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Soulful Sundays: Hard Choices

"Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life." -Jerzy Gregorek

"To the wise man all things are difficult, thus nothing is difficult." -Lao Tzu

I remember a line that my mother used to always say to me growing up. It went something like "we may not be rich, but at least we can eat like we are." Her philosophy was that while we may not have had the fanciest gadgets, house, or vacations, we didn't have to skimp on the necessities. This sentiment has led me to prioritize decisions concerning health far beyond most other areas in my own life. Like Tyrone said, "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything."

This leads us to the theme of this post--hard choices.

Life is going to be full of hard situations. Like I said in the last post about burdens, a life without hardships is difficult unto itself because of the lack of challenge and the subsequent growth that challenge creates. Eventually, death and disease can occur from doing easy things for too long. We call this loss of adaption, de-training, degeneration, or atrophy. Without the right amount of stress, we become weaker and less fit.

Just look at our nation's obesity problem for an example of why we need to make hard choices now for a better future tomorrow. In 2020, 42.4% of the United States population was classified as obese by the CDC. Most of these folks grew up eating a diet full of processed carbohydrates and fats (the Standard American Diet, or SAD) and have lived mostly sedentary lifestyles (sitting, driving, and sleeping). The outcome is obvious. Over many years these "tasty," "cheap," and "easy" choices lead to obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, as well as increased risk of cancer, mental disorders, and immune issues. Additionally, these so called "diseases of affluence" eat up billions and billions of health insurance and tax dollars every year.

What if we could take those same dollars and instead invest in better food education and supply, gym memberships, and other preventative health care measures? What if cities and towns were redesigned to encourage walking and biking instead of driving? What if we could address the underlying causes of all of these diseases? I think that we are at a pivotal point in our nation where we can choose differently. We can choose a manageable amount of upfront work (I'm not saying it's going to be easy!), or we can choose to do nothing and have a much larger mess to clean up later.

Most other areas of life follow a similar pattern to health. Our global climate, equality, and poverty crises are the result of easy and greed-driven choices made for temporary gain at the expense of longterm integrity. Interestingly, the solutions to one crisis usually benefit all others. For example, pedestrian friendly towns help foster health, equality, and environmentalism simultaneously.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today."

-Chinese Proverb

As you go through your week pay close attention to which hardships in your life you actively engage in and which seem to just happen to you. Is it possible to choose something hard now and avoid something far worse later?

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