Is it possible that ups and downs with respect to our health and well-being are yet another reflection of the ebb and flow of all things? Aren’t ups and downs part of the natural process of life? If ups and downs are natural, should you really be concerned with the downs? Isn’t disease merely the normal flip side to health? If you have a stretch of bad health, isn’t that merely the luck of the draw, part of the price you pay for being alive? And if you can wait out the bad periods and expect that they’ll eventually swing around to a period of feeling good, why should you exert yourself and spend time, money, and energy exercising and eating “healthy” if it’s all going to even out anyway?
The answers to these deep questions have profound implications for everyone. First, there are no “right” answers. How you conduct your life is a personal choice. But in fact many people do not make active choices. They exist in a default state, floating along on the current of any random convenient stream. “Whatever” is the slogan and catch-phrase of these persons.
Such individuals fail to recognize that we live in an entropy-seeking universe. Breakdown, disorder, and decay are the tendencies of all things. Our health is no exception. If you do not proactively take steps to combat the inexorable progression to disorganization, your body will gradually fall apart. Literally.
Understanding that the patterns of life are cyclical does not imply that you should just lie down and take it. The fact that downward trends are inevitable does not imply that doing good things for your health and well-being are useless and a waste of resources. In fact, taking action on your own behalf makes the highs of the cycles higher and simultaneously decreases the depths of the lows.1,2
The result of such action is specific improvement of your health over time. Yes, improving your health takes effort. In this space-time continuum unless effort is exerted to maintain the organization of matter, disorganization will rapidly follow. Muscles don’t stay hard and strong on their own. Without proper training, heart and lung efficiency and strength deteriorate over time.3With a careless diet, digestive organs become sluggish and function poorly. And so on down the entire list of physiologic components and functions.
So, yes, it’s a random universe. Stuff happens, so why not sit back and “go with the flow”. Quality of life is the criterion. How much quality our lives have is based on our personal contribution. Our personal effort. Our personal commitment to healthier lives for ourselves and our families. And that requires effort.
1Stineman MG, Streim JE: The biopsycho-ecological paradigm: a foundational theory for medicine. PM R 2(11):1035-1045, 2010
2Pinto BM, Ciccolo JT: Physical activity motivation and cancer survivorship. Recent Results Cancer Res 186:367-387, 2011
3Brinkhaus B, et al: How to treat a patient with chronic low back pain – Methodology and results of the first international case conference of integrative medicine. Complement Ther Med 19(1):54-62, 2011