Life is potentially excellent and wonderful – full of opportunities, experiences, love and laughter. Life is short, so any enemies of the potential good in our lives ought to be treated very seriously. Many of us tolerate factors in our life that steal our happiness for far too long. We learn to live with things that don’t need to be lived with.
Three of the big enemies of life that I observe in the people around me are
- Relationship breakdown
- Physical immobility.
Depression is a big one and it is affecting people of all ages. If you’ve been depressed you know what a powerful life enemy it is. Clinical depression is a chemical state where your brain and your psychological patterns are altered. You are truly not yourself. The person that replaces you is void of motivation, irritable, hopeless, sleepless, and sometimes suicidal.
Depression is often treated with mood altering drugs. These usually have the effect of flattening out both the lows and the highs of your emotions. They eliminate the threatening lows but also steal the satisfying highs. Life on anti-depressants is life-on-hold. Psychologists complain about GPs prescribing anti-depressants without implementing psychological treatment to rectify the base causes. You see, depression becomes a body-chemical state, but most often it doesn’t start that way. The causes of depression are usually lifestyle and life-event related. Chronic depression can be related to habits of thought that need to be changed – the way we view ourselves, our bodies, our situations and the patterns of relationship that ensue.
Depression can and should be avoided by making healthy lifestyle choices, limiting the stress you sign up for, modifying your diet to reduce toxic load, getting enjoyable exercise and finding forums for lighthearted activity and laughter. There’s much more too. Learning to think right is huge.
No matter how good life is, no matter how healthy you are in mind and body, if your significant other is not in harmony with you or if you are lonely for a significant other, there is a low ceiling on your happiness. That shouldn’t be read that if you have no lover you can’t be happy. Some people find relational connection in a broader group of friendships in the absence of a special one. But most of us tend to gravitate to the situation where a special someone becomes more important to us than everyone else – and we to them.
Here again, we often learn to live with a situation that is far inferior to what we hoped and, in fact, to what is achievable. We often “set and forget” with our relationships and expect that they will keep being a source of fuel for our lives. We develop relational patterns and blind spots and slowly accumulate disappointment and bitterness. “Familiarity breeds contempt” and the most high-quality people can be taken for granted. Perhaps you’re being taken for granted – perhaps you doing the taking.
Relationships need fresh frontiers, new common grounds and they need to have the input of others in natural social interaction as well as in an advisory sense where we talk about it with someone we trust and see what they think.
One great way to enrich a relationship is to become students together of someone else and learn something together. Learn photography or cooking or a language or do a class in interior decorating. Even learn a new sport, join a volleyball team, or take up water skiing or paddle boarding. In this way any power differential is leveled and you journey together without one coaching or controlling the other (hopefully). What’s more, you meet new people – new to both of you, and form “couple friendships”.
When your body restricts your activities it narrows your world and your window of opportunity. As we age, our bodies should not limit us in any activity until quite late in life. For most people this is not the reality. Even young people begin physiological decline long before their bodies reach their optimum peak age. Most of our work and study is sedentary – usually just sitting still in a chair. Our schedules rarely afford us time to climb a mountain let alone learn a physical skill. Time pressure pushes us to convenience food with its high fat and toxin content and the breakdown of our bodies follows quite quickly.
It’s not just weak muscles and heavy bodies. It’s weak cartilage, tendons and bones, it’s bad eyesight, bad digestion, bad skin. It’s a bad knee or hip or a bad back. Many of these things can be avoided or at least significantly delayed by healthy lifestyle choices – good diet, regular low-impact movement and cardio-respiratory well being.
Time For A Change
Wouldn’t it be good if we could target 2 or three of these enemies at once. What if there was one activity that helped to fight depression, relational breakdown and physical immobility. If you found a place where you could go with your partner, or meet a partner, where there is learning, a lighthearted atmosphere and laughter, low impact movement and a focus on partnership. In truth, a few of the activities already mentioned will do some of that, but few will do it as well as couples dancing.
I’d love to do a scientific study of couples that have danced regularly as a lifestyle choice. I’ll bet they are happier, stay healthier and more relationally connected than almost everyone else. I personally know some dancers who’s physical health and appearance defies their age.
Consider making your decision to dance, something that you simply lock in for your own good. Dancing is so entertaining and socially fun, that we can tend to take it or leave it as non-essential. We fall in to the trap of thinking that because something is fun that it’s not important. But if we take the above information to heart, dancing is a key factor in improving health and happiness throughout your life. Neglecting dancing could be as bad for you as neglecting to eat fruit and veg.
So come dancing. Dance for your body, for your brain and for your relationship.