HOW LONG DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?
There once was a very wise teacher, who always seemed to have
the right answer to each problem presented to her by the members
of her class. One day a boy decided to place the teacher in an
impossible situation. No matter how she answered his question it
could he the wrong answer. He came before the class with a small
bird he had found and said, “Tell me, teacher, since you are so wise,
is the bird in my hand dead or alive?” If the teacher replied
“Dead,” the boy would open his hand and let the little bird fly away.
If the teacher answered, “The bird is alive,” the boy would squeeze
his hand until the bird was dead and then show the teacher a dead
bird. But since the teacher was very wise, she simply replied,
“Whether the bird is alive or dead, it’s as you decide.”
How long do you want to live’? It’s as you decide! For man is that unique creature who does not just repeat that pattern of his existence, but is continually asking the “why?” of his existence.
I must make it clear that when I talk of life, it is more than just existence. It’s more than just how many birthdays a person had until his life was snuffed out.
The question “How long do you want to live’?” is a somewhat strange question in our youth-oriented society. One where turning thirty for some is a crisis; where growing old is for someone else. Life for some is for swinging and swapping.
Then why is it 1 see so many unhappy swingers in therapy,who can no longer hide behind their synthetic laughter, their mod clothes, and too much alcohol? The term “beautiful people” is basically used to describe external appearances and a frenzied lifestyle. It’s the show. It’s what’s up front that counts. But do we see a person’s inner beauty’? In fact, do we even know what to look for in other people, much less in ourselves’? Do we recognize true meaning and beauty’?
How many people do you admire for their zest for life? No matter how old they are, they are still full of wonder and amazement at life around them. These people seem to have found a sense of meaning and purpose to their life. I know some people like this, and to be with them is to be captured by the power of their presence. It feels good!
Albert Einstein once said, “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental devotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not, can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement . . . is as good as dead, a snuffed out candle.”
“Wait a minute”, you say. “We live in a rotten time—the Vietnams, the Watergates, the cynicism, guilt, failure and paranoia. We should gain some perspective of history. Man’s history has always had that side of it which shows his inhumanity to man. I shall always remember the first time I read Victor Frankel’s account of his experiences in a German death camp in the book From Death Camp to Existential-isn, and his constant quote from Nietzsche, saying “He who has a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
Nor shall I ever forget the night that I heard Frankel speak in person in Berkeley, California. I guarantee you that if you or I ever attempt to indulge in self-pity, the book which is now entitled Man’s Search For Meaning’ will turn off our negative tapes called the Ain’t Fair Blues.
Under the most dehumanizing and deprived condition, barely existing in the shadow of a tall smokestack. Frankel writes of how people need to believe in the future and in some future goal; to discover a “why” in the midst of starvation, brutality and death. For those who saw no sense or purpose to life, there was no point carrying on and they soon died. It’s hard to convince people in situations like this that there is something more to expect from life. Frankel writes, “What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves; and furthermore we had to teach the despairing men that it really did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those being questioned by life, daily and hourly. Our answers must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answers to its problems, and to fulfill the task which it constantly sets before each individual. Thus, each of us is left to discover on our own our own beliefs and commitments that gives our lives meaning. This a person can only decide for himself.”
One does not have to be a prophet to realize that something is drastically missing and lacking in too many of our lives. To quote T.S. Eliot’s Choruses from the Rock, “Where is the life we have lost in living’? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we lost in information’? The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries bring us farther from God, and nearer to death.” From my own personal belief, we are in trouble because we have lost a spiritual relationship. Church attendance in the 50s showed a bandwagon of religion, full of activity and the building of churches. Everybody went to church. And then in the 60s, with the violence, the revolution on campuses, the turmoil, cities being burned, war in Vietnam and the drug culture, people were in a state of bewilderment and floundering. They withdrew from the church in disillusionment, and there seemed to be no answers. Many people said that God was dead. I think that the “God is Dead” movement reflected not so much on God’s well-being, but on the emptiness and hollowness of men. And yet today, I sense a new beginning; a low-key one; people quietly searching for something more to their lives. People are discovering again the truth that man does not live by pizza and beer alone.
Years ago I remember watching a television show about a man who rode a commuter train to and from work each day. As he looked out the window he saw a rerun of his life the turning points in his life; the alternatives that he faced; decisions that he had made; and how they affected the course of his life. After he reviewed his life, he concluded that if he were to live his life over, he would make only one change; he would take time to pick more daisies. What he was trying to say was instead of being so involved in climbing the ladder of success, always rushing to catch one more train, rushing through life to die, that he would stop, get out of the rut and routine of daily life and pick more daisies. He would slow down and meditate, and be refreshed by the beauty of God’s world.
I don’t know how many years ago I saw that program on television—maybe fifteen—but I saw myself as the one compulsively rushing through life. It’s no coincidence that each spring our home in the desert in Arizona is surrounded by beautiful African daisies. I know that 1 need to be constantly reminded to take time to pick more daisies; to quietly greet a sunrise in the desert, and gratefully enjoy the wild quail, doves and other birds and animals that come and feed in our yard each day. I’m reminded of a friend who said a long time ago, “Don’t worry about things. You already have life and a body, and they are far more important than what you eat or wear. Birds don’t worry about what to eat. Our Heavenly Father feeds them, and you are far more valuable to him than they are. Will your worries add a single moment to your life’?”
If I asked you to name your most valuable possession you might be startled for a moment and begin to think of material things, or even your family, but I’m sure after a moment’s reflection I could convince you that your most valuable possession is your health. You could be a millionaire, but if you were paralyzed, what value would money have without your physical and emotional health?
Now if you will agree with me that physical and emotional health is our most valuable possession, why do we say on one hand we value health and life and still do so many self-destructive things to ourselves? Since we have been warned about smoking cigarettes, we are smoking more cigarettes than ever before. We eat too much, but we are not winning our fight against being overweight. We eat too little of the foods which provide us with good nutrition. A news report said recently that 50 percent of teenagers in America suffer from malnutrition. This is not due to poverty, but to our poor dietary habits, laced with too many junk foods and sugar. We drink alcohol to the point that alcoholism is the number one drug problem of teenagers and adults. We believe too much in magic pills from the medicine man to take away all of our worries for the day. We exercise too little, and wonder why we are sluggish and prone to heart attacks. We are more concerned about the maintenance of our automobiles than we are about our physical and emotional health.
Health and Medical Services
Critical problems in the health professions—the high cost of medical and hospital service, insurance problems, financial liability, malpractice, poor distributions of physicians—are highly vital issues today. They are so vital, that I must admit they are beyond the scope of this book, and the solutions beyond my expertise. The basic issue I would like to discuss is that of health or disease as a philosophy for the healing professions.
The philosophy of a health model versus a disease model in treating people is at the core of so many of the problems I have listed previously. Health insurance companies reward people for being sick and hospitalized. It does not pay, generally, for office visits designed to keep a person healthy and out of the hospital. Even if the physician hospitalizes a person, and has done a recent series of tests, these most likely will be repeated in the hospital along with a great many more than may be necessary, because this is a source of income to the hospital. With the problems of malpractice, physicians are practicing defensive medicine and ordering more tests than necessary as a hedge against a lawsuit.
When a person becomes sick, it’s a great temptation to get a lot of mileage out of being sick and being the center of attention. How many times we make jokes about “Let me tell you about my operation,” or “If you think you have it bad, just let me tell you about my miserable health!” I remember the time that the minister in our church in Phoenix, Pete Lindsay, took his 5-year-old Linda with him on a sick call one Sunday afternoon at a nursing home. When Pastor Pete asked a woman, How’s everything going?” she told him, and told him, and told him for an hour about how miserable she was. Finally he broke into the recitation and said, “Let’s pray.” After a short prayer he turned and walked out with his daughter who turned at the doorway and said to the lady, with a child’s truth, “You take an enema, and you’ll feel a lot better.”
We have VA hospitals and disability insurance which serve a meaningful purpose, but there is also a subtle tendency to reward a person for being ill, and to make it too profitable for him financially to admit that he is well and able to function. If a person gives up these advantages and takes the responsibility for his own support, then it would cost him financial benefits. One of the most difficult challenges I meet in therapy, are not in the nature of the problems a person has, but in the training and encouragement a person receives from physicians and families on how to be a miserable patient. By becoming a patient, the person is relieved of the personal responsibility for his health as well as personal responsibility for getting better. Self-pity is the most destructive of all narcotics.
Jesus once came upon a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. He had been lying by the pool of Bethesda, waiting to be healed. When the water was stirred up by an angel the first person into the water was the only one healed. In all those years he had never made it in time. Jesus said to him, “Do you want to be healed’?” The fact he had been there a long time gave evidence of a desire to be healed, but he had been waiting for someone to help him into the pool. Now he was faced with a piercing, personal responsibility for his own health, and was told to rise, take up his pallet and walk. He took responsibility for his health, he obeyed and was healed.
The power of healing is within each of us. Physicians only prepare the way and the process for healing to occur. A physician can do everything in his power to save a life, but if a person says no to life, he becomes worse and eventually dies. No one can be responsible ultimately for the question, “How long do you want to live?” but you.......it’s as you decide!
Since 1965. 1 have developed an ever-increasing interest and dedication to the dental profession. People are always perplexed when they see the certificate in my office that 1 belong to the American Society for Preventive Dentistry or when they know that I am leaving town br a speaking engagement in dentistry. Truthfully, I was invited to a study club of Dentists in Phoenix in 1965 to talk about the art of listening and communication as it would apply to dentistry Later I became very dedicated to dentistry when I was asked to he a teacher on a dental seminar for husbands and wives in Maui. Hawaii. I became so dedicated to dentistry that I 1 rededicate myself at least once or twice a year by going to beautiful Maui, Hawaii Seriously. dentistry has been built on a disease model, rather than on a health model. I he results of dental care have not been satisfactory. cit her to the patient or the dentist.
An article in the National Observer, reported that, according to the United States Public Health Service, 98 % of all Americans have cavities. The average American has five unfilled cavities, and half of all children have at least one by the age of two years. Twenty million of 110 million adults have lost all of their teeth. Another 22.5 million suffer from severe periodontal problems. Half the nation’s children have gingivitis (an inflamation of the soft gum tissue that often leads to periodontal disease).
Dental disease is a major health problem, affecting everyone in the United States. And yet it is probably one of the most ignored health problems we have. People take better care of their armpits than they do their mouths. And yet from an inter- personal point of view, we never kiss armpits, hut we kiss mouth-to-mouth. Seldom does anyone ever die from complications arising from dental disease. It’s tragic that people will so passively and apathetically accept slow destruction of their mouth when dental disease could be as rare as polio. The mouth is a primary sex contact between people. It is the very emotional center of a person’s being. Yet why are so many people willing to commit oral suicide?
and things called teeth. Neglected in their training is the basic fact that teeth are connected to people’s emotions about fear, love, hate, guilt, youth and aging. The dental professionals, including dental hygienists, are led to the erroneous belief that they are the ones responsible for dental health of the patients. In fact they earn a living from patient’s dental disease, for cleaning, polishing, filling, drilling, capping, making bridges and dentures.
Is there any hope for preventing dental disease? You and I have been told to brush our teeth twice a day, and see our dentist at least twice a year. Does that stop dental disease? No, the disease goes on. Dr. Robert Barkley has called tooth brushing the great American hoax. Dr. Barkley says that by using the brush in a highly skilled manner, you can achieve removal of bacteria from about 85 % of your tooth surface. This is where about 15 % of your dental disease originates. The 15% that you consistently miss is where 85 % of all dental disease occurs. In other words, there is a fungus among us—in our mouth that’s causing dental disease. As Roger Miller wrote in his song, You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, you can’t get a tooth brush between your teeth to remove and disorganize a colony of bacteria called plaque. The problem is not that we have bacteria, in our mouth, but the state of disorganization of the bacteria colonies is the factor. Flossing between the teeth and around the gum lines with tooth brushing disorganizes the colonies of bacteria which take about 30 hours to reorganize. Just remember, 30 hours after you’ve gone for your six-month examination and had your teeth cleaned, the plaque is back at work unless it’s thoroughly disorganized every 24-hours, and not promoted by being fed refined sugar.
A large percentage of dentists recognize the need to change and improve their skills in working with people. Modern high-speed drills, analgesics for reducing pain, dental assistants to speed up the time, and many more new skills and interest in preventing dental disease and teaching people good nutrition are happening, but dentists need your assistance to help the profession change from a disease profession to a health profession.
First you must make a decision to be the one responsible for the health of your oral cavity. If you want a disease contract with your dentist say, now, doctor, I fully realize that with a disease contact I am in charge of the relationship as a dental patient. All I expect from you is to slow down the disease process, fill teeth, relieve me from pain from an abscessed tooth, pull teeth that can’t be saved, fix up the destructive aftermath from dental disease with crowns and bridges—and then eventually fit me with dentures.” Remember the dental disease contract is very expensive. It costs thousands of dollars, hours of time waiting in dental offices sitting in a dental chair, walking the floor at night with a throbbing toothache and finally receiving substitute teeth as the grand prize.
I’m serious when I say you have a right to choose dental disease contracts as a basis for your relationship to the dental profession. You also have the right to a dental health relationship with the dental profession. A dental health contract means that you assume primary personal responsibility for maintaining a healthy oral cavity, with a dental team as a supporting cast. The goal of a dental health contract is to save your teeth, money, time, pain and let you have a youthful mouth as long as you live. Remember dental health isn’t expensive, but dental disease is very expensive. If you want to see a shocked dentist and a perplexed dental staff, just talk to them about the following subjects before any treatment is initiated unless it is a painful toothache:
I. Start off by stating that you want a health contract
and that you realize that the responsibility for maintaining
the health of the oral cavity is in your hands.
2. Ask the dentist and his staff to teach you to have a
healthy mouth; to teach you how to floss daily to disorganize
the colonies of bacterial plaque; to analyze your nutritional
habits and recommend a good nutritional life style. If they
haven’t fainted by then, you can ask them if they are
engaged in preventive dentistry. Ask for a thorough exam.
Be sure to ask the dentist and his staff about health problems
you would like to discuss, allergies to medications, any
stresses and changes in your life in the past year and how
they may have affected the health of the tissue in your
mouth. Ask for a complete set of x-rays. Since dentists are
not all equal in ability, be wary of a dentist who is eager
to pull your teeth and sell you dentures. A good exam will
include a screening for cancer and a discussion about the
health of the gum tissue.
Bleeding gums are a sign of a periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is very sneaky and often painless, but
is so destructive that if it is not corrected it can result even
in bone loss. Your dentist may take a routine blood pressure.
It you arc having a headache that starts where the
jawbone is connected to your ear, you may have a faulty
occlusion which is the way the teeth fit, or don’t fit, as they
come together. If you are grinding your teeth at night, talk
to a dentist about it. I here should be an open and free
discussion of fees for service. Don’t fuss about a fee for
learning how to prevent dental disease. It is the best money
you will ever spend for dental health insurance.
A health contract will help you keep your teeth, save
you money and pain for the rest of your life. That’s something
worth smiling about, isn’t it?
Now you’ve heard my dentistry spiel . . . thank you! But it does stress the need for a shift from disease model to health model. As a psycho-therapist, I focus upon what’s eating a person, and how his negative tapes can be very destructive to his emotional life as well as his physical being. I try to take a multifaceted approach to understand a person. What a person thinks and experiences emotionally can effect his digestive process; alter his delicate endocrine balance; cause changes in blood pressure; cause changes in the temperature of the body; cause the skin to erupt with disorders.
Over a long period of emotional stress, physiological changes can occur which cause a person to become susceptible to a disease. When I began to read and hear more and more about nutrition and health, I first reacted indifferently and apathetically. Fanatics have always pushed my “off’ button. The medical profession was quick to dispute and debunk articles and books on vitamins, diets and other claims made by nutrition people. Then I began to realize that the average physician knows little or nothing about nutrition because it was a very neglected field of study in medical school. When a person thinks he has all the answers, any new data to the contrary can easily be dismissed by a wave of the hand. I tried to learn what I could about nutrition and its aid to health. I am a long way from being an expert, but I do feel that more good scientific research is needed.
Let’s see where we can share some common experiences. Have you ever tried a fad or crash diet to lose weight? How did you feel when you were dieting? Did you become nervous, jittery, depressed or short tempered? Did you suffer anxiety and poor sleep? Furthermore, did you ever take diet pills or diet shots to help you lose weight fast, and then feel like you were wired with nervous energy or at times like you were losing your mind? After all this self-induced torture, did you keep the weight off or gain it all back? When a person has suffered so much on a diet, he deserves to reward himself and reverts to the old eating pattern that made him overweight in the beginning. So he yo-yo’s through life!
The medical profession has come to the conclusion that diet pills and shots are not useful and should not be used for losing weight. They can be dangerous to emotional stability as well as play havoc with metabolic balance. The answer to being overweight is a complete change of life style so that one receives the optimum
nutritional value in food with the proper vitamins and minerals.
The first step is to eliminate refined sugars!
Sugar is dangerous? Are you kidding? No! I’m not kidding.
Dr. John Yudkin makes these two bold statements in his book Sweet and Dangerous.
(1) There is no physiological requirement for sugar. All human
nutritional needs can be met in full without having to take a single
spoon of white, raw or brown sugar.
(2) If only a small fraction of what is known about the effects of
sugar were to be revealed in relation to other material used as a
food additive, the material would promptly be banned.
Sugar consumption has risen close to an annual 120 pounds per
person. In terms of the sugar intake on a weekly basis, the average
person eats nothing hut sugar every fourth day.
In an article by Clair Pierre, entitled The Nutrition Dilemma, it is estimated that the U.S. pays a health bill of 30 billion dollars annually for illnesses related to faulty nutrition. Junk food, candy, snack foods -donuts, potato chips, soft drinks, etc.-----account for more than 35 % of a typical American family’s food budget. Research is linking the rise of hyperactivity in children to food additives like food coloring. Cholesterol-rich diets, with hydrogenated fats, disturb the cholesterol metabolism. This does not help prevent heart disease.
Nutritional deficiencies are not confined to the poor, but are rampant among the privileged and affluent, and especially the young people in our country. The result, says Pierre, is an unbelievable roster of diet-linked diseases. Diabetes, hypertension and obesity and its potential dysfunctions of kidney, liver and gall bladder. Anemia is widespread among adolescent girls. Dental decay, hypoglycemia, even retardation and arthritis are on the suspected list, and so are certain kinds of mental illness (these are a matter of great controversy).
The brain cells are fed by the blood and what it brings in it. Some exciting research shows evidence that some forms of depression may he induced by a lack of essential amino acids from protein to nourish the brain cells.
For years medicine has known that alcoholics frequently suffer from malnutrition but the malnutrition was thought to be the result of the alcoholism and not a participating factor predisposing or causing alcoholism. Dr. Roger Williams in his book, Nutrition Against Disease, strongly states that no one who follows good . nutrition practices ever becomes alcoholic. Dr. Williams conducted research to show that the wrong diet can create an alcoholic.
One group of rats on high-carbohydrate diet drank the equivalent of a human’s consumption of a quart of 100 proof whiskey a day. The second group of rats were on a high-carbohydrate diet fortified with vitamins and minerals. They consumed only ¼ as much alcohol as the first group. The third group, on a nutritionally- balanced human diet, generally preferred water instead of alcohol. In group one, after several weeks, sugar was added to the alcohol solution and these rats became even heavier drinkers. When they were put on a balanced diet, they gradually became ex-alcoholics. Dr. Williams’ research has been duplicated at Loma Linda University in California.
One of the first questions I ask an ex-alcoholic now is to tell me what and when he eats during an average day. Very often the ex-alcoholic follows the same poor nutritional eating pattern he had before and during his alcoholism. I wonder if this is why there are so many dry alcoholics who are difficult to live with. Their spouses
sometimes secretly wish that their partner would go back to drinking alcohol because they were almost easier to live with!
Dr. Cheraskin and Dr. Ringsdorf talk about the optimal diet in their book Psycho-Diatetics in which good nutrition includes meat, seafood and poultry. Foods should not be fried. Fresh vegetables and fruits are necessary. Whole grain foods with no chemical additives, dry roasted nuts, unhydrogenated peanut butter are fine. Foods to be used sparingly are butter on potatoes and vegetable oil. One should reduce the intake of salt, coffee and tea. Avoid such foods as sugar, hydrogenated fat, food preservatives such as nitrates and nitrites, artificial flavoring and coloring additives.
These comments on nutrition are to open your thinking processes and to encourage you to explore this exciting field. I don’t believe anyone has all the answers, but it is worthwhile trying to understand the whole person and to explore the whole field of nutrition. Good nutrition is one of the ways to good health, and to keeping your health.
CAN YOU WAIT ‘TILL FRIDAY? .......the psychology of HOPE.
Copyright @ 1975 by: Kenneth J. Olson, (pgs. 133 - 143)
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