Choosing Quality Instead of Quantity
When I was working for a health insurance company early in my career, there was a period of time when we used the tag line “live longer better.” I thought this was great because there were endless amounts of studies that said by adopting healthier habits lifespan could be increased or risk of death could be decreased by certain percentages. I later came to realize that this focus was all wrong to living a fulfilling life.
I was young and passionate about prevention in the health field which is where I focused my career. My role was helping people have access to programs that taught them how to be healthy by eating right, exercising, smoking cessation, reducing stress, etc. I really thought I was helping people live longer and that was rewarding.
Then life happened and my perspective changed. I still believe in the work that I did, but it was a stepping stone as I later discovered. My husband lost his mother at age 59 to aggressive brain cancer, her battle lasting only 6 short months. A few years later I lost my dad to a sudden heart attack at the age of 58. The grieving process included questioning my beliefs from all aspects. It was a journey that took quite some time. I’ll spare you the details, but I can tell you that I’m grateful for all of it; the pain, the sadness, the doubt, the fear, the faith, the love and support of others, basically the good, the bad and the ugly.
My realization was that in my personal life and in my career I had to shift my perspective in order to be authentic. The truth was that no matter what I taught people or what changes I made for myself, I could not promise that anyone would live longer. There are just too many uncontrollable variables. In good conscience, I could not make this the focus of my teaching moving forward.
I had to now figure out what goal I could assure people of, and it took one conversation with a client to know for sure what that was. I was working with a man in his 50's who didn’t have the healthiest of habits, particularly that he had been a smoker since he was 16 years old. We discussed smoking cessation but he felt that there would be no benefit to stopping at that point. Damage had been done and if it was going to kill him, it would do just that anyway.
Before this conversation he was telling me all about his relationship with his niece and how he stepped in as a father figure for her. The love and pride he had for her was blatant. My response to his concern was this, I couldn’t promise him that he would live longer if he quit smoking, even though studies showed otherwise. What I could assure him of was that he could live a life of more quality by feeling better. He could enjoy the time he has with his niece and be there for her to the best of his ability. Making health changes isn’t about quantity of life, it’s about quality of life, and both of them deserved this. Whatever opportunities life afforded him, he could enjoy them more fully if he felt better. This seemed to resonate with him and it resonated with me.
From that point on my focus has been on quality instead of quantity, both personally and professionally. We all can control our quality to some extent. By being present and in the moment, we can enjoy things big and small. Personally, I decided that I can’t control the time I’m on this earth, but I will live a life of quality for whatever time that may be.
Changing your perspective to one of quality instead of quantity will help you live the life you truly deserve.
To learn more about Jill Sodini and her work visit, www.habitualhealthbyjill.com.