In Peter Singer’s book, How Are We To Live, two interesting points are made:
In order for the world we live in to sustain billions of us, we need to move on from consumption being the main source of fulfillment. I would annotate this with - move on from unsustainable consumption.
Linked to the above, once we have our basic needs met, it appears that no further level of attainment provides lasting fulfilment…in other words we adapt to the stuff we have and do not become happier the more we accumulate.
If consuming or getting more and more things does not lead to a fulfilling life, then it would make sense to stop ruining our planet and health in the attempt to consume more. Easier said than done right?
Well perhaps. There is no arguing that it feels like a challenge to overcome and move away from the way we are used to living, because it is embedded in the very structure of our society - from all levels of government and planning, to the nature of our economy and our sense of safety with our work.
And yet changes are happening and indeed must happen. Our youth are out in numbers protesting the lack of action towards dealing with climate change. There are leaders in the world acting from the view of human value over pure economics while retaining the realities of what is required for a functioning society to work. There are businesses and initiatives looking toward and developing solutions for sustainable growth or lateral thinking towards development.
How does all this link to health, fitness and performance? Well I think most of us have felt the challenge of wanting to be a part of positive change in the world and not knowing where to start. My view is that one way to start is by undertaking a self-evaluation of our state of health and fitness for life i.e. whether or not you are operating at the best level you can in order to make sound, value-based and sustainable decisions with a clear mind. Decisions that lead to effective actions. Actions that lead to change at a macro level when we all participate.
If you are tired, sick, distracted, grumpy, stress or depressed, chances are you will struggle to take the first step and in turn the small actions or habits that lead to bigger change.
So while on the surface it may seem self-indulgent or individually focused to prioritise your health and fitness, I suggest it actually is our responsibility to do so, particularly if we are lucky enough to live under circumstances with which we have the luxury of the choice. Even if done in the name of a ”bikini body” or ”washboard abs”, if that incentive carrot gets us started along the way, it still is better than the alternative.
So next time you are setting time for the gym or to cook a healthy meal or take time out for rest and recovery, you can celebrate also the first steps toward the change we need world-wide for the future of humanity. A bold statement perhaps, but without a bold change in thinking with related action, there won’t be the bigger changes we all need.