More about Less (part II)


Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it. – attrib. to Lily Tomlin and Jack Wagner

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For what it’s worth

My last post started out misquoting Oliver Twist asking for LESS instead of MORE.

Hard to imagine, isn’t it? And yet, in America today, the poor are more notable for obesity than starvation. How can that be, when statistics show that a large percentage of poor in America are, in the new lingo, “food insecure.” That means that even if they have enough food right now, they aren’t sure they will in the near future. Nevertheless, research seems to indicate that obesity is more about food type and quality than cost. Or is it really about “marketing,” the more pleasant-sounding word for what we used to call “brainwashing?”

Meanwhile, people of all income groups are getting more stressed. Whether it’s food insecurity, being overextended with debts, trying to get Johnny to kung fu practice at the same time as Sally has to be at ballet, or worrying about erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness or whether your allergy medicine is approved for both indoor and outdoor allergies, 11% Americans are currently taking anti-depressants, and as many as 23% of women aged 40-59, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, 60% of those have been taking the anti-depressants for more than two years, but frighteningly less than one-third of those taking only one anti-depressant have seen a mental health professional (eg, psychiatrist) in the last year.

Now, I’m obviously not the first one to comment on these trends. And I can’t exactly pretend to know more than the “experts” who have studied the issue. What I’m sure of is that people are stressed. And I’m pretty sure that my little blog isn’t going to solve our national mental health problems.

But perhaps together, you and I, my beloved readers, can do something about OUR health.

* * * * * (c) 2011 JD Gamble * * * * *

Listening to the radio the other day, I heard an ad for a weight loss clinic. They didn’t mention calories, they didn’t mention carbohydrates. Those are so passe. That was conventional wisdom decades ago. “Diets” haven’t worked as a long-term solution, and billions of dollars are still being spent trying to figure out why not. Fewer calories — less weight. Eat less fat — be less fat. It seemed so simple. So logical.

Therefore, so unlikely to work for complicated, illogical people.

But this ad the other day said something about eating more whole grains, getting more exercise, and getting more REST!  Well, of course! Why didn’t I think of that! More freshly-prepared whole foods (takes more time); more exercise (takes more time); more rest (takes lots more time).

Now, think about that. You’re already stressed. You’re already eating too much. You’re already doing too much. Simple. Logical. Just get a new clock. One that runs slower, so you can do more in less time. You’re already having trouble getting everything done you have to get done; you’re already taking anti-depressants, drinking a Starbucks’ 20-oz vente to wake up in the morning, a 44-oz Coke in the afternoon to stay alert at work, and sleeping pills at night because you’re lying awake worrying about all the stress in your life. Obviously, the solution is, you need to do MORE! And get a new clock!

Since Oliver Twist’s time, and long before, the solution has always been, “more.”

Well, I’m not going to tell you the real answer, (I don’t know it) but I’m just going to ask the question, “Could the answer be ‘less’?”

* * * * * (C) 2011 JD Gamble * * * * *

Maybe people don’t need more rest. Maybe they simply need to do less. And more rest will follow.
I encourage you to look at your lists. I have to do this myself pretty often. Look at what you “need” to do. What if you didn’t do them? There is nothing in life you “have to” do. There are simply consequences of not doing it. And you may or may not be willing to accept the consequences.
There is nothing in life you “have to” do.

There are simply consequences of not doing it.

And you may or may not be willing to accept the consequences.

I’ll repeat that one more time: There is nothing in life that you “have to” do. There are simply consequences you may not be willing to accept if you don’t do it.

It is a choice. If you examine the consequences, you get to decide. If you don’t look at the consequences, you may never know whether you consciously are willing or aren’t willing to accept them.

I invite you to take a look at your lists. For each item, take a moment to think about the consequences if you didn’t do it. What would you lose? What would you gain?

* * * * * (c) 2011 JD Gamble * * * * *

In pre-school and kindergarten, we routinely make kids slow down. Take a nap. Quiet time. That, and time to play. Not “play soccer” or “play volleyball.” Just play.

Why? Because if we don’t, they won’t. Instead, the consequences will be that they’ll get really tired and grumpy and fight with each other, and everybody gets stressed and unhappy.

Does that sound like so many adults these days? Does it sound like you some days? I know it does for me. Instead of asking why we make kids take play time and quiet time, I think we should ask why we don’t make adults! Why don’t we make ourselves? Why have we forgotten the wisdom of childhood?

When I was a kid, I never wanted to take a nap. I never wanted to interrupt the project I was working on. I wanted to finish. I wanted to do it right. Get an “A” or a gold star. I guess I was just ahead of my classmates, who didn’t develop that pattern for several more years. Now my classmates take anti-depressants and sleeping pills and Viagra.

What if, instead of marketing gurus telling us we need to do more, we had teachers telling us, “It’s okay. It’s time for quiet time. Put the project aside. You can come back to it later. And even if you don’t, you’ve done enough on it for now.” Maybe the consequences of not doing it won’t be so terrible, after all.

* * * * * (c) 2011 JD Gamble * * * * *

Enough about less.

There is something else that I believe young Oliver needs MORE of today, just as he did then. And so do I. But I’ll have to tell you about it in my next post, because the teacher just told me it’s time for my nap.

… at least, that’s the way it seems to me.

- Irrev. JD