The question is not “What is comfortable or tastes good or is convenient?” Rather, it concerns those things without which you wouldn’t survive. Many people in the world are faced with this question every day. For those of us who aren’t, it can be interesting to think about it as we eat, shop, or reflect on our lives. It is also interesting to reflect on those things that enrich our lives—that make our lives more meaningful or more fulfilling. There may be a lot of things that we consume or pursue that we think will enrich us but that ultimately don’t add anything of substance.
Times like these can feel like a slow car accident. You’re in a skid and you know the crash is coming, but it hasn’t arrived yet.
Reading the news and learning about the severity and extent of the disease—the number of deaths and the impact on the economy—can cause a state of extreme stress and anxiety. Then you go about your day, and you experience all the typical sounds of your house. You see cars going by as if nothing has changed. You run into people you know at the grocery store and chat about your kids and how your families are holding up. You stop and get gas on your way home. Even though circumstances are inexorably changed, so many aspects of our lives feel exactly the same.
Taking care of yourself is not optional.Many of us, when prioritizing our time and assessing our demands and opportunities, put things like exercise, meditation, and communing with nature pretty low on the list. They might feel that they have to take care of tasks that are required or necessary before activities that they might feel are luxuries or are self-indulgent.But self-care is not “time off” or down time. It is a critical part of living a healthy and balanced life.
You hear people with relatively affluent suburban lives saying this. Although it might mean that the person is actually hungry, it’s more likely that they just want some food, either because they’re looking forward to a meal, they’re thinking about a certain food, or they’re just bored.
Unfortunately, there are lots of people who are actually starving in the world.
Whenever my son says this, or something like this, I remind him that he’s not actually starving and ask him if he actually feels hungry. I ask him to pay attention to the signals his mind and body are sending him and to identify them intentionally. I also tell him that it’s OK to periodically be hungry. Maintaining a hungry feeling can be healthy—it can train us to not immediately start wolfing down food when we have that feeling. We’re not meant to be full all the time.
Between my busy schedule and my tendency toward insomnia, I know what it feels like to be tired. Everyone feels tired from time to time. Being tired is part of life, and it’s natural to be tired: it’s our bodies signaling to us when we need to get some rest.
Many of us have a healthy relationship with being tired. We might overdo it on occasion, we might burn the midnight oil, we may have long days at the end of which we stretch and yawn and head for the sweet relief of a pillow, a fluffy comforter, and a dark room.
But for some, being tired is a permanent state. They never ever get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is their new normal.