When I reflect on my 20+ years of practice, it’s interesting how my approach has changed.
In my early years, I would give my patients more “rope.” I’d work with them to find ways to easily incorporate change. If they didn’t like something or found it too hard, I’d offer a different approach.
That made sense at the time. It lined up with where I was on my own journey. When you’re young, you have more “biochemical” rope. You can put in less work and still get results. Your body will give you more health with less effort.
Not so as you age. The rope is a little frayed, and there is less to dole out. Cultivating health and longevity takes more work, more often. There’s no easy way out.
- Want to keep your physical health and mobility? You have to move and I mean really move. Not 10 minutes of chair yoga twice a week–you have to get outside and walk daily, do weight-bearing exercise twice weekly, and stretch regularly. You have to do hard things.
- Want to keep your brain and cognitive function? You have to do all of the above, but also read books, learn new skills. You need to stay engaged. Work or volunteer. Show up. Have commitments. Get involved. Do hard things.
- Want to keep solid relationships? All of the above, plus say yes to every social interaction. Help out with a community function. Organize a dinner club. Drive to your kids or grandkids for a visit. (Remember they are working, and you are retired.) You have to do hard things.
Too tired? Do it anyway.
Body pain? Do it anyway.
Too disruptive to your precious routine? Do it anyway.
Don’t like it? Who cares–do it anyway.
The older we get, the more likely we are to avoid the hard things. The uncomfortable things. The challenging things. Now, as a doctor in my 50s, I’m stingy with the rope. My job is to tell my patients do it anyway.
I know this is easy to say, of course. So how do you close the device you’re reading this on and actually go for a walk, or commit to an experience that stretches you?
That starts with deciding you are the kind of person who can. You can do hard things.
Look back, and you will find countless examples from your life when you were the person who did hard things. When you crushed it at work. Raised a family. Dealt with challenging health problems. Said goodbye to a loved one.
There are moments in your life when you did things that were so hard, you can’t believe you did them.
But you did. And you did them because you can do hard things.
It was true then, and it’s true now.
You might be a little more physically….experienced, let’s say. 🙂 But you’re still that person.
The healthiest humans on the planet are that way because they do the hard things.
They keep moving.
They keep learning.
They keep connecting.
You can do hard things, too.
What is the hardest thing that, if you committed to it, would change everything this year? Big-D decide…and do it.
Dr. Tara and the StoneTree Team