Encouraging people to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.

More about Potted Plants

In our August newsletter, I reminded readers of an important choice we all have as we age:  we can either (a) exercise and follow good health practices or (b) accept that in the future we may resemble potted plants!  The image I suggested was of a plant that would be fed, watered and moved from place to place by caregivers. 

I chose this dreadful image to motivate myself, as well as you.  With many of us living longer, it seems only wise to plan for quality and not just quantity.  We may have many more years, but will they be joyful, productive and really worth living?  To help me make wise choices, I bought a reminder: a miniature potted plant. I placed it in the bathroom.  
And it worked – for a while!  Aargh!  But I must report that I fell off the wagon. Temptations were everywhere: 

“Just stay home today and read.  You can go to the gym next week.” 
“I’m too tired to floss my teeth again.”  “What will it hurt to eat that hot fudge sundae and those French fries too?”
I am now looking for a meeting.  “Hello, I’m Kendra and I’m a geranium!  Or at least, I’m headed that way.  I can feel my leaves and petals sprouting.  That sunny window is looking sooo tempting. 
Last week, I attended a wonderful seminar on addiction.  I was reminded that we’re all programmed (from birth) to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  It’s about survival and procreation.  Sitting on the couch is a lot more pleasurable than going out for that walk.  Flossing my teeth takes a lot more effort than just settling into my comfy bed with my book.  We each have a pleasure center in our brain. This pleasure center has a rich archive of memories about things enjoyed in the past (the smell and taste of that warm fudge, for example).  Those memories actually compete with our resolve to make wiser (and harder) choices. 
This means that we can forgive ourselves for choices that haven’t been consistent with long-range healthy goals.  It is actually harder than “Just say no!” or “Just do it!”  But, then what? How can we battle this archive of “pleasure memories” and make better choices?  Somehow, I need to remind my brain that when I follow those lures to pleasure, I ultimately feel upset about my choices; e.g., “I can’t believe I just ate that ice cream when I was actually doing so well on my diet!”  
I’m borrowing a strategy from hypnosis.  I can provide my brain with an archive of images I purposely produce to counter the pleasure archive.

Here’s how it works:
  • Find a comfortable place to sit – away from other people, radios, television, etc. 
  • Take a few breaths – focusing on how it feels to inhale and how it feels to exhale.
  • Imagine that you are transported a few weeks ahead in time and you are looking at yourself in the mirror – appreciating what you see. 
  • Notice that you are healthier in some way (maybe having lost weight or gained muscles).
  • Soak up the good feelings. 
  • You might remark that you are pleased you are making such amazing progress.
  • Allow yourself to come back “from the future” and breathe deeply again.
  • Come back to full consciousness – but you can bring the memory back with you.
Here’s another set of images – not so pleasant – but very important:
  • Find a comfortable place to sit – away from other people, radios, television, etc.
  • Take a few breaths – focusing on how it feels to inhale and how it feels to exhale.
  • Picture yourself sitting down in front of that ice cream and eating the whole bowl.
  • Feel how disappointed you are that you didn’t stay with your diet.
  • See yourself looking in the mirror and noting that those slacks are still too tight.
  • Soak up these feelings.
  • Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you don’t really want to experience this.
When I uses these two exercises I can build good “memories” of having accomplished my goals and I can build memories of the consequences of being led by the siren calls of the pleasure center.  Coupled together, they can help me accomplish my goals toward better health.
Continuing the conversation..... 

September 2016 Newsletter: Anticipation

From Judy
The story of Alana Nichols really impacted and struck home for me in my improving journey to age effectively. Thank you so much for this email. 
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