As we put this, our “Mind/Body” issue, together I kept thinking of that old bumper sticker: “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” A mildly amusing phrase, but true of so many situations. You only get angry about things that matter. You only seek out and work hard for accolades, money, status, or whatever it is that matters to you. Physicians tell us, for example, that if a patient has a lack of libido but does not have a complaint about it, then it is not a medical issue. If the patient has a complaint, if s/he minds that there is a lack of libido, then it becomes a medical issue.
If we apply this to health and fitness, we may see people who are too thin, or weak, or (as we are all too aware) obese. These are the people for whom and through whom an entire industry of diet and exercise solutions thrives. Some of these people—okay, maybe we are the people—are perpetually starting over after falling off the workout or diet wagon. Nevertheless, it matters to us that we are not as fit as we could be. It is a problem that we seek to fix.
But what of the people who do not mind that they are unfit? If you don’t mind that you have trouble getting in and out of a car, if you don’t mind that you can’t lift or stretch to reach certain items in your activities of daily living, wouldn’t that mean there is some underlying reason? And wouldn’t it be worth it to try to look into that? Of course it’s easier not to explore the reasons. It’s less risky because you may wind up having to confront old (or new) conflicts that you have safely shelved. You may wind up changed.
In watching documentaries or reality TV shows about physical transformation, there is inevitably an emotional breakdown, or breakthrough, that—at least in these neatly and professionally edited versions of life—becomes the turning point. Why? Because the obese or unfit person ultimately uncovers something that matters. Usually it matters a lot. Often, the thing that matters is something the person felt unable to change for whatever reason. It would follow, then, that what we feel unable to change we must, therefore, stop caring about; it has to stop mattering to us.
But minding is what we want to do—in fact, we want to do it so much that we sometimes try to mind someone else’s business…until they tell us to mind our own. What are you minding these days? Are you minding things that other people are doing to you more than you are minding what you do for yourself? Are you more negative about things that are happening rather than finding the positive things that make you and your family happy? Alternatively, what matters to you? It seems like this would be the place to start. How often do you take time to assess what matters most to you? It’s sometimes associated with a New Year’s resolution ritual, this concept of reflecting on what matters.
The start of the school year is as good a time as any to contemplate what matters to you and then see if you are minding those things. If you are fit and healthy and your family is fit and healthy, then (with apologies to Descartes and his arguments for Dualism), your mind/body integration may be in a place of balance. If you have family or friends who are not healthy, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to mind their business in this way. It is a common situation—one of the most popular stories from our website last year was Tricia Minnick’s piece on her intervention with a relative who was not fit. If you mind, it matters; and if it matters, you should mind—for yourself, your family, and your community.
Minding the health and fitness of people who matter to us is not always well received. But just like any other intervention, the alternative is to watch bad things happen and then regret not saying something when there was still time. Good luck out there and let’s help each other mind what matters!