Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress https://t.co/hdS7me3lkk
— NPR Health News (@NPRHealth) October 16, 2017
an oldie but a goodie…
I just read a book called 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik.
Kralik had been down on his luck in 2007: divorced twice, overweight, with a struggling law firm that he’d started, he was also failing in a new romantic relationship. He was worried about losing his seven year-old daughter, too, in a custody dispute.
He made a momentous decision: Instead of feeling sorry for himself (easy to do given his predicaments), he decided to be grateful for what he had. To show it, he vowed to write a thank you note every day for the next year.
What do you think happened?
His life changed. For the better. His relationship improved. His clients started paying their bills and his firm’s financial footing solidified. His health improved. He eventually achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a judge. To top it off, he turned his personal quest into a writing project. Within minutes of writing a book proposal, he received responses from agents who hoped to shepherd his project.
Every writer’s dream……
I’ll grant you that it sounds hokey. But there are a couple of things the book demonstrated to me:
Making a commitment to change is never easy. Kralik decided to change his perspective, and his results are indeed stunning. But he’s quite open about the fact that it was a process, and a lengthy one at that. He had times when he felt like giving up. Crises arose in which he didn’t write a note for several weeks. Sometimes he just flat out felt that he had nothing to be grateful for. But he always came back to his task.
And people really responded to him: from government officials, to clients, to his Starbuck’s barista. Everyone likes gratitude. We are human. It helps to know that our work and our humanity are appreciated.
There are other personal resonances: Kralik hails from Cleveland. Even as a lawyer, he shunned corporate law for his own values-driven law firm. He wrote a mission statement, and was rankled with inner turmoil when he strayed too far from it.
I guess to sum it up I’d write Judge Kralik a thank you letter of my own:
Dear Judge Kralik:
Thank you for sharing your story with me.
I am truly inspired by how you were able to turn your life around. As a doctor, I am touched by the mission-driven aspect of your legal work. In addition, I find that your quest to allow gratitude to suffuse every aspect of your life really provided a beautiful level of harmony to your story. I plan to share your story with patients and colleagues; I am always moved by ideas and examples that take something simple (e.g. the thank you note) and make it a habit that can lead to a virtuous cycle.
Congratulations on your professional and personal successes. I hope that they continue.
John Henning Schumann, M.D.
I’m often asked for medical advice by friends, family members, even new acquaintances. It comes with the territory: What about this diet? What should I do about this symptom? What about this medication?
People are usually disappointed when I don’t share their enthusiasm about the latest health fads. Members of my family, in particular, are often underwhelmed by my medical advice.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do a poor job of conveying why I’m skeptical about the newest medical technology, reports of the latest health news and fashions, and even people’s symptoms. Most symptoms, after all, aren’t explainable, at least to the level of detail we all want.
“What’s causing my symptoms?” Is it a virus? Bacteria? Arterial blockage? In spite of all the science and technology in medicine, what we do is more about taking educated guesses (“playing the probabilities”) than providing precise diagnostic information.
But prevention is different. We know a lot about it, based on huge bodies of epidemiological research. Most of prevention is fairly straightforward. You’ve heard the advice again and again — so much so that it’s easy to tune out. There really aren’t shortcuts:
- Get enough sleep.
- Move your body — throughout the day.
- Eat well — a healthy assortment of foods. Mostly plants, and not too much. [An idea popularized by author Michael Pollan.]
- Interact socially. Isolation is not good for the body, soul, or mind.
- Take some time to reflect.
Recently I’ve come across a couple of ‘content items’ that do a much better job of conveying these messages. One is a set of books and ideas around the world’s so called “Blue Zones.” If you haven’t heard about them, Blue Zones are the places in the world where people both live the healthiest and longest — people in these communities often live well beyond 100 years.
- Okinawa, Japan
- Ikaria, Greece
- Sardinia, Italy
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, California
In all of these places, people have preventive medicine embedded in their lives, without even having to think about it. Their daily activities involve walking most places, eating healthy diets rich in local plants, with a lot of intergenerational social interaction. Interestingly, folks in these communities do drink alcohol — but limit it to 1-2 drinks/day maximum. And they do eat meat — but not very often and in small portions. One thing that won’t surprise you: Blue Zoners do not eat refined sugars (all the convenience and packaged foods that we’re trained to eat because they’re cheap and widely available).
Summarizing these themes visually in under two minutes is another gem from the idea lab of Dr. Mike Evans from Toronto. You’ve seen some of his other videos here. I love them. Just watch the one below, and follow his advice. That’s what I’m trying to do in my own life.
From the Evans Health Lab:
What are your thoughts on Blue Zones and Dr. Mike’s advice?
This week I was reminded of ALPO dog food commercials of my youth, in which cowboy-turned-space captain Lorne Greene assured us the product was “100% meat and meat by-products.”
Two concurrent news stories brought that haunting phrase back to me:
- The revelation that two escaped convicts had tools (hacksaw blades) smuggled to them inside packages of meat.
- The story about Chinese authorities cracking down on a meat smuggling ring involving tons of 40 year-old meat that had been frozen, thawed, and re-frozen dozens of times.
Oh: And if you’re not that ‘into’ current events, just know that this week the arc of the moral universe of the United States of America bent sharply towards justice.
What I love about this latest Shots piece is that I was able to interview Doc Mike Evans, he of the famous animated whiteboard video “23 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?” that has racked up more than 4 million views on YouTube.
Evans is a lovely guy—down to earth, thoughtful, patient; he’s a father, husband, doctor, health educator, and still, at age 50, a hockey player. He didn’t even blink when I asked him several of the cliched questions he’s been asked many, many times.
“Are those your hands in the videos?” –No.
“Did you know ’23 1/2 Hours’ was mentioned on ‘Orange is the New Black?’ ” –Yes.
As with greatness in other realms, Evans makes what he does look effortless. But it’s not. Each video takes at least a month of research/writing/editing before his crew even gets to the filming stage. The filming and editing thereafter can take as long as another two months. That’s three months plus for videos pared down to 10 minutes or less. Information-rich videos that make the complex simple.
Rare is the video that makes you feel smarter just watching it. That’s what Evans does.