholesterol levels are within range, but gradually rising. Visions began to flood my head. I thought about the 15+ years that my mom had battled heart-related illnesses and how she had died only eight short months ago after fighting like a warrior to oppose her fate. I thought about all of the incredible, bucket-list things I have promised myself to do before I die. And, yes, I thought about Sacha, my beautiful grandson, whom I plan to see grow into an adult dynamo, with the nod to his already-established colorful personality.
While it may sound like I am dramatizing a simple lab test, I want to mention that I could also choose to focus on the part of the report stating that I have a mere 1% chance of dying of heart disease in the next 10 years. Sounds promising, right? Sure, but why tempt fate and allow myself to be presumptuous and my health to degenerate? After all, I had clearly been looking for a “why” when I told myself that family was reason enough to be mindful about health and longevity. This little kick-in-the-pants deepens my conviction to avoiding a future of taking medications, receiving undesirable lab results, and continuing to lose strength and vitality. The good thing for me is that I love a challenge (when it is on my terms!) So now I am challenging myself to defeat those medical markers at my next, and subsequent, visits with physicians.
We can’t always predict exactly what will impassion us to improve ourselves. Sometimes our less obvious and unplanned “why’s” can surprise and confound us by taking precedence over the gold standards like love of family. But there is no need to question or analyze how the “why” is generated, as long as it creates desired, long-term results. The point is not to dwell on perceived limitations for the future, but to take action toward designing the life of our wildest dreams!
How confident are you in the purity and validity of your “why?”