Sometimes, it’s ok to be selfish. In fact, when it comes to this area of our lives, it’s mandatory!
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane before, you know the pre-flight drill that the flight attendants take you through. The one part that immediately caught my attention the first time I heard it was the part about what to do in the event that the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling. The instructions are to put yours on first, and then assist your child or companion or anyone else next to you second, if necessary. The assumption is that if they need help putting on their mask, you won’t be of any help to them if you become incapacitated from not putting yours on. And if they can’t put their own on, how less likely will they be able to help you put yours on?
The interesting thing is that this philosophy and practice should be applied to our daily lives as well, when it comes to our own health and well-being. In other words, we need to give ourselves permission to be selfish in this area.
Think about it: if you are neglecting your health–be it physical, emotional, or mental–because you’re running around serving others first, eventually it will catch up to you and incapacitate you. There is a wise saying that says if you don’t make time for wellness, you’ll have to make time for illness. And when that happens, how effective will you be in helping and serving the ones who are depending on you?
Probably, not much.
I have been neglecting my physical health for awhile which has resulted in low stamina, low strength and some weight gain.
Fortunately, I have a hiking trip with my youngest son coming up this summer for which I need to start preparing. This is a repeat of a trip I took about 6 years ago with my older son, which you can read about here if you’re interested. I need to get out of stupor and nonchalance and into shape, or I am going to be a liability to the whole group and more importantly, a liability to my son.
So I bought new running shoes, I’ve tuned up my bike and I’ve started adjusting my diet with some guidance from Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body.
But it shouldn’t take a major event like this to motivate us to take care of ourselves. It’s like the inside joke my wife and I have about cleaning our house: when it needs to be cleaned, we probably need to invite some company over to produce the necessary motivation.
The Bible refers to our bodies as “a temple” (1 Corinthians 6:19), so that alone should be sufficient reason to be good stewards of it and keep it in good shape.
So, here are three steps to becoming selfish with your health:
- Be selfish–carve out some time for yourself, whether it’s exercise or meditation or quiet reading time. Make an appointment with yourself, for yourself, and keep it!
- Start small–If you want to lose weight, start by adjusting just one meal a day. Tim Ferriss makes this point in the chapter about the Slow-Carb diet. If you want to get in shape, start by just walking around the block. The point is to START.
- Stay consistent–Then it will become a habit, and we are creatures of habit. Kevin Miller, the host of the Zig Ziglar podcast, says it is easier to maintain good health and fitness than it is to let it deteriorate and try to rebuild it.
I am calling myself out here and asking you to keep me accountable. My goal is to lose about 15-20 pounds, build up some muscle and strength, so that I can attack the Mt. Whitney hike with my son this August. And if you have a fitness goal, I’d be happy to be your accountability partner.
For your advantage,