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Culture Shift for Personal Change
Social norms, attitudes and values shape ‘the way we do things around here.’ Whether at home, work or school, they are powerful dictators of the choices we make that affect our wellbeing. A culture that rewards being busy, for example, or being lean, can leave us stressed, food obsessed and fighting against our bodies’ true need for rest or nutrition.
That’s why a culture shift can help make healthy choices, easier choices – whether it’s a mini culture-shift in our daily lives or a macro shift within an organisation or community.
The Need for De-conditioning
Cultural De-conditioning is an essential skill for healthy living. It involves examining the extent to which we’ve bought into socially prescribed values or beliefs, and assessing whether they serve our wellbeing. In short, it helps free us from ideals that make us sick:
- The superwoman ideal, which runs women ragged.
- Our work ideals that link self worth to what we ‘do’ for a living, and that keep us always on the go and working like a dog.
- Our body ideals, which send us on dangerous diets, under the knife and deprive us of the peace of self-acceptance.
Moment by moment, our bodies tell us what we need to do, now, to re-establish wellbeing. If only we would listen. Our hunger and fullness signals tell us when to eat and when to stop. Our circadian rhythms tell us when we need to rest or sleep, and physical discomfort or tension indicates when we might need to change posture, move or relax.
Learning to listen to our bodies, understand its signals, and respond, is a vital health skill that can serve us for life. It’s the foundational skill of body intelligence.
Pleasure doesn’t just feel good; it is good for us, especially our immune systems. In contrast fear, moralism and guilt take a heavy toll on our health. Learn how to make health pleasurable and we can double the boost to our wellbeing. Leave the pleasure out, and our health routines become punishment regimes. Over time we can learn to appreciate the lasting good feelings – versus instant gratification – that body honouring choices can bring.
Good/Bad approaches to health are more likely to create righteousness and guilt than long-term health success. And guilt is a highly stressful emotion, which in itself can undermine wellbeing. When we take moralism out of health education and support, a new freedom emerges for people to make healthy changes from a place of choice, rather than a fear of failure or being bad.
Less is More
This concept is highly undervalued in our Western approach to fitness. But we can derive more benefit from small health efforts if we bring heightened conscious awareness to all that we do. And the neat thing is, that small changes can make a big difference to our overall wellbeing.