Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 27, 2006
Go for the gusto in life
Treat your body and life like a gift from God says bishop
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Bishop Fred Henry says we should add joy to our lives.
By RAMON GONZALEZO
WCR Staff Writer
Say "no" to those things that can harm your body and "yes" to those things your body needs.
Calgary Bishop Fred Henry gave that advice to about 50 people March 18 during a workshop on wellness he led as part of the Catholic Education Conference.
"How we are living has a substantial effect on our physical wellness: how rapidly we age, when and from what we will die," he said. "Each one of us, in our own way, is challenged with the task of developing a full philosophy of life that will give meaning and purpose to our existence. And that means we have to make some choices."
Henry said becoming aware of our physical, psychological and spiritual wellness is part of becoming aware of the concept of stewardship. "God gives you these wonderful gifts and he says, 'Carry them lightly in your hands, look after them and develop your potential, do what you can with them and offer them back to me as a prayer of thanksgiving.'"
Today we are not only living longer "but to our delight we are also living younger longer," the bishop said. More than 30 years were added to North Americans' life expectancy in the last century.
"So we are physically young for a longer period of time now than our grandparents, parents or even the school principal or the parish priest. But on the other hand, we are facing some health hazards today that previous generations never faced before."
The three leading causes of death in North America are not heart disease, cancer and strokes. "These are the effects of other causes that we might want to call diet, pollution and stress," according to Henry.
Unhealthy lifestyle costs
"The Centre for Disease Control in the United States says that 50 per cent of the U.S. mortality rate - and there is no reason to doubt that in Canada the numbers are any different - is due to unhealthy behavioural lifestyle.
"Practically speaking stress, poor diets, environmental pollutants, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, drug misuse, the lack of exercise, the failure to comply with medical advice, harmful social conditions and inadequate health care delivery systems are much more toxic than germs and viruses.
"On a very basic level, to start to practise a healthier lifestyle you have to stop smoking, you have to be careful of alcohol, drink sensibly, get adequate sleep and engage in regular physical exercise."
Again, the Centre for Disease Control in the United States estimates that 12 per cent of U.S. mortality is directly connected to lack of exercise.
Henry said not only must we be attentive to our physical well being, which is probably the easiest of all the levels. "You also have to be committed totally to wellness and I think here you have to take into account at least two other dimensions of our being: one is our psychological reality and the other is of course our spiritual reality."
Unless you can get all three together you'll be like a three-legged stool, with one broken leg. "If one of the legs is broken, the stool is basically useless no matter how strong the other two might be."
Maintaining our youthfulness also includes developing youthful characteristics, the bishop said. "One of them is just that spirit of wonder. You have to maintain that sense of wonder about excitement, about being spontaneous, enthusiastic and the willingness to do and to learn new things."
And he said we must have fun for its own sake. "I hope we recapture, if we lost it, the capacity to play. Kids love to run just for the joy of it. For us this is to get into shape. A kid doesn't run to get into shape. He runs because running is fun."
Just for the fun of it
When playing golf, Henry recommended his audience tear up the scorecard and not keep track. "If you hit a bad shot, put another ball down and see if you can improve on it. Just play for the sake of playing."
As adults we go on vacation for the purpose of getting back to work with renewed energy. "Why don't we just take a vacation for the sake of taking a vacation?" he wondered. "To truly play, you do something just for the sake of doing it. You have to learn how to play because this keeps you alive."