Mark Twain once observed that “good health and a bad memory is the key to happiness.”
While I know little about bad memory, I wholeheartedly agree with his comment on good health. In fact, without good health, very little else matters very much in life.
Unfortunately, very few of us ever give thanks for our good health. We wander aimlessly through life, without ever considering the freedom that good health provides.
The freedom to walk, to talk, to hear, to see, to smell, to touch, to laugh, to sleep well, to enjoy our friends and families, the freedom to travel, to enjoy entertainment and good food, to hike and swim and ski and skate and climb and a hundred other things I’ve failed to mention. We treat good health as some eternal right and never consider that there is no such right, and nothing in life is guaranteed.
Rather, it is only when poor health arrives that we suddenly realize what we’ve lost.
For some, the loss is temporary, for others, it is permanent. But either way, we suddenly feel sorry for ourselves, for the freedoms that we’ve lost, and the joys which have been denied to us. It is only when these events occur that we realize how good life was when we enjoyed good health.
At the same time, we all know people who seem to spend their lives complaining about their “poor” health – problems that are largely a figment of their imagination.
As a young man, I had an aunt who matched this description. For years, I felt sorry for her, but my father explained the truth to me when he noted one time that “she has enjoyed poor health for years.” These are not the people I am talking about, rather, I am speaking about those of us who have encountered real health problems, whether such problems occurred because of our jobs, our activities, accidents, or – often – poor management of our own health.
My purpose in writing this column is to encourage those of you who are in good health to consider two recommendations:
• Good health is temporary – but, you can delay the onset of poor health. How? Many ways: stop smoking; get your weight down to a healthy level; start and/or increase your amount of daily exercise; eliminate fast food from your diet; eliminate illegal drugs and marijuana from your life; reduce stress; improve your attitude towards life; throw away the TV remote and start volunteering; quit speeding; drop the “death-defying” stupid stunts that you currently stage; if you are not married, then get married, have children, get a dog; if you don’t enjoy your job now, then get a new one (as long as it’s one you do enjoy) and delay your retirement for as long as possible. Is this easy? No, of course not. But the clock is running, you better get started now.
• Enjoy your good health now and give thanks to whatever you worship for this wonderful gift you have been given. Give thanks every day, and make darn sure that you use this gift all the time. Get off the sofa and focus on helping others who need help.
Do all of this and your love of life will change dramatically (and for the better).
I will be cheering you on. Good Luck!
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.