Happiness & Health Happen One Small Step at a Time

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash!

by Connie Hernandez, ND

I imagine we’re all familiar with these encouraging words (from Chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching): “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  

Even the greatest challenges will begin to seem doable when we can break them down into small steps.

It’s relatively easy to take a single small step, but the project before us may seem impossible until we can gain a clear understanding where we’re going and the steps to get there.

(It’s why New Year’s resolutions have such a notoriously high failure rate.)

Failure begins in the mind: “Oh, gosh, it’s just one damn thing after the other.” “I thought I was done! – and now it seems I’ve only climbed the first of countless hills at the foot of a vast mountain range!”

When the goal posts recede, how can stay happily motivated, adjust our perspective, keep our shining goal firmly fixed in our mind, and find the courage to keep plodding?

Before we take that first small step, it will greatly help us to understand the process, visualize the journey, and get a clear picture of the goal.

Success begins with being real. What are you really wanting to achieve? Your actual goal may be not so much the action itself, but the emotional, spiritual, or physical side-effects of success.

What is it you truly want to achieve when you set out on your journey?

Is your goal to feel better? To have greater energy? To feel more alive, younger and able to master your physical challenges?

Perhaps your first thought is to exercise more or to change your eating habits, toward a greater goal of losing weight and feeling healthier and more emotionally calm and balanced.

With your goal clearly in mind – “I want to feel better!” – think through the small, manageable steps that will take you there.

Maybe you’ll start with short walks in a beautiful park, with a secondary goal of making it a regular, enjoyable part of your life. That’s the first small step. Perhaps the second will be to pick up the pace at least once during your short walks and run hard for up to 25 steps – always by your own free happy choice, and not “by the book” or as a fixed rule or with a grim sense of duty. The key is enjoyment.

Same for those pesky diet changes – you aren’t going to be suddenly shifting to a fanatic diet of wheat grass and tofu – you’re simply going to substitute healthier foods and dishes that are equally enjoyable.

Give yourself time. This is part of being real. Radical changes are difficult. Small changes are easy. Repeating small enjoyable steps will help you avoid setbacks, re-sets, discouragement, and failure, and help you keep on track toward the goal.

You’re unlikely to succeed if you try to lea from eating virtually no vegetables, to eating seven servings a day. Nor will today’s couch potato instantly become tomorrow’s athlete. For non

-meditators, “being real” is learning a simple meditation practice and setting up an environment that fosters a meditative mood, then committing to going into your meditation space at regular times, perhaps upon waking and when returning from work, or before bedtime.

Keep your practice short, simple, and enjoyable. I recommend doing some simple breathing exercises that balance the autonomic nervous system and will bring you to a point of calm from which you may slip into meditation.

Over time, you’ll establish an enjoyable habit, and five minutes in your pleasant meditation space will evolve into fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes.

Set yourself up for success. Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Environment is stronger than will power.” Surround yourself with supportive friends who share your goals or who are committed to positive self-change. If you’re eliminating alcohol, an alcoholic friend will not be a good support. Friends who secretly or openly want to keep you in your place are not true friends.

Develop your will. I love an affirmation that Yogananda gave as part of the instructions for doing his Energization Exercises: “Within me lies the energy to accomplish all that I will to do. Behind my every act is God’s infinite power.” 

Make no excuses. There’s an infinite supply of excuses for not doing the right thing. While there may be extenuating circumstances, excuses are mostly a symptom of the blahs and vapors. Don’t worry if, unlike a superhero, you can’t leap to the challenge of fighting for the good.

Give yourself a moment to think of why you resolved to do better in the first place – and how great you’ll feel after doing what’s right. Keep a sense of humor – “It won’t kill me, and I’ll feel a godlike power after I eat the leftover salad instead of the bagel.”

Don’t look for instant progress. Wait at least a month or longer before evaluating your progress. Judging your success to often amidst the swirling daily ups and downs may lead to discouragement. After six months, you’ll be amazed and profoundly proud and encouraged to see how far you’ve come.

Again, be real and take the long view. Progress is messy – know that you are succeeding as long as you’re moving in the right direction. A favorite acronym of ultramarathon runners is “RFP.” Relentless Forward Progress – i.e., it doesn’t matter if you’re crawling or sprinting, as long as you’re moving in the right direction. Winston Church, Britain’s wartime prime minister, had his own favorite acronym: “KBO.” “Keep buggering on.”

Dr. Connie: 650-961-1660

Breast Thermography at Pacific Naturopathic

Breast thermography gives us a thermal risk rating (TH number). However, neither the TH number or the images of heat or vascular patterns can give us information about the cause of a problem, nor does it provide a diagnosis.

It is up to the patient and practitioner to find the root cause for a heightened risk rating. These may include: lymphatic congestion (with its own underlying causes), inflammation caused by dietary indiscretion or injury, dental issues reflected in the breast, and even cancer.

An advantage of breast thermography is that once we’ve addressed the underlying cause, a second subsequent thermography will let us know if the treatment has been effective. If the thermal risk rating remains high, or if a cause cannot be determined, and/or breast health does not improve with treatment, other diagnostics may be required.

Read more about breast thermography at Pacific Naturopathic HERE.

For information about the services we offer, we invite you to get in touch in any of these convenient ways: (1) give us a call at 650-961-1660, (2) use the Contact Form, or (3) follow the link to Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!