It amazes me just how little most people understand about health. While it is a complicated topic, it is also simple when certain principles are understood. Most people approach health from a completely backward perspective. The powers that be love this because as people lose their health, they seek it more from the outside, and this keeps our healthcare system in business. Folks are spending trillions of dollars each year trying to find health, and our healthcare businesses are raking in trillions of dollars each year duping people into buying their latest health fad.
So I am going to spill the beans, and put it in simple terms that hopefully everyone can understand. While this is simple, it is simple on the far side of complexity, meaning there are some basic understandings that need to be in place to make it simple. But that is my job…to make it simple for you. Bear with me while I get through some complex explanations to make your life easier. So here goes. Let’s blow the lid off this thing.
Let’s start with a major premise. Every decision we make, every action we take, comes from a premise (whether you are aware of the premise or not). A premise is a basic idea on which we draw conclusions. With health, there are two basic premises: Vitalism and Mechanism.
Vitalism is the theory that the origin and phenomena of life are dependent on a force or principle distinct from purely chemical or physical forces. In other words, we are more than just the sum of our parts. If you recognize the existence of creative intelligence and respect the functions of this life force that cannot yet be explained by physical means, you are a vitalist.
Mechanism is the theory that the origin and phenomena of life can be described by understanding the physical and chemical properties of the system. In other words, we are equal to the sum of our parts (like a machine). This is the system the current scientific and medical model bases its theories and practices upon.
Why is this an important discussion when it comes to health? Because if your actions are incongruent with your core beliefs, the level of destruction in your life will be proportional to the level of incongruence. You will feel depressed, anxious, off-purpose. If you have a mechanistic philosophy of life yet go to church every Sunday, you will feel out of place and uncomfortable. If you have a vitalistic philosophy of life and get health guidance from a mechanist, you will not be honoring the person you truly believe you are, and you will feel the incongruence.
While I have studied both premises, vitalism makes the most sense to me when describing the phenomena of life. It is as simple as comparing a living person with a corpse. While physically the same, there is some life force missing from the corpse…and the mechanists have yet to find a physical or chemical explanation for the phenomena of life.
What Is Health?
The next thing to understand is what “health” is. I see so many people that want more “health,” but have no idea what they are looking for, so they fall for every fad that promises to deliver more health to them.
In simple terms, health describes your condition… or how well you are expressing life. If all of your parts are functioning at 100 percent, all the time, then we would say you are 100 percent healthy. Since we can only have the number of parts we have (we cannot add an arm at will), and “all the time” is a constant, then our health condition comes down to how well we are functioning. The better we function, the better our health.
How Do We Lose Health?
OK, it’s time to get down and dirty. There is a battle going on right now for your existence, and it’s you against the universe! There are two main factors at play here. The one we are all aware of is stress. Let’s explore stress, what it is and what it does.
Stress is literally any force you encounter, and there is a universe full of forces out there. We categorize them as physical, chemical or psychological in nature. These forces smack into your molecules every moment of every day, and without the second factor, your knight in shining armor, they will break you down like waves breaking rocks into sand.
Fortunately, unlike rocks, we have life, which resists and adapts to these universal forces, keeping us in active organization. If our “life force” encounters a stress it can use in the body, the stress has positive survival value. If the stress is harmful to the system, then it has negative survival value. The stress itself cannot determine if it is positive or negative. Only the individual life force can make that determination.
Think about a game of poker. The dealer gives you an eight of hearts. This card is great if you have three other eights in your hand or four other hearts, but is a terrible card if you needed an ace of spades to make a royal flush. Whether the eight is a good or bad card for you depends on the circumstance of your hand at the moment.
So it is life vs. stress. When stress breaks you down faster than life can build you back up, then you lose function…and therefore, health.
Your Health, Your Choice
While we may not always feel like we have a choice in the matter, we actually have more than we think we do. We get to choose which stresses we wish to surround ourselves with. If we are trying to get that royal flush, we can look for a deck stacked with aces. If we want four eights, then we look for a deck of all eights. While there is always some “luck of the draw” involved, we don’t have to leave it all to chance. We can stack the deck!
We can choose what foods we put into our bodies, we can choose to move or be sedentary, and we can choose to read an uplifting book or watch the 6 o’clock news.
The best choices are those aligned with our core values. Most, if not all, of the pain in our lives comes from choices that are against our values. Then we have to clean up the mess of their destruction.
It is impossible for me to tell you what is right for you and what is wrong for you without knowing what it is you value and what it is you want. Only you can decide if you are “living right” or not, but if you are looking for better health, then there are “right” and “wrong” things for you. Fortunately, using the principles above can help us figure it out.
Understand the Stresses
Physical: The basic idea here is to “be fit.” To start, you have to make sure the system is in proper order. You then have to use it appropriately so that it can be exposed to stress and respond. It’s important to do things you naturally enjoy, and equally as important to allow time for the system to recover and build following exercise. Avoid strange, man-made movements and activities that seem like unnatural movements (like that silly Gazelle machine).
Chemical: I think we all have a general idea about what is good for us and what is not. A good rule of thumb is, the closer a food substance is to its natural form, the better it is for you. Avoid known toxic substances, man-made fads, or foods heavily altered from their natural form.
Where we lack in this department is in follow-up. Nutrition is a science, and it is important to test your results on a regular basis. pH testing is one way to generally test if your system has good chemical balance, and more sophisticated tests exist that can test the levels of specific nutrients. These should be done once or twice a year to objectively test how you have been doing in your diet, and to test if you have been exposed to harmful environmental toxins that have become lodged in your system. Find a provider who offers this service.
Psychological: The granddaddy of stresses. Our minds are constantly processing stresses from the past, present and even the future. Unlike most chemicals, when you are exposed to a thought or idea, you can never remove it. It’s important to do your best to expose yourself to positive, constructive forces on a consistent basis, and avoid most of the negativity that floats around our society. Many times, simply changing your perception regarding a stressful event can make all the difference in the world. Surround yourself with people who understand this principle and share positive, life-affirming ideas. Learn to be grateful for all your life experiences.
The Simple Section
If you recognize a “life force” that self-regulates and selfheals, then it is best to honor that force by attempting to understand and facilitate it, and utilize healthcare providers who do the same. This type of healthcare is usually concerned with simply putting things back in the right place, or providing the body with a nutrient it’s lacking (not a drug), and letting it do its thing. This type of healthcare looks to raise the health of the individual, not treat a problem or disease.
Since your health is measured by how well you function, your primary goal to improve health is to maximize your ability to function at 100 percent. Well, what is the master control system in our bodies? Our nervous system! And what do we, as chiropractors, do? We adjust the subluxations in your spine that interfere with the nervous system’s ability to restore function and health. Keep your nervous system in proper order (it was designed to work with maximum efficiency) and learn about the stresses that support and build health.
Use the categories of physical, chemical and psychological stress and make common-sense decisions. Food, movements and ideas in their natural form are typically better than the crazy things our so-called educated minds come up with. So is restoring normal, natural function.
An Inside-Out Approach
We live in a high-stress society. Our ability to surround ourselves with positive life stresses and appropriately manage our negative life stresses will ultimately create our “health condition.”
Start by taking an inside-out approach to healthcare. Strive to maintain maximum function of your body, so it can fully express life. Then, choose which stresses align with your core values and goals to maximize your life experience. Seek healthcare providers who take an inside-out approach as well, and support you in creating the best life possible.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #39.
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