Long time readers will know that one of my favorite quotes is from William Muldoon who said, “We know what we ought to do, we just don’t do it.”
Yep. Some bad habits are fun. Like drinking with friends. Or staying up late to watch TV. Or eating sugar.
It tastes good, it makes us feel good, it lets us unwind. We like it. So we lose sleep, we poison our bodies, and here’s the big one: we overwork.
One of Bernarr MacFadden’s top 5 admonitions for health was to get “rest and relaxation.”
I’m referring to an article in Reader’s Digest by Markham Heid. It’s about successful agers. In it he writes that “the strongest predictor of a long life was being high on conscientiousness.”
This is a quote from Leslie Martin, co-author of the Longevity Project.
Conscientious: wishing to do what is right, especially to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.
Some things we know undoubtedly that are “right”:
- A walking habit aiming for 10K steps per day
- Reducing or eliminating Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sugar
- Exercising with weights 2 to 3 times per week
- Engaging in meaningful work
I think people struggle at all four of those. In meaningful work, what I see is that people want to live a certain lifestyle and they are willing to do work they don’t enjoy to do it. This is across the board. I’m certain it correlates to the low engagement scores most corporations have.
We’ve built strange lives for ourselves but we can sure entertain the hell out of ourselves too.
So the strange life is entertained out and the expense of public health.
No advice here, just awareness. Why is it we want the things we want? What’s the driving force? Most of us are playing the same game. Even if we don’t trust the news, we may watch it. Even if we don’t like our jobs, it’s good enough. Even if we don’t eat right we’re not gonna change…
There’s another thing I didn’t add to that list above and that is
- Family and relationships
These are important, too. And for your relationships, it’s best of these are people who bring you up instead of people who let you be your slovenly self.
Each of us has that slovenly self. The key is to realize it and begin to slowly change and develop more conscientiousness. On a personal note, I believe that people need more “nature time.” Green spaces and clean air. There’s a frenetic and artificial (that is, unnatural) push right now. A huge push for change…but people are reluctant to change even themselves.
At some point today, maybe take 15 minutes and just give your life that 30,000 foot/9144 meter view. Who are you, where are you going? Why? It’s too easy to live mechanically and get caught up in the culture. Until we have a culture that is worthwhile of getting caught up in, we need to swim upstream and develop our conscientiousness.