I spent some time this week with person who shared her annual challenge of gaining weight during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
It was not just the weight gain that was causing aggravation, it was the fact that the weight stayed throughout the year until the following holiday season at which time she would add even more.
Listening to her bemoaning her weight fate, I could not help but think of those timeless words spoken by Friedrich Nietzsche more than 100 years ago,
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Victor Frankel, in his remarkable book, Man’s Search for Meaning, uses this quote several times as he defines our need for meaning as being the sole driver of our will to live. He talks of meaning as being the energy that keeps us going when things are unbearably challenging and how meaning, more than anything else, is what picks us up off the ground each and every time we are knocked down.
The topic of meaning is not new to us. We have visited it before when we have debated the notion that we only ever do one thing; we do what is most important to us in the moment.
Nietzsche said much the same thing and his quote provided a commanding insight why this lady cannot seem to rid herself of her annual escalation in weight.
Her desire to eat moderately over the season was overwhelmed by an even stronger desire to share in the festivities by “joining in with everyone else, and eating everything put in front of me.”
Participating in these holiday activities is extremely important to her, which means, by her own acknowledgement, this is more important than displaying discipline and control around her eating and drinking activities.
She agreed it was more important to her (at the time) to be seen to be joining in (why) than it was to eat sensibly even though she knew doing so would mean her own self admonishment, criticism and general feelings of disappointment and low self-worth (how).
Not for a moment am I comparing the tortured existence of concentration camp prisoners with the over-indulging first-world challenges of weight management.
I am saying that those, according to Frankel, who survived, did so because their reason to live was greater than their reason not to, and those of us who truly understand that our lives only exist moment to moment – and it is what we view as important in those moments, and consequently do in those moments – that will determine the quality of our future.
After some discussion, my friend agreed that it was nothing more than her choices – based upon her meaning – that has led to her present discomfort. She has vowed to lose the weight she has gained over the past two years by the end of June and she has further committed to “behaving like an adult next Christmas.”
Talk is cheap and she has a long road ahead of her. Time will soon tell whether her why is big enough to bear her how.
Regardless of whether she does or doesn’t, she will soon learn what is most important to her.
As will the rest of us as we pursue year those goals we have set for ourselves for 2017.
Regardless of whether we achieve them or not, we will always achieve what is most important to us in each moment.
Food for thought!
Till we read again.