I often heard my mother discuss the fact that she felt time was going more quickly as she aged. I often thought it couldn’t go quick enough. But then I was young and rarely reflected on the fact that we are not here on a permanent basis. Lately I find myself connecting to many of my mothers’ statements especially the ones around how life seems to whoosh by with each passing year. It seems that I just had Thanksgiving dinner and now it’s here again. How did that happen? And Christmas is just around the corner. Of course it’s not easy to forget either holiday since the media relentlessly feeds us their ads to buy, buy, buy starting in late August. Christmas decorations are already up and we haven’t even cleared the Thanksgiving dinner. Black Friday is closing in on us, but now there’s some stores that will be open at 9Pm Thanksgiving night in case you have an obsessive need to go to a store and leave your guests in the living room. Forget hanging out and reflecting on the day’s gathering. It’s much better to think about what you’ll be going to purchase while you’re chewing on a drumstick. We have turned life into a constant need to access the future without living in the present. This shift in how our culture lives their lives creates a great deal of stress My mother and her generation seemed to savor each holiday without feeling obligated to discuss the one coming. I have talked to many people about this phenomenon and it may be time to reflect on spending more time honoring the moments we’re in rather than anticipating or dreading the ones that are coming. This is not an easy practice in a society that has come to value “doing” rather than “being”. However, perhaps the gift you may want to access this season is reminding yourself throughout the day to just breathe. When you’re stressed out you breathe more rapidly. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling slowly and purposefully allows you to be aware of the present moment. Every moment that we honor with a deep breath allows us to feel more peaceful by helping to quell the inner critics that never stop reminding us of “what’s next”.Try it when you’re at the Thanksgiving dinner table and Aunt Hattie tells you the turkey is dry, or when you’re lying in bed worried about how you’re going to get all your shopping done, or in dozens of stressful situations that pass and soon become part of the tapestry of life. Just breathe!
In the last several weeks there has been a great deal of controversy over Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to prohibit the sale of sugary drinks greater than sixteen ounces. The reason being that many individuals in the world of nutrition have targeted sugar as the anti-Christ that is behind the obesity epidemic. Do I think drinking a calorie laden beverage loaded with sugar is healthy? No, I don’t, but what I find ridiculous is that Bloomberg and others who are in agreement with his plan are opening Pandora’s box. Where will it end? Is a double cheeseburger topped with bacon and a side order of large fries any less problematic? And what about the portions served in restaurants across America that could feed a small village? I have ordered a plate of spaghetti that I ended up eating over a three-day period. Who is going to be the watch dog over the goodies sold at movie theaters? If you try to buy a small soda and popcorn you are actually charged more money. You get perks for purchasing a vat of popcorn and a giant coke that could double as a kiddie pool.
What I find interesting is that there is no discussion on the fact that obesity is not simply about curtailing an individuals’ intake of sugary liquids. The fact of the matter is that over the years our society has become invested in eating mindlessly. People eat while their driving, while they’re talking on their cell phones, even while their walking down the street. I’m sure we’re going to see the day when they put microwaves and pizza ovens in cars. We have also become invested in “more is better” in all areas of our lives. This type of mindset creates stress which leads to overeating as a way to comfort ourselves. Our days are filled with trying to connect through gadgets that simply increase feelings of isolation. Food is sandwiched in-between the busyness that has become a way of life, rather than taking the time to cook, savor and share with friends and family. Until we are able to see the whole picture as the realty of an unbalanced lifestyle, we will continue to try to find the obesity culprit. Perhaps we should also consider the fact that encouraging accountability for ones’ behavior is one of the most important values we can teach beginning at a very young age. If I can’t develop the ability to self regulate my emotions and be accountable for what I choose to value than we will have no choice but to be at the mercy of other people’s dictates.