Stepping into the New Year brings with it recollections of the past and hopes and desires for the year ahead. Contemplation about ways we can improve ourselves is a welcome sidekick of this time of year if we can put our goals into action in our day-to-day practices. For me, reminiscing about the past and what self-improvement goals I would like to make, made me realize how much I treasure my family and friends. I am blessed to have a wonderful, loving group of people in my life who care about my well-being and happiness and whose well-being and happiness I care about in return. I also thought about people in my life who have gone through serious health issues, and how these experiences have affected not just them, but their friends and family members. A physical ailment might be a one person ordeal, but the subsequent emotional reactions are not. It pains us to see a loved one suffering and we can enjoy our lives more fully when the people we care about are healthy and happy.
As such, I know that taking care of one’s own health is not a selfish act. When we feel well we are able to participate in activities we enjoy with the people in our lives.
For example, an overweight, sickly father on the standard American diet might be restricted in his ability to play football or soccer with his sons, to their disappointment. I’ve had an overweight friend with type 2 diabetes say she does not want to go mountain hiking with me because she does not have the stamina. This is a shame given how enjoyable these activities can be, especially when we can bond over them and remember how much fun we’ve had. Most people can coast by eating standard American fare for a while, but eventually doing so will result in sluggishness, extra pounds, and health problems that will interfere with their happiness and the happiness of those close to them.
If we are to make this year the best one yet, let’s all pledge to make eating nutritiously a priority and spend time participating in enjoyable physical activities and games. Plus, by making the right eating choices and feeling great, we are setting a good example for others who might be struggling to do so. Happiness is contagious and feeling our best will maximize our happiness. The emotional benefits of taking care of one’s health have the ability to spread like an invisible white light touching the people we interact with. When you are passionate about your lifestyle, other people can sense that passion.
I can speak from experience that my father’s (as well as my own) passion for nutrition is easily detectable by others and they become motivated to make changes in their diets simply by observing how ebullient and lively my father is when he speaks about the subject. I believe that if you set healthy New Years goals for yourself and follow through with them, the feelings of accomplishment that result can enliven a passion in you that can inspire others to make healthy eating choices as well. Quality time spent with family and friends can then be appreciated undeterred by health maladies for the upcoming year and for many years to come. Taking the place of health problems will be the ability to laugh, bond, and have fun with those you care about.
The above image is a recent picture of my father and me with Marilu Henner.