As a kid, when I had a bad attitude about something, my mom would often tell me that I needed an "attitude adjustment." I heard this a LOT when I was a teenager. :) These days I sometimes catch myself saying the same thing to my 6 year-old daughter. Then I think:
- When, exactly, did I turn into my mother?
- If I'm saying this now, God help me in the teen years!
When it comes to health, I have to admit that Mom's advice is applicable here. To enjoy better health and quality of life, often we just need to adjust our attitude or outlook on the situation. This can be the difference between:
- I can't do that. vs. I can do this.
- I have to exercise. vs. I get to exercise.
- Cooking is a chore. vs. Cooking is enjoyable.
- I don't know how. vs. I will learn.
- I need more. vs. I have more than I need.
I don't claim to be a "good attitude expert," nor am I a perfect example of healthy living. However, the following are some "attitude adjustments" that have made a big difference in my own life.
I never exercised regularly until I changed my outlook about exercise. Instead of seeing exercise as a dreaded task, something I have to do, I now view exercise as something I get to do.
Having kids is what really changed this for me. Since taking care of kids consumes so much of your time, I learned to really appreciate the time that I do get to take care of myself. My husband and I work together in this way, encouraging each other's self-care, understanding that we can best take care of others when we're taking care of ourselves.
I also don't fixate on the physical results of exercise. The physical results come very gradually, with consistent and long-term effort. If the physical benefits were my sole reason for exercising, I'd probably get inpatient and quit.
For me, I use exercise more for my mental health than anything else. It's an opportunity to get some fresh air, relieve stress, and listen to something interesting on my headphones or just think and reflect. Improved physical health just happens to be a nice byproduct.
Given the right outlook, preparing healthy meals can be enjoyable, creative, challenging, and fun to do with others. Instead of seeing it as a chore you have to do, make it your art! I find it rewarding to make a healthy recipe that my family enjoys. And I give myself bonus points if the leftovers freeze well for an easy and healthy meal that I can quickly prepare down the road. :)
Meal times are not only a great opportunity for nourishing food, but also for spending quality time with loved ones, which is great for your health.
I'm not trying to paint a picture of every meal at my house being an experience of culinary excellence and family bliss. I'm just saying that when I approach cooking with a better attitude, the whole family benefits, in multiple ways.
In school I was always a "good student" in terms of doing what I was told and making good grades. Yet unfortunately, I regret that I was too motivated by grades (the end product) and was less concerned with the learning process itself.
Looking back, I see how much this mindset hindered me. It wasn't until I was 26 years old and taking classes to get into PA school that I became less concerned with grades and more concerned with truly understanding and applying the material.
These days I like to read and listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts. I don't do it because they are part of any degree or certificate, but because they simply challenge me to learn and grow.
I believe that a major contributor to poor health in this country is not a matter of not having what we need. To the contrary, it's often the result of having too much. Too much food, too much sedentary entertainment, too much stuff to take care of, too many commitments, etc. For this reason, I find it helpful to focus my efforts on simplifying and doing more with less. This mindset is good for my mental health as well as my bank account. :)
So those are some areas where adjusting my attitude has made a positive difference in my overall health and quality of life. How about you? What are some areas you could improve by simply changing your outlook?
This post was originally published on July 18, 2016.