Brilliant, Boring Health
(October 25, 2016)
You have noticed this by now for sure, but for the sake of this little essay let me state the obvious: We live in a society that celebrates constant variety and stimulation. It does not admire or tolerate dullness or sameness. And this is a sad thing, because it means that something that is “boring” is underappreciated and unloved.
"Boring" means dull, but it also means smooth sailing and no bumps in the road, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are some things that are just not meant to be exciting. Take banking, for example. Banking should be boring. An unexpected surprise in one's mortgage payment is not desirable, no matter how interesting it might make paying bills that month.
Likewise government. Government should be boring. Roads should be paved, bridges should be repaired, and kids should get educated, and it should all go like clockwork. Governing ought to be a total snooze. Politicians scrambling to explain interesting revelations or unusual expenditures is not something that anyone really wants to see.
You can see that in that vein, health should be boring too. In fact, health IS boring. Disease and other medical problems are a lot more dramatic and exciting. Ask any television programming executive. Of course most of us would choose to do without that kind of excitement in real life. Unfortunately for us, then, good health habits, are really, really dull.
In a nutshell, health is moderation. And moderation, to the Western mind, is as deadly dull as you can get. EXTREME is where people like to go, and where they like to pretend they live. And it is for that reason as much as any other, I think, that people end up going down so many bizarre paths in the name of health. Just to try to jazz things up a little.
It seems like every week someone asks me about a new weird supplement that supposedly does something we already know how to do by following known guidelines. (Exercise. Sleep. Eat good food, not too much, mostly vegetables. Reduce stress. See? Boring.) At least partly because what we already know lacks the glitter of something new, and the unknown can always pique one's interest.
I promise you that there is not an undiscovered tribe in the Amazon eating some kind of fruit that only grows there, and living to be 120 that way. Those tribes that live to be a hundred healthy years old eat simple food, get a lot of exercise and have very little stress. Stuff that WE ALREADY KNOW.
We don't know absolutely everything about staying healthy. But we know a big part of it. And when we finally know it all, there still won't be a royal road to health. So I would like to encourage everyone to focus on implementing what we do know now, rather than focusing on what we've yet to find out, and fix what we know we should fix.
You know what else is boring? Reading an essay about it :-) I wrote a much longer one, but it was murder to read. So I will quit here. Thank you for going this far with me today.
--dr. diane holmes
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