We all know Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The turtle, tired of the rabbit’s boasting, challenges him to a race. The rabbit is so confident in his ability to win that he stops halfway through and naps. The turtle plods along slowly and consistently, passes the sleeping rabbit, and wins the race.
This fable can be seen as a cautionary tale to the rabbit—don’t be so over-confident and lazy—but the message from the tortoise’s perspective has a lot to offer us when it comes to health.
Health is About Consistent Efforts, Multiplied
I recently read the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and I loved the message that it is the sum of our daily decisions mutliplied over time that shape our destiny. It’s not about the epic push or the monumental project, but the small, everyday choices that either take you towards your goal or away from it. Like the tortoise, the small, consistent decisions and actions are what win the race.
I say to my patients all the time, “The tortoise is going to win this race, not the hare.” It’s not just a nod to the fact that tortoises are some of the longest-living creatures on the planet. In our “microwave culture” of wanting things instantly, we are often looking for that magic pill, or the easy way out. Regaining health just doesn’t work that way. Chronic health problems are frequently the result of an accumulation of small actions over time, and good health is no different.
Hare vs Tortoise Health
If you want lasting health, you need to focus on being the tortoise, not the hare.
- The hare diets. The turtle slowly shifts to eating habits that can last a lifetime.
- The hare is a weekend warrior. The turtle is active every day in some way.
- The hare binge sleeps on the weekend. The turtle builds good sleep habits.
- The hare makes time for others on rare holidays. The turtle tries to connect every day.
The end result? A happier, healthier tortoise who wins the race.