Prioritizing Health in an Uncertain Future: Why Taking Care Now Matters

Image representing a person embracing a healthy lifestyle, symbolizing the importance of taking care of health even when the future is unknown.

A blank slate awaits us, and we are making its contents up as we go along.

Dr. Pema Chodron

The prospect of a limitless future has a certain allure. Many times, the future seems blank, ready to be filled up with our own unique brand of determination and good fortune.

The fact of uncertainty, though, has been terrifying me as of late. Having nothing solid to rely on has made me feel more unsettled than ever before.

You know, as the year progresses and the days become shorter and colder, I find myself thinking back to a time of great sadness for me a year ago.

In the span of a few months, I lost four individuals close to me; three of them passed away unexpectedly, leaving me with little time to grieve or prepare for life without them.

The cumulative effect of these setbacks changed the nature of uncertainty from exciting promise to icy, terrifying actuality.

My first and only reaction to this new awareness of uncertainty was apprehension. Fear completely immobilized me.

Eventually, I began to wonder why I should put money into something with such a fleeting future.

Why should I continue my career in this aimless, backward-looking way? Neither putting money aside nor spending it makes sense.

And why, as someone who places a premium on their health, am I spending so much money on it?

Why should I waste my time and money on a treadmill, pricey green juice, raw food, sweating, stretching, or sprouted bread?

Were these actions anything more than my attempts to get hold of an ungraspable world?

This sudden realization of ambiguity left me living in terror and with a penchant for fatalistic self-indulgence.

Coffee with dessert? Sure!

Lunch with chips, salsa, and ice cream? Since you only have one shot at life, go for it!

Push-ups? No use worrying about something that could end tomorrow.

My regular time spent in meditation With everything up in the air, why should I bother putting so much effort into maintaining my personal sense of calm and contentment?

The combination of dread and fatalism had predictable effects on my health: fatigue from drinking as much coffee as I wanted and not exercising as much as I should have, and high blood pressure from worry and caffeine intake.

If I had continued to give in to my fears in this way, I may have caused a lot more damage to my health.

On the contrary, I rounded a corner. I got back on the healthy track with renewed vigor.

Here’s how I went from living in fear of the unknown to using that fear as motivation for a healthy lifestyle:

First, I realized that prioritizing health and happiness was a kind act.

Of course, I realize that even if I exercise, meditate, and eat bowls full of green veggies, it may not be enough to guarantee my future.

On the other hand, if I am interested in beginning my most compassionate existence today (and, given the state of affairs, I definitely want to start now!), I should probably work on maintaining a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.

If I can learn to control my emotions and become more resilient, I may be able to have a beneficial impact on the people in my life, from my own kids and family to my coworkers and online acquaintances.

Being calm and healthy today may be one of the most caring things I can do for others around me, even if I am struck by a bus tomorrow.

Eating healthily and mindfully is only the beginning of a life of compassion, especially in the face of immense uncertainty.

For instance, I’ve begun spending a minute before each meal to thank the people who prepared it, served it, and cleaned up after it.

See also  Transforming Simple Routines into Powerful Rituals: 5 Steps to Follow

Because of this heightened awareness, I now make decisions that show compassion for the animals who contributed to my dinner:

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m trying to eat less meat and more plants.

To show my support for local, eco-friendly businesses, the majority of my grocery store purchases come from farmers’ markets and specialty stores that cater to locals.

The fuel for these shifts has been my fear of the unknown and a desire to leave the lightest possible impression on the people in my immediate vicinity.

Second, I give myself permission to marvel at how amazing it is that my body can feel so fantastic right now.

In the short term, lounging around on the sofa could feel great.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like the exhilaration of samba dancing, bodysurfing, running with the wind in your hair, or reaching the peak of a mountain and basking in the reward of a breathtaking vista.

That is to say, working out is not always a dull, thoughtless way to save up for an uncertain future. It may be an exercise in present-moment awareness, delight, and awe.

Nothing makes me feel more alive than getting my body moving, whether it’s dancing to my favorite music, trying a new, wonderful yoga pose, or going for a run in the park.

The fear of the future has become the driving force behind all I do now. I appreciate my good health, my ability to move freely, my strong muscles and joints, and my steady pulse.

There’s a chance I won’t have access to any of it in the future. Time is of the essence. Immediately, please!

Third, I understood that there are two sides to uncertainty.

The trouble with ambiguity is that we can never be sure of anything. At any time, we may get ill or have an injury that leaves us unable to work.

Our lives might be cut short. However, it’s possible that our lives will turn out to be considerably longer than we anticipate in such fatalistic lapses.

Even though eating a scoop of ice cream and chips for breakfast reduces our chances of living a long and healthy life, odds are statements about likelihood and not guarantees about any one person’s destiny.

By some stroke of luck, we could end up living decades longer than we anticipated.

Why wouldn’t we want to live as long and healthily as possible in the face of such uncertainty and the prospect of a very long life?

Taking care of ourselves now may pay dividends later in the form of improved physical health, fewer future medical issues, and sharper minds.

Preparing for my golden years as best I can, should I live to see them, may be an act of kindness toward my loved ones.

With a healthy physique, I’ll be able to participate more actively in family life and need less care for shorter periods of time.

Once again, no promises can be made. That’s the whole purpose.

It’s natural to be anxious about the unknown, as Pema Chodron writes in her book Comfortable with Uncertainty. Indeed, I was frightened by it.

When the panic finally faded enough for me to take a deep breath, I understood that I could use it to propel me toward living my best, healthiest life right now.

Knowing that tomorrow may not be guaranteed, I want to make the most of each day by dancing the samba, sipping green juice, and jogging down the beach at every opportunity.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *