“You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” Steven Adler
Why is this? Because when we lose our health, we lose many freedoms that make life worth living. A few years ago I showed up to perform a usual home cleaning estimate for a potential client. The woman was in her 40s or 50s. She told me that she put her husband away in a home due to his Alzheimer’s. It was shocking to me that something like that could happen at such a young age. Without his health, he lost his home, his marriage, and the freedom of a promising future.
Our nation has shared all the riches and success in the world, but we are losing our health. More and more people are getting sicker younger. If we lose the health of this nation, we will lose the freedoms we worked so hard for.
In my last blog I wrote about pursuing health with love. Without love there is no hope…no point. Without our health it’s hard to have freedom, and without freedom, it’s extremely difficult to have a healthy happy life.
From a purely a physical standpoint, our bodies need to be freed from the things that suppress our immune system in order to heal. But, remember health is holistic. Without freedom, there is slavery, oppression, restriction, limitation, and stress. That affects not only the physical, but the mental and spiritual. Just like we need love for our health, we need freedom for our health to thrive.
It’s not hard to understand that freedom is important to us. Soldiers sacrifice the freedom of their lives, for the freedom of their country. Have you ever been stressed financially, restricted for time, that it was so hard to be healthy? Do you think about the old times when you felt more free & physically able, or yearn for future times when you will have more time, like retirement and can finally focus on yourself and your health?
We all need freedom in order to pursue health, and in order give ourselves a wanted freedom for our future, we need to pursue our health.
Types of Freedoms
There are many ways we experience freedom. Here are some of them. You might be able to think of others. (I welcome you to share in a comment below.)
- Freedom from addiction (food or drugs)
- The Freedom of when & what to eat
- Freedom From Stress
- Freedom of time
- Physical Freedom – the freedom to get around
- Financial Freedom
- Freedom of Expression – speech, creativity, sexuality, spirituality
- Freedom to Have Purpose
When you lack freedom, you experience oppression and poor health.
The Freedom Paradox
“Freedom isn’t free.”
Sometimes sacrifice of certain freedoms is made to earn certain freedoms for later, and that is wise, but the situation we find many Americans facing in regards to their health is quite the opposite. We take freedoms now and then suffer & sacrifice for it later.
“Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.” –Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834) – English statesman, three times Prime Minister ofthe United Kingdom
The American way is very focused on our freedoms—we are very entitled to our “rights.” When the governor of New York tried to limit the size of soda pop sold in fast food joints to 16oz, the food industry took advantage of our food freedom to argue our “rights” were being taken away. Yet the rights to our health were secondary. You can’t have both. We have many freedoms today that came out of the industrial revolution such as the convenience of fast food at drive-thrus, frozen TV dinners, and machines to wash our dishes and our clothes for us. We traded in cheap food & convenience for expensive meds and an early grave.
And to top it all off, anyone can get a credit card to get anything quick now, but pay for it later, with interest and become a slave to the lender. The FINANCIAL freedom to buy a house you can’t afford….the economic collapse in 2008. If we take freedoms before sacrifice—it can get us into a lot of trouble.
Our inventions & conveniences are supposed to be saving us freedom of TIME…but have you noticed even though we have dishwashers and washing machines no one ever seems to have enough time? Could it be that these conveniences only enabled the busy-busy lives we have now?
The food industry convinced us that it would save us time with their microwave TV dinners, but instead it has allowed us to become busier, and spend less time with family. Preparing time-honored, home-cooked meals with family and enjoying at the dinner table is rare. (I meet so many people who claim to have no time to cook, or they don’t know how.) What may have been seen as an inconvenience in the past was actually slowing down life—allowing us to hold onto our culinary traditions, spend time with family, appreciate, and enjoy the time & food before us. Now we take that for granted.
My mother-in-law tells me when she was a girl she got to spend time with her mother in the kitchen washing dishes together. She said the new dishwasher took that away.
Let’s say we do have a lot more time provided by our innovations—what did our inventors ever hope we get out of it? Less stress, more time with family and friends? Unfortunately, what I witness is people screen-sucked, distracted, and connected more to the internet than to each other or to nature. We are all guilty of this. As we know, some freedoms we partake in now come with a cost. It makes me ponder: the more freedom we give our attention to our smart phones, the less freedom we will have to experience quality and depth in our relationships to our spouse and kids.
We’re so busy and strapped for time, the practice of breathing/meditation in our culture has become the hot new therapy to force us to a halt…if even for just 10 minutes. I view this trend as evidence of our desperate situation.
With all this being said, freedoms can give and take. This is the freedom paradox. (If you want to spend time with kids, cleaning the house may have to wait.) No, we can’t have it all or do it all, but that’s okay—some things are more important than others. When it comes to your HEALTH, the freedom you experience at the end of your life is determined by the freedoms you chose to keep or let go of today. When it comes to my health—I want to give up certain freedoms now in order to experience more freedom for my health later. It’s like saving for what I call my “health retirement.” I have to save up my health now so I have a savings to live off of later.
The American Freedom Lie
Freedom is earned, and freedoms are prioritized. The truth is, you can’t have everything. You must decide what you want, and what you need to let go of.
It’s an American lie told to millennials—“you can have it all.”
My boss told me that the American attitude is “you can eat whatever you want, and then just fix it later.” But there is always a cost. Spend your money on fast food and convenience now, and later you’ll be dealing with waiting lines for antacids and you’re body may struggle to get around later.
If you want to gloat in the freedom of eating whatever you want and just fix it later, like a typical American attitude, you’ll be trading in the freedom to feel your toes because your diabetic neuropathy was worth eating whatever you wanted. (Good news: go find a functional medicine doctor and put in the hard work to reverse it!)
How Do You Pursue Freedom?
“Live like no one else today, so that later you will live like no one else.” –Dave Ramsey, Christian financial guru.
How? Answer: You prioritize what you really value in life and then make the sacrifice for it.
A big theme here in this blog post is that choosing freedom may mean letting go of certain conveniences. If what you want is truly worth it to you, you may have to give up certain things in order to get it. How does one to pursue health with freedom? Health is long-term, so you have to view it like a savings account. Invest NOW, so you will gain the benefits of your health freedom later.
Below are steps to pursuing freedom. Get out a pen and paper.
STEP ONE: pursuing freedom begins with TRUTH.
(Denial only gets us into trouble later on.) Jesus once said, “the truth will set you free.” The first step towards freedom in your health is to get clear on what’s important to you. (Get rid of society’s expectations for you and its definition of “success.”)
Write down a list of your top 5 core values in your life. Imagine being an old person at the end of your life. If you accomplished only 5 main things in your life and work, what would they be? (These values can be emotions, feelings, or accomplishments, whatever your definition of success is for you.)
Write them down.
Prioritize them in order of importance.
Now, rate each value from 1-10 on how much these values are present in your life and work now.
I imagine I am an old lady and my example is:
- Positive, having fun, joyful, having a good time
- Experience deep connection, companionship & community
- Positive impact on others, purposeful
- Creative, expressive, & artistic
- Physical strength and ability to get around well
STEP TWO: believe in your values, and know they may change.
Jesus said “the truth sets you free,” BUT it’s not that automatic. The truth itself doesn’t set you free, believing truth sets you free. This is because believing leads to ACTION—and it’s in that action that leads to experiencing freedom.
Our society and media do a great job brainwashing us into believing its version of truth & success. In order to start believing in what is important to you, you have to remind yourself every day, because society does a great job influencing its values onto us every day. Social media & TV says to look and dress a certain way and follow the “ideal” standard American dream. You have the freedom to think for yourself!
Hang up your core values on your bathroom mirror where you get ready to remind yourself everyday what’s important for you.
If you find that a value you chose does not resonate deeply with you anymore, don’t hold onto it.
STEP THREE: Take Action & Make Sacrifice.
Next to each value, write down what action you will take toward that value and if necessary, the sacrifice you may have to make for it.
If your value is physical ability for traveling the world during retirement, make the sacrifice to carve out time to do exercise and build strength.
If your value is deep relationships leave your phone at home and connect with people across from you.
If you value financial freedom, sacrifice spending money on nonessential things to save money and pay off debt.
If you value your health & being disease-free, sacrifice the convenience of fast food and start cooking.
If you value positivity, sacrifice complaining and start a gratitude journal.
Yes, you’ll be sacrificing certain “freedoms” now to earn a healthy body & life later. Earning freedom is hard work, but the payoff is worth it as you attain what’s most important to you.
A WARNING ABOUT INACTION:
Many freedoms come with a cost and we have to decide what we WANT and what freedoms we are willing to lose in order to attain others. If you chose inaction, the cost could mean disappointment, regret, and pain at the end of your life.
The Freedom (power) of having Responsibility
We’ve all heard, “with great power comes great responsibility.” What kind of responsibility will you have over your health? You have the freedom to make healthy or unhealthy choices. Our choices have consequences, whether acute & immediate or chronic & accumulative.
I listened to a woman’s cancer story and one of her mentors asked her, “How will you take responsibility for this?” She was appalled to hear that because having cancer wasn’t her fault…but then she realized that taking responsibility had more to do with how you RESPOND in any situation. Taking responsibility gives you back your power because it’s you who gets to respond. You can choose to be a victim, or a victor.
You have freedom to make good choices and bad choices with consequences to your health, and you have the freedom to respond like a victim or a victor in any circumstance, even if it’s not your fault.
Victors take responsibility, they choose freedom not oppression, they choose gratitude, they choose forgiveness, and they can move on. Victors are free.
The Freedom to Make Mistakes
The freedom to take responsibility over your health also comes with the freedom to make mistakes. I personally experience this just like everyone else out there. Sometimes mistakes will lead us into consequences that we can learn from.
For example, after a long time of eating healthy, family came in town for my grandma’s memorial. Everyone brought all the wrong foods to our home—sugar, carbs, alcohol… and after partaking and indulging in it, the next day I could feel a sore throat and felt sick. I could tell I lowered my immune system.
Sometimes we sabotage ourselves to realize something is really bad for us. Unfortunately, learning the hard way can mean going through a more serious ordeal. I have listened to testimonies of people saying that getting cancer was what brought them out of a stressful way of life because it forced them to start over completely, find healthier relationships, and find a deeper level of gratitude than they had before.
The Freedom of Forgiveness
The only way to move past your mistakes is to move from a victim mindset to a victor-mindset. The only way to be a victor is through self-forgiveness and gratitude. You have the freedom to have power over your health and make change, you have the freedom to make mistakes, and you also get the freedom to learn and grow so that no matter what, you choose to benefit. It’s wonderful that you have the freedom of forgiveness, so that you can move on.
It may be that what’s holding you back in health is the need to forgive someone else. I listened to a story Barbara O’Neill told in a video lecture about a young girl who experienced rape. She was so angry and was holding on. It was affecting her own health. Barbara helped her find freedom when she said to her: forgiving your offender isn’t about setting them free from what they’ve done and it being “okay,” it’s about setting yourself free. Do it for YOU.
Your Health Journey should lead to Freedom
No matter what your values, freedom is a universal value deeply needed by all to thrive in life. That’s why it’s the second pillar to my three-phase health journey. The first pillar begins your journey with Love, then you continue to pursue health with the second pillar, Freedom. The third pillar to your health journey is Purpose (which will be discussed in the next blog post.)
Through my own observation of the Circle of Life, The Bluezones’ “Power 9,” and elsewhere, I have determined that everything boils down to three universal core values: Love, Freedom, and Purpose.