Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Not that Diets Don't Work...'s that YOU don't work.

I discovered this fact this past summer. And this doesn't apply just to diets. It applies to everything. This post is about your (I mean you and me - us human beings) orientation to the world around you and yourself.

This discovery came in the form of reading a few paragraphs in a book entitled Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating by Geneen Roth. Ms. Roth had followed every diet known to man and had gotten nowhere except heavier. One day she had enough. She chose to give up dieting, to eat whatever she wanted and listen to her body. This was the beginning of orienting herself to how her body did with the foods she ate.

She began to learn because she focused not on wanting to be thin, but on the facts as they presented themselves. It wasn't that she didn't want to be thin in some kind of way, but rather that she gave up forcing herself to be thin. If what was natural for her was to be a little heavier than her picture of how she ought to be, then so be it. There are plenty of studies that show that those with a little fat live longer anyway.

But none of this is the thrust of this story. The crucial thing is the orientation to reality. And, one's body is a real thing in a real world. It works in a particular way because it has identity. One's body is unique but it is a specific unique existent within an unique class of existents known as human being.

Once you listen to your body, you start to see how it operates and what makes it hum like a finely tuned engine and what keeps it from doing that. At this point you come smack dab up against your habits, some of which may be good and some of which may be harmful. So now what do you do?

Do you listen to what the facts are telling you or do you continue indulging your habits? This is the question that separates the objectivists from the subjectivists - those that shape their lives related to the facts and those that indulge their feelings or follow what others say.

What I've found is that the more I am in harmony with the facts and use them to guide me, the more motivated I am. I may try something, but I don't give up a habit until I am motivated to give it up based on the evidence I have gathered. If I am not ready, there is more to be learned. I know that my life and its quality is kept in existence by my choice. There is a connection of the facts all the way down to this choice. I have discovered an integration of mind and body that I never knew before.

No longer do I need to read spiritual books or take spirituality courses. Those are evidence of the non-integration of the mind and body, known as the mind/body split. In an integrated existence one's spiritual life is never separated from living. It is always present and oh so gratifying and luscious that the unification of one's self is real. You know it because you live it. It's what I've always wanted.

Resignation, that deep feeling of having given up on something important, is not a part of this world. The important things come roaring back except they are now in a context of reality. Some of those things were a product of the split and when grounded in reality you know you are really not interested in them.

Of course it is always possible that you could have made a mistake in your identification of the facts. There are no guarantees. One has to do the work of thinking - i.e., using the mind, man's particular form of consciousness which is his basic means of survival. This means applying logic and integrating one's identifications with the rest of one's knowledge. It only works if the identification is consistent with reality and the rest of what you know to be true to reality.

Feelings, although providing valuable information in regard to your underlying values, are not a means of cognition. They will not help you live as you would, in your heart of hearts, like to live. (I'm thinking joyous and serene possessing the knowledge that you are fully capable to live as you want.) They can only be an indirect signpost, provided you correctly identify the value giving rise to them, of your values. And, the value that your feelings are telling you has either been threatened or supported may be rational, i.e. consistent with reality, or irrational, i.e., inconsistent with reality.

What I am doing, instead of spirituality courses, is taking morality courses to learn more about the principles of living that work for human being and why they work. In fact, I'm leading a workshop on the subject. Nine of us are engaged in this inquiry and learning process.

Once you begin to unravel the mystery that is yourself, you will find that you now have some real information upon which you can build your life. You can check to see if your values are rational given that you are a particular kind of existent. If so, then you are free to choose any of the zillions of ways of fulfilling on that value. And it will work for you and you will experience joy and happiness.

Joy is the emotion one feels when he achieves a value. One can feel joy even if the value he achieves is irrational, although it does not have the same full, rich, deep quality that it has if one achieves a life-sustaining rational value.

Happiness is the emotion one feels when he achieves a rational value and he knows it is rational. Happiness is fundamental and enduring, being in harmony with the nature of you as human being and is ultimately about one's character - the set of principles and habits which source one to act in life, in the fullest sense possible for human being, in a self-sustaining way. It is the reward for being moral.

Back to the diet saga. One day I ran out of my daily multi-vitamin tablets. I had long had a question about the value of those tablets since with the abundance of food it seemed to me that one's body would find what it needs in there someplace. I didn't replace them. One day I noticed that I wanted to eat tomatoes. So I did. I realized that the vitamin tablets had masked the information I needed to truly enjoy and savor my food. What a difference. Cooking has become so much fun.

The principles of this story have now become applied in every area of my life from politics to friends I choose to my budgeting to any of my activities where I wonder how it really works. I already know a lot. I was just using that info for the wrong reasons and I didn't get the payoff - happiness.

Happy Holidays.

1 comment:

Rob Diego said...

So the way to lose weight is to be rational, practice independence, live with integrity, honesty, practice justice, productiveness and pride.

I like it.