For some time now, television, newspapers, and magazines have been shouting out results of the latest studies ranging from the harmful effects of snoring to the benefits of eating blueberries. When the American Cancer Society or Heart Foundation, who we all believe to be credible organizations, confirm these studies, most of us will admit to believing them.
Why then is it so difficult for us to make lifestyle changes that can affect the quality of our life and possibly even how long we will live?
As a psychologist friend once said to me, “We can know something to be true, but it’s not until we have thought about it and fully assimilated it, will we be motivated to make a change … and that’s only the first step.”
Take for example, quitting smoking. I doubt there is a person alive in the western world who doesn’t know how harmful tobacco smoke is to one’s own body and those around her. Why, even the tobacco companies have been compelled to provide information on their Web sites on how to quit smoking, and every smoker has seen those ugly warning labels on a packet of cigarettes.
Instead of digesting the well-documented information, we spend our creative juices making up excuses.
I’m sure you’ve heard many of them: “I can’t afford to put on extra weight,” “I could be hit by a truck tomorrow and die,” or “My grandfather smoked all his life and lived to be ninety-five.”
How about bad eating habits? You’d have to be a recluse not to know that we have a growing epidemic of obesity in North America and it is fast spreading to the UK and the rest of Europe. Nutritious, home cooked meals are a thing of the past. Eating in restaurants has become the norm in our families and I sometimes wonder why we bother to buy refrigerators, unless it’s to store those Styrofoam boxes of leftovers. Ask almost anyone and she will tell you: “I don’t have time to cook,” “My children don’t like what I prepare,” or “It’s not any more expensive to eat out these days, so why should I bother to cook?” Once again, the excuses are easier to manufacture than to make a genuine effort to change a well-ingrained habit.
I could go on giving you examples of things we could change in our lives that would make immense difference to our well-being. You’ve probably thought of many yourself: exercise, alcohol and drug abuse, sleeplessness, working long hours, and controlling your budget, to name just a few.
What if you REALLY wanted to change something in your life? It takes more than desire; you must truly believe that you will benefit from the sacrifices you’ll have to make to accomplish your goal. If you get that far, you’re half way there. Some people give up too easily and resort to the time tested excuses. It’s not shameful to seek help from experts. In fact, it only strengthens your resolve. Believing in yourself will keep you motivated. Measure success in small increments. Don’t expect miracles overnight and if you “fall off the wagon,” consider it a small setback and begin again!