The Next Right Thing
The next right thing by Julie Zepp Rutledge
Last night I watched the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon. Here is the trailer:
It’s well worth the watch, predictable as it is, it both hits home and inspires. And it is actually inspired by a real life woman, a friend of the writer and director’s. I feel it’s three big take-away messages are:
1. In this movie the main character is confronted by the reality that her physical, mental and emotional health are all being challenged and she is given a wake-up call from a doctor who asks her to make difficult lifestyle changes in lieu of giving her medication. Initially she has trouble wrapping her head around the cause and effect, that her nights of drinking, her poor lifestyle habits, food choices, toxic relationships and lack of exercise could have anything to do with her difficulties with focus and concentration and energy and on making something of her life. It is a testament to how poor we can be at listening to our bodies! Our bodies are always speaking to us and as I am frequently known to say: “when we listen to our bodies when they whisper, we don’t have to hear them scream.” The first step starts with stepping out of denial and towards awareness and accepting responsibility for our choices.
We see this a lot, as Naturopathic Doctors, patients that come to us with ailments for which they want remedies, however the ailments themselves are but leaves on a diseased tree. What we need to do is to treat the soil, the roots and the trunk of the tree through emphasis on the fundamentals of health: water, physical activity, fresh air, sunshine, healthy nutrition, proper rest and sleep and nurturing relationships, first and foremost the relationship we have with ourselves.
2. Sometimes health can feel overwhelming and we don’t know where to start. When confronted with the knowledge of her very real health issues, Brittany embarks on a program to start running. She is motivated by a kind neighbour who reminds her to start with just one small thing. A Lao Tzu quote that I love and refer to time and time again when I feel overwhelmed: “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” She starts with a block. One single block. And eventually works herself up to the New York City marathon.
3. A classic “avoidant”, used to toxic relationships, Brittany tries to push her new well-meaning running friends away, not used to experiencing true support. It is a great example that while we are the only ones that can do our work, truly, no one can make changes for us: not our friends, doctors, healers, counselors, spouses, parents, etc. Truly the onus is on us. We pick up the fork, we put one foot in front of the other, we say “yes” or “no”. HOWEVER, if we were meant to do it alone, we would have been given our own planets! Instead we are all here together and one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is learn to ask for help, receive help and lean on others. Community is key to healing.
The bottom line is, no matter what your health goals might be, chunk it down! First, get honest with yourself. Without any judgment on yourself, but rather a neutral inventory: what is working for you and what isn’t? Figure out where you need to make changes and set about getting the support you need to help you out. While goals are important, take it one step at a time. I like to remind myself, and others, that I only have control over the moment right in front of me. Which means that when I can be a mindful steward of the present moment and make the best choice for myself at that moment, these moments lead the way to a life filled with healthy habits.
So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself: “what is the next right thing I can do for myself?” and do just that one thing. Maybe it is having a glass of water, taking a walk, having a nap, making a smoothie*, having a good cry. Commit to learn to listen to, honour and follow your body’s whispers and you can create a healthy and joyful life.
Need help? Reach out! We are happy to act as your guides and coaches on your personal journeys!
*because I love a good recipe, and your ‘next right thing’ might be making yourself a healthy smoothie, here are a few options for healthy next-right breakfast ideas!
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