Stuff We Already Know

indexMy wife, Muri and I, have not been sleeping very well lately.  To some degree, it seems to be a phenomenon that strikes human beings as they age, not sleeping then dozing on sofa in the middle of the afternoon.  And walking around yawning the rest of the day.  We each have our own peculiarities that wake us during the night and subjects that keep us awake thinking once we’re awake.   Saturday, while I was in the park I found and article in Forbes Magazine online titled Twelve Ways to Beat Insomnia and Sleep Better No Matter What’s Keeping You Awake , so I emailed a link to Muri.   She must have been sitting at her computer reading email because she wrote back within ten minutes:  Isn’t this Stuff We Already Know?  Indeed.

As I roll inexorably into my seventies, it most often seems that my life lessons are actually life reminders of Stuff We Already Know.   I’ve been told as long as I can remember what constitutes a healthy diet, and even if the formula changes some from generation to generation, I can come up with something better than what I actually stuff in my mouth each day.   I know approximately what my healthy weight should be and I know that I should exercise.  I know that I have to take some time to play if I want to be happy and to do something creative to feed my soul.  I know spiritual principles that make me a better person and most times know what’s right and what’s wrong. And yet.  I’m overweight and out of shape.  I’ve struggled on the edge of diabetes for years. I stay up too late and sometimes push myself so hard that I have anxiety attacks. Over the years, I’ve learned that reaching out to friends and meditation are the best cures for my tendency to over-extend myself, but do I do either consistently?

But I’m certainly not alone. All I have to do is Google Why Don’t We Do the Things That Are Good For Us? to find thousands of articles on the subject on websites as diverse as business-orented Forbes to spiritually oriented Tiny Buddha. It seems as if our species is endowed with a life-long resistance to taking care of ourselves. Skimming through those articles, I find plenty of theories as to why we are the way we are. Some say it’s simply inertia, an internal resistance to change of any sort. Others say it’simages(3) fear, fear of change, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of discovering what we’ve always wanted isn’t what we’ve always wanted. I’ve read that not taking care of ourselves can be a manifestation of not loving ourselves enough to think we deserve something better. Some suggest that we are programmed for instant gratification, that the donut in the cupboard is more seductive than the possibility of long term weight loss … or perhaps eating that donut is an attempt to fill some emotional or spiritual void. I’ve written before about my own Inner Rebel who, after days and days of shoulds and ought tos, says, Screw it, I’m doing what I want. He’s very persuasive.

As frequently happens when I post on subject like this, the blog Tiny Buddha, with the slug line, Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives, offers exactly that: There are infinite reasons why we make excuses not to do what’s important to us, and the more important something is to us, the more likely we’ll resist it. We need to accept that resistance is part of the human condition and respond accordingly. Apparently, when God came up with the design for human beings, making things easy was not the top priority. But that’s a topic for another post.  Another Tiny Buddha post titled Why We Find It Hard to Do Things That are Good for Us is the best I found on overcoming resistance.

In the end, though, we will always be going back to Stuff We Already Know in some corners of our lives. It’s why women’s magazines and fitness magazines survive for years regurgitating the same old advice and why the self-help aisle in Barnes and Noble doesn’t have just one book on learning to relax. It’s why churches teach the same principles year after year even though there are only Ten Commandments and why 12-Step meetings say, Keep Coming Back, even though, believe me, after years of meetings you are not hearing anything new. People need reminders and support. The rest is Stuff We Already Know. My first sponsor used to answer the question, Why do I keep coming back? this way:  I could hear the secret of the universe in a meeting and forget it by the time I get home.  He was close to right. The correct phrase is conveniently forget.

So.  We need to accept that we are human and keep on truckin’. Sometimes that’s easier than others.  But to my way of thining, when we stop, we’re not really living anymore anyway.

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