Why do I only appreciate my health after I get sick? | India News

A few months back I had food poisoning. The sequence of events that led to my collapse began with a carton of discounted grocery store sushi I bought and consumed on a Thursday, which caused me a slight restlessness on Friday, turning me into a 12-hour stretch of vomiting. Gone and held myself in a fetal position, until my legs ached from dehydration. The smell of my partner cooking breakfast on Saturday still giddy me; I sipped water, took a proper nap, and munched on little golf balls of white rice.

But Sunday, glorious Sunday, I woke up to a wonderful lack of pain and fatigue. The fog of mind was gone. My skin felt full of fluids. Encouraged by the recovery, I found myself behaving with uncharacteristic calmness. When I dropped and broke a ceramic bowl while unloading the dishwasher, I didn’t curse and passed out. Instead, I blew the shark away with cheer. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I was my normal self again, and it felt sublime.

Yet as I enjoyed my newfound bliss, a foreboding thought dawned on me: I knew that as the hours passed and the ghost of the disease receded, my new outlook would also fade. Much of my euphoria was defined by carrying the burden of absence, pain, and shivering. It will only be a matter of time until normal is back to normal again, and I’ll be back to worrying about all the little things I’ve always worried about.

People have different baselines of health, and some people are more or less appreciative of what they are in any situation. Nevertheless, humans have long lamented the momentary joy of respite. Emotion manifests in all kinds of situations: meeting a deadline, passing a test, finishing a marathon. And it can be especially acute in matters of welfare. Thomas Fuller, a 17th-century British scholar, wrote, “Health is of no value until disease comes.” Or as the 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer lamented: “Just as we do not feel the health of our whole body, but only a small spot where the shoe pricks, so we do our well-functioning affairs.” We do not think of the totality of the

In other words, many of us are very bad at appreciating good health when we are fortunate enough to have it. And anyone experiencing this sublime gratitude is unlikely to hold it for long. Indeed, by Monday morning, the post-recovery glow had faded; I was engrossed in email and rework, unaware that just 60 hours ago I could barely sit up straight in bed, let alone at my desk. This bothered me. Am I cursed to be like this forever? Or is there anything I can do to change?

To some extent, I’m sorry to report, the answer might be no. While certainly some people may have experiences of major illness or injury that alter their entire outlook on life, the tendency to forget runs much deeper in the human psyche. UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons told me that we have limited resources, so in the interest of survival, our brain doesn’t waste time focusing on systems that are working well. Instead, our brains evolved to identify threats and problems. Psychologists call this negativity bias: We focus more on what is right than what is wrong. If your body is in control, our mind argues, it’s better to stress about a project that’s overdue or about a conflict with your friend than to feel that everything is okay.

A second psychological phenomenon that may work against any lasting happiness in recovery from illness is hedonic adaptation, the belief that after positive or negative life events, we basically become used to our new circumstances and return to baseline levels of subjective well-being. Hedonic adaptations have been used to explain why, in the long term, people who won the lottery were no happier than those who didn’t, And why romantic partners lose passion, enthusiasm, and admiration each other over time,

Arguably, adaptation should not be viewed as a major tragedy. For health, in particular, there is an element of practicality in human capacity to exist without being fussy. we are like this supposed to operate. “If our body isn’t giving us problems, it really doesn’t pay to be grateful all the time. You should be using your mental energy on other things,” says Amy Gordon, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. told me. For example, if we had to feel our clothes on our bodies all day long, we would be constantly distracted, she said. (It’s actually a symptom of some chronic disorders, like fibromyalgia—Lauren Zalevsky, a writer who was diagnosed with both fibromyalgia and lupus 22 years ago, told me it makes her skin sensitive to touch, As if he has a persistent flu.)

All that said, there are real costs to taking health lightly. For one, it can make you less healthy, if you don’t take care of yourself as a result. For another, maintaining some level of praise is a good way to avoid becoming an entitled jerk. For example, during pandemics, “the language has been around how ‘only’ people who die are ‘old people’ or people who are pre-existing,” as if these deaths were more acceptable, says Emily Taylor. , a vice president for the Long-Covid Alliance, a group that advocates for research into post-viral diseases, told me. Taylor argued that acknowledging that our own health is weak – and of course, many of us are going to get older – can counteract this kind of apathy and help people get older and have chronic conditions or conditions. Can encourage people with disabilities to be treated with more respect and kindness.

In my view, there is something to be achieved on a personal level as well. In recent years I have seen friends and loved ones deal with life-changing injuries and diagnoses. I know that one’s circumstances can trigger a phone call or a moment of inattention. To be healthy, to meet basic needs – life being so “normal”, it’s even a little boring – is a luxury. While I am living in those blessedly impeccable times, I do not want my fate to escape my attention. When things are good, I want to know how well I have it.

What I want is to really hold on to the feeling of gratitude. in the field of psychology, Thankfulness Could be something of a loaded term. Over the past decade, articles, podcast episodes, self-help books, research papers, celebrities, and wellness influencers alike have praised the benefits of being grateful. (Oprah Famous kept a gratitude journal For more than a decade.) Sometimes, the popularity of gratitude is to its own detriment: the modern-day gratitude movement. has been criticized to exaggerate its potential benefits and a. to advance Western, Rich and Privileged Perspectives Which may ignore the realities of extreme suffering or systemic injustice. It’s also annoying to be constantly told that you really should be more grateful for stuff.

But the reason gratitude has become such a popular concept is because of the plentiful research that points to a real emotional uplift, Feeling grateful is associated with better life satisfaction, an increased sense of well-being, and a greater ability to form and maintain relationships, among other benefits. (Research on the Effects of Gratitude Body Health is inconclusive.) To me, however, the bridge is less scientific and more general: Good health, or learning to appreciate day-to-day boons like food in the fridge, feels like being able to tap into a renewable source of satisfaction. Finding stress in life is always so easy. Let me remember the things about smiling too.

One way to make the most of gratitude may be to redefine how people think about it. A popular misconception, Emmons told me over email, is that gratitude is positive. Emotion Which is the result of something good happening to us. (This may also be the reason why it can be hard to appreciate conditions like health that for many people remain constant from day to day.) Gratitude is a feeling, but it can also be a disposition, some researchers say. Special thanks”. Some people are more susceptible to feeling grateful than others because of factors such as genetics and personality. But Emmons says that such “indefinite gratitude” can also be learned by developing habits that contribute to a persistent, ambient awareness, rather than a conditioned response to ever-changing circumstances.

What does it look like, practically speaking? “I don’t know how grateful we can feel every moment with every breath that we’re breathing. That’s a very tall order,” Gordon says. “But that’s not to say that you can feel guilty about it at some point in your day. For example, if you’re recovering from a cold, you might practice pausing whenever you’re on your way out the door, to understand what life’s going to do. Don’t have a stuffy nose before moving on. Another trick Emmons has is to reflect on your worst moments, like when you’ve been sick too many times. “Our brain thinks in counterfactual terms,” ​​he said, which is a comparison between the way things are and how they can be.” When we remember how hard life used to be and how far we’ve come, we see a stark contrast in our minds. establish, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratitude.”

You can also think of gratitude as a verb, Emmons. written, This is close to the historical notion of gratitude, which as early as Roman days was associated with ideas such as duty and reciprocity – when someone does something for us, we are expected to return the favor, whether it is thanking them, Paying them back, or paying it forward. In that sense, being grateful for your body probably means doing your best to take care of it (and, perhaps, avoiding risky behaviors like rolling the dice at discount grocery store sushi).

In 2015, Fibromyalgia author Lauren Zalevsky founded an online community that supports people living with chronic pain by helping to cultivate a grateful mindset. She tells me that before her diagnosis, she took her health lightly and “beat her body.” Now, she eats a vegetarian diet, takes supplements, does yoga, stretches, sleeps more, and sunbathes regularly – these are small things that she has personally done to help manage her constant pain. Found helpful. “So when I am a seriously ill person,” she says, “I consider myself very healthy.”

Given my food-poisoning incident, I think I was prepared to reflect more deeply than usual on topics of illness and health. In the last two and a half years, I’ve seen the COVID-19 show that anyone can get sick, maybe seriously. Now, as the head of the World Health Organization tells us, “The end is in sight“As for the pandemic (and President Biden controversially declares a pandemic), it is tempting to imagine that humanity is on the verge of waking up to the morning after a hellish disease.

It is perhaps delusional to hope that even a global pandemic could induce some sort of long-term collective mental shift about the instability of health and life. I haven’t been a fundamentally different person after recovering from my guts even a few months ago. But maybe the simple act of remembering the health we still have in the wake of the pandemic could make a small difference in the way we move forward – if not as a society, then at least as individuals. I’m sure I won’t be able to completely put an end to my tendency to take my body for granted until it’s too late. But for now, every day, I still get a golden opportunity to try. And I would like to take it.

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