The Gratitude Challenge’s fifth topic is “Health”.
When it comes to health, one sentence comes immediately to my mind: “A healthy person has many wishes, but the sick person has only one”. Often we forget to appreciate the wonder of being healthy and how everything works together; how our body simply “knows” how to breath, how to digest, how to walk, how to sleep with peace of mind. We often forget to be grateful for what seemingly comes “naturally” .
The definition of “health” also changes over time, both externally (what society claims to be healthy) and in our own perception. As we age, we get “used to” minor or maybe even major ailments. Current health trends and the spirit of age are also changing. For example, my vegetarian diet was considered “unhealthy” in Germany when I was a teenager, whereas at the time of writing, vegetarian and vegan diets are considered healthier by many when compared to a “traditional” Western diet that relies heavily on meat.
My belief is that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body and that therefore our “system” as a whole – mentally and physically – requires proper care. For a long time I certainly put my focus almost solely on the physical aspect: Working out (sometimes taking it too far and working out even when I was tired), eating healthily (sometimes too extreme), relying on natural medication as well as staying away from any kind of drugs including alcohol and tobacco. A medical checkup confirmed: I was extraordinarily “healthy” from a physical point of view. Yet in my mind there was something I did not even consciously realize, but that made me feel restless, incomplete. Hence, I think “health” is not an absolute term, something that can be measured and that allows us to say that either someone is healthy or not. It has a lot to do with one’s subjective feeling, too.
After a hiatus of ten years, only recently my awareness resurged that mental health needs to be equally taken care of. I took up practices that I had neglected for much too long, such as journaling, meditation, the reduction of working hours and daily stress in general. I started to think about how I interact with others, how I behave as a friend, partner, son. Many realizations were not exactly flattering, but at least it hopefully allows me to gradually become the person I actually want to be.
Once we start to think, we realize how the whole system around us encourages to be rushed individuals that somehow need to survive in a global race for profit maximization and consumerism and in which we are absolutely not encouraged to think too much, so that we remain part of a loyal army of workhorses that give everything until they reach absolute exhaustion.
I am grateful to live in an environment and to be surrounded by people that allow me to build and maintain physical and mental characteristics that make me feel healthy.