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As I see it, there are two ways that health can be an obstacle to living life fully--either we get an illness or disease or injury that makes it difficult for us to get the most out of every day, or we don't take care of our health, and we suffer because of our negligence.  While the first problem is definitely important, the second one is the one we have the most control over, the one that's in our hands, so to speak.

I've never suffered from a debilitating disease, and believe me, I'm very grateful of that fact.  Any one of us could contract such a disease at any time, and I always appreciate my good health.  I can walk, run, use a keyboard, do pretty much anything I want to at any time, and I believe it's important that we're always thankful for such abilities when we have them.  On the other hand, I've read many articles and I've seen many web sites by and about people with horrible diseases who say, over and over again, "get everything you can out of life--you don't know when it will end."  They're not wallowing in self-pity; they're trying to encourage others to enjoy life.  The difference between them and many of us is perspective--they've learned to appreciate life, while most of us take it for granted.

The most difficult problem to overcome, in my eyes, is the person who doesn't take care of his or her own health.  We are given an absolutely fabulous machine to take us through this journey called life, a body that can do so many things that it's almost scary.  

When I think of the billions of components that make up my body, the constant functioning of the neurons and synapses and muscles and tendons and lungs and heart and other organs, I'm astonished at the beauty and complexity of our bodies.  And  I do think about such things often.  I find that the more I keep myself conscious of such things, the more beautiful my life is.

But so many of us take this machine for granted.  We abuse it, we treat it badly, we don't give it what it needs, we give it too much of things we want.  We run it too long without rest, we don't give it enough exercise, we ignore the many warning signals it gives us.  It's an absolutely unbelievable gift, yet we treat it as something we bought as an afterthought in a dollar store.

We could get into a great discussion of psychoanalytical discussion as to why people do such things to their bodies, but I think it's much more important to look at why we shouldn't.  The benefits of not smoking have been strongly and consistently documented, yet millions of people continue to smoke.  They aren't taking care of the beautiful body they've been giving--in fact, they're consistently filling it with carcinogens and other poisons.  Can they be living life fully if they're treating their bodies this way?  Many smokers would tell you yes, they are getting the most out of life, but I have to say that I'd tell you differently--they're not.  And I tell you this from experience, having grown up around many smokers.  They go through mood swings and withdrawal symptoms many times a day because of their addiction, and most of them don't even realize it.  They don't realize that they treat other people differently at different times of the day, depending on when they had their last cigarette.  Smokers with children are sabotaging their own children's future health, and conveniently ignoring that fact.  They constantly face a need that can be fulfilled only by lighting up a stick of tobacco--they need the outside stimulus to maintain their equilibrium, and they're completely unable to face life by themselves, on their own terms, without outside help.  You can't be living life fully if you depend on burning a plant and inhaling the fumes for your stability.

Then there are those who don't take care of their bodies either by not exercising enough or by overeating, or usually a combination of the two.  I've spoken in depth with many people who fall into both categories, and I've yet to find a person who feels satisfied with him or herself--there's always something they want to change, and once they make that change, then they'll be happy.  They're not living fully in this moment--they're waiting for that undefined moment in the future when things will change and everything will be fine.  Others don't eat enough, abusing their bodies in an effort to be as thin as possible, their health be damned.  Others work too much, eating a very poor combination of foods that sabotage their entire system with too much fat or sugar or cholesterol. 

This isn't an effort to point fingers or attack people who mistreat their bodies, but more an effort to reframe what's going on.  If someone wants to smoke, that's their business, and they have every right to do so.  But they must be aware of what they're doing to this beautiful gift they've been given, and they must be aware that as long as they smoke, they won't be living life to the fullest possible extent.  They face far too many limitations--caused by the cigarettes--to be able to get the most out of all that life has to offer.  The overweight person won't be able to climb the mountain and see the view from the mountaintop, nor will the drug user.  The underweight person won't have nearly enough energy to do many of the things they'd be able to do if they ate a diet that was sufficient for their energy needs.  Nobody has to be perfect--but it's important that we keep our gift in the best condition for our needs as possible. 

You have a wonderful machine as a body that can do things that we don't even notice, but that make life a beautiful experience.  Keep it healthy; treat it well.  Healthy people have a stronger sense of self, and have higher self-esteem.  As a result, they treat others differently, and they face challenges with more confidence and hope for positive outcomes.  You are a beautiful gift to the rest of us, and we want you to be happy and fulfilled, and we want you to be able to do whatever you wish to do, without the artificial restraints of an unhealthy body.

Whenever I begin neglecting my health (and believe me, I do), I just have to read an article by someone with a chronic disease or see a person in a wheelchair who will never enjoy the thrill of running on a chilly spring morning to make me realize that I'm not doing what I should with my gift.  How are you treating the gift that you've been given?

  

 

The poorest person would not part with health for money,
but the richest would gladly part with all his or her money for health.

Charles Caleb Colton

 

There are lots of people in this world who spend so much time
watching their health that they haven't the time to enjoy it.

Josh Billings

  

The time will come when the work of the physician will not be to treat
and attempt to heal the body, but to heal the mind, which in turn will heal
the body.  The true physician will be a teacher; his or her work will be to
keep people well, instead of trying to heal them after sickness.

Ralph W. Trine

  

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Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life,
which fade and are tasteless without it.

William Temple
  

Think health, talk health, visualize health and better health will be your reward.

Paavo Airola

  

You can find examples of how little we value ourselves everywhere you look.
The signs on the front of the convenience stores where Stephen lives in Florida
tell the story.  Beer, ice, bread and milk are the big come-ons.
The order of the words varies, but beer and ice are always two of the
top four staples for sale.  If we were all taking care of ourselves,
wouldn't the convenience stores compete for our dollars
with signs that read "Fruit, Vegetables, Bread, Milk"?


Bernie Siegel

  
  

Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will
sooner or later have to find time for illness.

Edward Stanley

  

The witch doctor succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us succeed.
Each patient carries his or her own doctor inside him or her.
They come to us not knowing that truth.  We are at our best when
we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.

Albert Schweitzer

  
My contention is that as long as you have other faculties--the emotional,
psychological, intuitive faculties--you haven't lost yourself or even
diminished yourself.  Don't be ashamed when you're physically limited
or dysfunctional; don't think that you're any less because of your condition.
In fact, I feel I am even more myself than I was before I got this illness
because I have been able to transcend many of the psychological and
emotional limitations I had before I developed ALS.

Morrie Schwartz
  

Health is not simply the absence of sickness.

Hannah Green

  

Health is so necessary to all duties, as well as the pleasures of life,
that the crime of squandering it is equal to folly.

Samuel Johnson

   
  

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being
and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

World Health Organization

   

Remember that the body is the temple of the soul.  Those who
mistreat the body tend to mistreat the soul within.  Observe vital
health laws, such as exercise, healthy diet, and self-control.

Susan Santucci

  

Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind; nor can the
material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health.

Mary Baker Eddy

   

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One of the most unfortunate things that has come to us through what we call "higher civilization" is the killing of faith in our power of disease resistance. In our large cities people make great preparations for sickness. They expect it, anticipate it and consequently have it. It is only a block or two to a physician; a drug-store is on every other corner, and the temptation to send for the physician or to get drugs at the slightest symptom of illness tends to make them more and more dependent on outside help and less able to control their physical discords.

During the frontier days there were little villages and hamlets which physicians rarely entered, and here the people were strong and healthy and independent. They developed great powers of disease resistance.

There is no doubt that the doctor habit in many families has a great deal to do with the developing of unfortunate physical conditions in the child. Many mothers are always calling the doctor whenever there is the least sign of disturbance in the children. The result is that the child grows up with this disease picture, doctor picture, medicine picture in its mind, and it influences its whole life.

Orison Swett Marden
   
Most illnesses do not, as is generally thought, come like a bolt out of the
blue.  The ground is prepared for years, through faulty diet, intemperance,
overwork, and moral conflicts, slowly eroding the subject's vitality.  And
when at last the illness suddenly shows itself, it would be a most superficial
medicine which treated it without going back to its remote causes, to all
that I call "personal problems."

There are personal problems in every life.  There are secret tragedies in
every heart.

"People do not die," a doctor has remarked.  "They kill themselves."

Paul Tournier
    

Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite
of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what
brings you nothing but misfortune.  Our nervous system isn't just a fiction;
it's a part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space, and is inside
us, like the teeth in our mouths.  It can't be forever violated with impunity.

Boris Pasternak

  

Health is not physical or material but is spiritual.  Behind the normal
habit of mental and physical action lies a Mind consciously alive
with the Life of good--active with the activity of the spirit.

William R. Miller

    

   

Look to your health, and if you have it, praise God, and value it next
to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we are
capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy.

Izaak Walton

    

But what avail the largest gifts of Heaven,
When drooping health and spirits go amiss?
How tasteless then whatever can be given!
Health is the vital principle of bliss.

James Thompson

   

If anything is sacred the human body is sacred.

Walt Whitman

    
   

For millennia, shamans and witch doctors made no distinction
between physical, emotional and spiritual healing.  To them, all
symptoms were signs of something awry in the individual's
relationship with the larger universe of spirits and animal powers.

Katy Butler

   

It is a religious duty to maintain health.  Eating and drinking, sleeping
and waking, and exercise not outside the province of religion.  They
are as much a part of it as prayer and worship and daily work.  They
vitally affect temper and temperament and the way people look at
the world.  A healthy body makes for a healthy soul.  It is
essential to the finest and fullest kind of life.

Robert J. McCracken

   

People throughout the world are doing great damage to themselves
by holding sickness-producing attitudes compounded with defeat,
fear, guilt and hatred.  Obviously a most important technique of good
health , especially mental health, is to rid the mind of unhealthy thoughts.
Bernard Baruch said, "Two things are bad for the heart:  running up
stairs and running down people."  This is true not only of the heart,
but of the entire physical being.

John Marks Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life

   







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The foundation of success in life is good health; that is the substratum
of fortune; it is also the basis of happiness.  A person cannot accumulate
a fortune very well when he or she is sick.  That person
has no ambition, no incentive, no force.

P.T. Barnum
   

If you want to enjoy health, start this very moment to cleanse
your consciousness of all wrong thinking and rid it of
every thought except the thought of LOVE.

James B. Schafer

  

Our ignorance in attaining health lies chiefly in
not knowing what to put in our stomachs.

Lillian Taylor

   
The more I can love everything--the trees, the land, the water, my fellow
men, women, and children, and myself--the more health I am going
to experience and the more of myself I am going to be.

Carl Simonton
   

When we begin to trust ourselves more, the body begins to renew itself
and becomes healthy and filled with life energy.

Shakti Gawain

   

Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the
opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike
and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune.

Boris Pasternak

    



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Poor health is not caused by something you don't have; it's caused by
disturbing something that you already have.  Healthy is not something
that you need to get, it's something you have already if you don't disturb it.

Dean Ornish
   

Thousands upon thousands of persons have studied disease.
Almost no one has studied health.

Adele Davis

   

If you want to be healthy, do not imagine so vain a thing as decrepitude. 
Make your body perfect by seeing perfection in it.  Transient patching up
with lotions and external applications is foolish;
the work must be inner transformation.

Charles Fillmore

  
It is widely recognized that being negatively sensitive about one's
health through worry-imagery and pessimistic self-talk can make
and keep one sick.  What is not so widely recognized, however, is
that being positively sensitive about one's health--"listening" to the
body, avoiding damaging influences, imagining and directing healing
energy, visualizing perfect health, and so on--can make and keep
one well, as an increasing number of people are discovering, some
of them through curing themselves of "incurable" illnesses.

Benjamin Hoff
The Te of Piglet
   

    

  

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