Most health-conscious individuals will have at some point been asked, about one aspect of their lifestyle choices, “Why bother?” usually followed by “We’re all going to die anyway, might as well enjoy ourselves while we’re here. The more I question myself about why I bother, the more it comes down to one basic premise… that surely prevention is better than cure.
The potential negative consequences of ‘enjoying’ oneself in the context of excessive drinking, smoking, eating processed food etc are too concerning for me to ignore. Although I do agree in principle that life’s too short for regrets, I’m pretty sure that if I were diagnosed with lung cancer I would suddenly regret every cigarette I’ve ever smoked (actually I already do regret that).
I’ve heard countless tales of people being diagnosed with illness who suddenly realise that they have a choice and that they can minimise the risks that an unhealthy lifestyle and attitude potentially has, and they start juicing and eating organic food and meditating to manage their stress levels.
[It’s at this point that I will acknowledge that there is plenty of conflicting evidence around what causes cancer et al (environmental pollutants, pesticides and chemicals, stress etc) and that we may never know for sure what has been the root of our demise. But my instinct tells me that all of those things can’t possibly be good for our health.]
So back to ‘Why bother?’ I reckon there are two options:
1. I could say to myself, “I don’t know for sure that stress causes illness, so until my doctor says “Your levels of cortisone have caused a massive brain tumour to grow” then I’m going to work 15 hours a day in a negative environment, I’m never going to have time to chew my food, or sit quietly and watch the birds catching flies, or read a book from cover to cover in one sitting. But I will earn lots of money that will ensure I have a comfortable retirement when I can do all of those things all day long”
2. I could say to myself “I don’t know for sure that stress causes illness, but my instinct is that it’s probably a factor, so I’m going to practice yoga and meditation every day, I’m going to find work that fulfils me and that I enjoy, so that my stress levels are as low as possible and I can try and enjoy every potential beautiful moment on this planet.”
Why bother? Because I am bothered. I can be bothered to look after my body, before ‘not bothered’ becomes a whole load of bother.