Life is not a Stress Rehearsal”

“ According to the Bloomberg Global Health Index a baby born in Italy can expect to live to be an octogenarian. When it comes to living a long life, Italy is the place to be. Even through they suffer from economic woes, and that 40% of their youngsters are out of jobs they rank first in being the healthiest in the world”. Ironically the United States comes in 34th with an obesity rate of 67.3 percent.
When I read the above I was honestly stunned. Part of me shouted, Yes, Yes, of course. My response is certainly predicated on the fact that I am Italian and have relatives that lived well into their nineties. I grew up watching many of them smoking, drinking wine, eating sausages, cheese, pasta and lots of expresso. They also ate a lot of vegetables and fruits. The Italians, like many other Europeans, smoke which should elicit a shorter life span but hasn’t in Italy. We have spent years eliminating smoking from our culture which I know is a much better choice, but it has not necessarily helped us to live longer.
Where the conundrum lies for me is the amount of effort that is put into trying to change health habits in America which don’t seem to be working. We continue to promote products that take the place of real food in lieu of food that replicates their taste through chemicals. A famous soda company recently unveiled a drink that has zero calories and no sugar. The replacement for the sugar is aspartame which has been shown to create health problems. The list of chemicals contained in some sodas and foods often feels analogous to what you might find on a paint can.
I think one of the most important issues that effect health and longevity is the fact that Italians are not workaholics. Their average workweek is 36 hours. They also take time to eat lunch, have four weeks vacation, and spend a lot of time with friends and family. We have become addicted to being available to our workplace 24/7. In order to break away from work, chores and our incredible attachment to gadgets, we try to fit in some down time when possible. Instead of making relaxation, fun, and connection to the important people in our lives, we try to find a space to give them somewhere in our crowded schedule.
We are also suffering from a great deal of stress which is the end product of feeling like we are on a runaway train. Our perpetual need to fill each day with multiple tasks and to keep trying to keep up with the constant flow of information is creating a culture riddled with anxiety. It’s time to start realizing that “ Life is not a Stress Rehearsal!”

Posted in Get a Life | 2 Comments

Parenting with Humor

I’ve been asked over and over: How do I parent with humor? My standard response is: “I don’t know how you parent with humor. I got my sense of humor back when the kids left.” Naturally, that’s not immediately helpful, but it does give us reason to continue living.
Parenting is probably one of the most difficult things we’ll ever have to do. Never mind the stressors associated with just trying to live your own life. Now we are taking on directing, managing, and being responsible for the outcome of someone else’s life.
This is serious business, and it creates a lot of worry for parents. Simply stated, it means that we must somehow help to create an individual who can stand alone financially, socially, and emotionally. I’m always hearing about how difficult it is to raise a child in today’s world because of the many issues that they are faced with including the many households that are handled by single parents.
These are certainly valid concerns, but I believe they have been exacerbated by an excessive need to parent through the never ending babble of pop psychology. It seems to me that many of the parenting books have made the needs of the child paramount to the needs of the entire family. Creating respect for your needs may be one of the ways you can begin to reduce parental stress, and that in turn actually may loosen you up so you can enjoy your kids a little.
Role-modeling joyful, optimistic behavior is probably one of the best ways to get yourself out of some of your worry habits and to have a happier family. Our everyday conversations and body language are in setting the tone for our children’s behavior.
When you drag yourself out of bed everyday and tell everyone how tired you are, then you yell at your kids to get up, get dressed, and be cheerful while they’re doing it, you’re giving them mixed messages, at best. If you’re hurrying around exclaiming what an awful day you’re going to have, how much you have to do—and they’d better hurry too, you’ve set the tone for tension and conflict before the day’s even begun. If you and your spouse are yelling at each other, another layer of negativity and fear have been added to your kids’ day. And if you put all your worrying onto your kids, they’re going to see things in a pretty negative light. Try to omit words like always, never, everyday to make a point. It simply makes behavior harder to change. Be specific with what you want to change and give solutions. Incorporate some humor which allows children to grow up realizing that being more light-hearted makes life easier. But remember it all starts with you, the parent.

Posted in Get a Life | Leave a comment