April 21, 2018

Become an Expert on Yourself

After you've read enough books on a topic (several shelf-feet of them), even for a topic as wide-ranging as living well, you start to notice similarities and differences. While I do not appreciate the joke that life played on me with my bad memory, it did at least try to balance it out with an ability to pick out principles from disparate sources. Often, I would rather have the better memory, but you work with what you've been given and I try to use my principle finding and understanding powers for good and not evil. Upon reflection, I feel that the only way that I've been able to understand how to live well, is by reading large quantities of books and allowing the principles in them to stand out to me through my cognitive superpower.

Part of the difficulty of understanding living well is that the research is coming in thick and fast. There are new things being discovered about the human body and its systems even today. (And things being rediscovered, but that's a topic for another post.) The human body is a complex system and it still has plenty of secrets remaining to be learned. Certainly I blame no one for not knowing things that haven't been discovered yet.

Even allowing for that, I see that the biggest problem with knowing how to live well is that the experts, actual and self-proclaimed, disagree on so many things. They even disagree on apparently fundamental things that seem as though they could never be controversial. In the area of diet we are all used to the endless arguments for or against low-fat and low-carb and even whether we should be meat eaters or meat free. You'd think that there would be a few positions that all of these experts could agree upon, such as the wisdom of eating vegetables. Amazingly, there are strong differences of opinions even within the schools of thought about which vegetables are healthy and beneficial for us.

So, if the experts can't agree, what hope is there for us humble folks who are just trying to get though life without making too big a mess of it? Well, we may not be scientists, but we have access to lots of material written by scientists and experts and we have the motivation to pull the truth out of these writings because we aren't talking about lab experiments, we're talking about our lives and trying to make the best of them. Speaking purely for myself here, I'd like to get some aspects of my life under much better control and retain the advances I've made in others. Figuring out how to live well is personal. It's personal for me, because my areas in need of improvement are very specific to me. It's personal for you, or should be, because your areas of growth are specific to you and likely not exactly the same ones as mine.

To complicate matters further our bodies all react differently to different aspects of life. My wife and I have enough similarities that we enjoy being married to each other, but in many areas of our lives we are so different that we just have to laugh about it. One of our differences is in our approach to an upset stomach. If my wife has an upset stomach, she finds it helpful if she drinks a "white soda", such as Sprite or 7-up. When I get funky south of the border I drink milk and it settles everything right back down. Yet, just the thought of milk when my wife has an upset stomach will make her feel even more nauseous. What makes me feel better, makes her feel worse. We didn't need doctors to prescribe these things, we have learned how our bodies respond over the years and we know what to reach for when the time comes.

This is a key step in learning to live well. We must learn what works for us and especially our bodies. No disrespect intended towards doctors or life coaches, but they can never know you as well as you can know you. I may not have formal medical training, but I know to reach for milk when I have an upset stomach, whereas my doctor would be unlikely to know that. I am not better than my doctor at medicine in general, but if I carefully observe myself, I can become more of an expert in me than any doctor would have the time or opportunity to be able to become.

By studying myself and becoming the foremost expert in me, I can then work closely with doctors, other medical personnel, dietitians, fitness trainers and life coaches respecting their general knowledge of their specialty and adding in my very carefully studied knowledge of myself. This combination will always be more powerful than just blindly following the guidance of a specialist without taking yourself into account.

Become an expert on yourself. Know how your body reacts, know what your learning style is, know when your most and least productive times of the day are so that you can schedule around them whenever possible. Take personal responsibility for learning to bring the best out of yourself!

Tags: Writings Living Well Personal