For instance, there was the time I was waiting for my eye doctor. Another time, I was hiking alone in the desert. Or, there was the time I was thumping melons at Safeway when a lady struck up a conversation about how to pick good cantaloupes.
I don’t know what it is about me… For some reason, total strangers feel comfortable interrupting me to ask all kinds of questions, no matter if I am reading a magazine at the doctor’s office, standing in line at a bank, or washing my windshield at a gas station:
them: “How long does the pupil dilation last?”
me: “Long enough to be a good excuse for an afternoon nap.”
them: “How do I get to Scottsdale Road and Tatum Blvd?”
me: “uhhh… you can’t… they run parallel.”
them: “Is that rattlesnake dangerous?”
me: “Only when he bites you.”
them: “Is today Tuesday?”
me: “Yes sir, all day long.”
them: “Does my tire look flat?”
me: “As a pancake.”
them: “What do you think of these melons?”
me: “Quite stunning, dear.”
These ‘chance’ meetings typically had similar results. One question would lead to another, then another… eventually someone asks what I do.
Uh-oh… here we go.
Now… let me preface my next comments by first mentioning that I am happy helping people out. I am pleased I can offer assistance, or insight, or advice on any number of topics, but there seems to be a pattern that develops when someone asks what I do.
Once I reveal my business, invariably they ask something about their health. This is when it gets weird. You see, most people really don’t want the answer… not the ‘real‘ answer.
Most people want the ‘easy‘ answer; the one that does not require they change their lifestyle, or take responsibility for their own health, or require they exhibit discipline in their choices, and so on…
Because I know this about people, when someone asks me for an opinion about how to improve something about their health, I usually respond with two questions; “What is your goal? And how much do you want it?”
I can usually tell by the answers to those questions how much it is worth spending my time in any further conversation. The risk is that I will waste precious brain-cycles trying to educate someone whose eyes have glazed over and their brain has shut down to further input.
Detecting when someone has shut down on an initial conversation is easy. What is much more difficult is detecting when someone’s claim of being serious about their health is really little more than lip-service. It’s the old story of someone who can “talk the talk, but not walk the walk”. This type of failure is much more difficult for me to accept.
This is why prior to someone embarking on a new health campaign — whether to lose weight, build muscle, find more energy, stop smoking, whatever it is — I urge them to be honest with themselves about their goals and progress.
Also, if I am in continuous communication with them — such as a friend — I urge them to be honest with me. There are few things that will shut down my interest faster than if I find out someone has been undermining my efforts to help them.
It would be nice to believe I can help everyone who asks for it, but, all I can really do is provide a positive influence to those who show me they have more than just idle interest. If someone shows a strong interest, is capable of accepting responsibility, and has the discipline to be consistent and follow through with honest action, then I am much more willing to be instructive.
Trifecta is a term typically used in horse racing when a bettor predicts the exact order of the first, second and third place finishers. I use it in this discussion about health because these three conditions must be in perfect working order [tri-(per)fecta] to facilitate the maintenance — or achievement — of health:
- Without Interest, the concepts of Responsibility and Discipline are irrelevant.
- Without Responsibility, the mere Interest in health becomes little more than a fleeting hobby.
- And without Discipline, there is no drive to take action. If there is no action, Interest and Responsibility never needed to leave the barn… Your bet only wins when they all come in.
Achieving a higher state of health is really not so difficult. All of us can identify something in our lifestyles that could be modified to improve our health. Many of us might have defined a New Year’s Resolution that includes the reduction of a bad habit, or the introduction of a good habit. Whatever it is, I tend to recommend you don’t think in terms of “cold-turkey”, but instead, think in terms of “degrees”. Your odds are greater for long-term success if you set a path of modest steps instead of big leaps when you begin to make changes.
Fortunately, our bodies are also working in our favor. The human body is truly an amazing organism that continually strives for the optimum state of health. Sometimes, it needs us to help prod it down the track. But other times, it just needs us to get out of the way.
As we begin this New Year, I hope we all find our stables full of such thoroughbreds as Interest, Responsibility, and Discipline. Excuse me while I go take mine out for a ride. And then tomorrow… wash, rinse, repeat…
By the way, do horses like cantaloupe?
Happy New Year!