R—Restoration, E—Exercise, A—Attitude, D–Diet
The first days of this seminar were marked by my rigid diet. I was a month or two after open-heart surgery and being given a diet. Carole listened to, read and researched experts. My diet consisted of very little meat. I consumed protein from shakes and followed the best medical wisdom. That means I consumed and talked a lot about oatmeal, bagels and other carbs.
Of course almost every dietary “law” of that day has been discounted or changed. Cholesterol is no longer the biggest threat, although my doctor is pleased that mine is in a good range. I wonder if he is going to put a happy face sticker on my forehead.
In the face of that, I don’t talk much about diet anymore. I’m still concerned about nutrition. I’m not going to suggest what you should or should not eat. For decades, I didn’t eat donuts, ice cream, candy or sweet rolls, but now I long for cookies, pie and cake like a smoker wants a cigarette.
If we had the money we’ve spent on books about diets and dieting, we could make a down payment on a new car. My family is very knowledgeable about food, vitamins, supplements and how they contribute to body and brain function. I have settled here: Nutrition, moderation, common sense, listening to your body and biblical wisdom is a good way to go.
Dan Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones as a concept and author of The Blue Zones. (National Geographic, 2012.) In recent weeks, the Seventh Day Adventists have purchased Buettner’s company. Blue Zones is a life-enhancing read.
In early reporting, COVID-19 was linked to obesity, at least recovery was connected to dietary health habits. Since body resiliency is part of dealing with the pandemic, Blue Zone habits can be a tool.
A RATIONAL DIET
A rational diet in contrast to an emotional diet. This diet is good news—it helps us live long, healthy and productive lives. Somewhere in this series I have talked about exercise and diet including fresh air, plenty of sunshine and bare feet and fingers in the soil. This approach to nutrition reconnects us and energizes us. The subtitle to my book, Mosquito Park Secrets, is “How to Live Outrageously Happy Lives.” Westerners who live the Blue Zone lifestyle contend the good news effect is outrageous.
Buettner found LOMA LINDA’S BLUE ZONE SECRETS
Find a sanctuary in time. (One day in seven.)
Maintain a healthy body mass index.
Get regular, moderate exercise.
Spend time with like-minded friends.
Snack on nuts.
Give something back
Eat meat in moderation
Eat an early, light dinner.
Put more plants in your diet.
Drink plenty of water.
I now know at least two words used in Okinawa. Ikigai-–the reason to get up in the morning. And, moai—the tradition of forming a moai provides secure social networks. “Always someone there for me.” That is some diet!
A HEALTHY DIET OF PERCEPTION
Early on in this world-wide pandemic, I began to pray for friends and family specifically to enhance their emotional, mental, spiritual immune system. These seemed important to me:
Plans, Perspective, Proportion, Peace, Productivity
I left out the most important element: Perception.
Perception is easily defined by the twelve God sent into Canaan to spy out the land and report what they found. The twelve all saw the same beautiful and bountiful land as well as the giants and barriers. Each group had a multi-colored picture in mind. The twelve described the giants’ size; the other two said, “take a look at the size of grapes.
Ten said, “We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31).
Joshua and Caleb reported, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it—we can do this!” (Numbers 13:30).
“Perception is all there is.”
That declaration by business writer Tom Peters and then others, seemed wrong, wrong to me. My perception is not all there is, I thought. There is reality! Peters’ statement is not global. My perception is all there is for me. In an 8:00 college accounting class I said, “That doesn’t seem right.” The teacher said, “Mr. Benton, you are welcome to your opinion, but it won’t work on a balance sheet or on my tests.”
Psycho-Cybernetics, the original book by Maxwell Maltz and the updated version written by Maltz and Bobbe Sommer has guided much of my thinking about human behavior. A director of the Maxwell Maltz foundation says people in a Covid-19 era need a reason to hope and a reason to believe.
Perspective and perception are attached, but different. Perspective is, “From my perspective….” Perspective of experience, standing, education, insight, as a Democrat or Republican. Perception is like your worldview. It is a brain “servo-mechanism” that determines perspective and guides in determining what will work. Perception gives permission to the brain to pursue, like a laser, the destination you give to your brain. Something like guard rails on a mountain highway. Perception marks danger or dangerous people and the route to success. Most of all, it tells us if we are worthy of success, belonging, loving. The most determining is perception of ourselves: self-image.
This reasoning says that people will believe only what fits with their perception. Much of the difference between Republicans and Democrats is their perceptions of reality, causes and effects. I listened to a political spokesperson and wondered how she could believe what she was saying. It contradicted the facts, as I know them, and projected a radically destructive outcome. The spokesperson wasn’t saying what she had learned or believed, she was telling what determines her life. Perception is what we KNOW!
I talk about perception in my book, You Can Handle It! (© 1988 Spring Daisy Publications).
“Your behavior—good, crazy, bad, sane, productive, self-destructive—comes from you inner being. This core mechanism gives you handles that you cling to in crisis and you depend upon to guide you in making decisions. These handles provide the coping mechanism that function or falter under pressure.”
“We always act in our own best interest—at least from our present point of view.”
“Eighty percent of your perception is visual. You do not think in many abstractions when you know what will meet a need. You have a real picture. You can see it.”
My thinking gripped the concept of Reticular Activating System and has not been the same.
Definition of RAS: “a diffuse network of nerve pathways in the brainstem connecting the spinal cord, cerebrum, and cerebellum, and mediating the overall level of consciousness.” This is an interesting piece of the brain and brain function. Put it in your computer search engine and see. It is what makes perception so important to how we act and respond to stressful events and feelings.
Again from You Can Handle It!
“It (RAS) is a filter that sorts out what we perceive as useful to us. If we have given that filter data to believe there is no solution for a specific problem or situation, the Reticular Activating System will screen out all solutions—we will not even see them.”
“Perception is all there is! An American proverb: Perception is so strong that if you do not believe there is a solution, you would not recognize it even if Fed-Ex delivered it to your front door.”
“You alone give meaning to events. The seriousness of any event is really in how you perceive things which is why Freud and Menninger taught that feelings are more important than facts.”
Still with me? Give me a couple of minutes to list sources from which we build our perceptions:
How Perceptions are Acquired.
- Biological needs (Survive, reproduce and function.)
- We need to belong. When we no longer believe that we belong, we question if we want to survive.
- Modicum measure of power. The less power we have—the power to get, provide, protect or determine–the more we stress. (Stress comes from inside us. We stress (verb) in reaction to external stimuli. Stress is not like pollen.
- Our wants. Some are legitimate, some are selfish. If our wants are threatened, we stress.
- Comfort zone.
- Influences: Social and culture context, heredity, current physical condition, mental health, psychological constitution, emotional wiring, personal values, attitudes, experiences, aspirations, education, spiritual maturity and view of God. Role behavior, personal values, reflex actions, brain wiring, spiritual beliefs, current mental health.
- Self-image. I have a five-foot two friend who weighs less than 100 pounds. She sees herself as fat. No one can change her perception—the mirror she looks into proves it to her. Our actions, feelings, behaviors and skill-building are consistent with our self-image, self-concept, and feelings of self-worth.
- Parental proverbs. These are interesting to trace: “Never loan money to, or do business with family.” “Good fences make good neighbors.” “We do not discuss family issues outside the house.”
In spite of the “diagnosis,” perceptions are not always wrong or negative. Biographer, Richard Norton Smith, says “Herbert Hoover became a victim of his own certainties.” Certainties are another way to say perception. An unexamined certainty limits us.
Change your perception and you change your life.
Changing Incorrect or Inadequate Perceptions.
“…maturity does not come by age or accumulated experiences. It comes through basic responses to grace.” E. Stanley Jones
The discovery that one or more of our perceptions—our automatic response—is a grace-presented opportunity. That is a life journey bend. God won’t change your perceptions, but He will be or will send catalysts to question your certainties and offer alternatives. Agents include:
- Scripture can open the mind. A rhema word has the power to break through to teach something new. Beware—we interpret Scripture through the faulty lens we are seeking to refocus.
- Interaction with a broad range of ideas and people’s experiences. It is helpful to have a diet of information from those with whom we disagree. Why do they say what they do?
- New Information. All new discoveries are based on new information or on rearranged information. Discoveries follow seeking, asking, knocking.”
- Healing prayer.
- Direct revelation. Usually Holy Spirit works in combination with the above. Sometimes, He works apart from other stimuli. The soul receives a download of insight or mental adjustment. It is a gift of grace.
Discovery is not enough, we must make a choice and then act on it. Remember that we think in pictures not equations. The decision is to change the pictures we carry in that brain file labeled, “My life—the way I want it, the way I can get it.” What picture(s) come to mind when Jesus says to you, “I came that you might have abundant life.” How is abundant defined? Are you qualified to receive abundance? What does Jesus’ promise look like to you as you plan for life beyond the shut down? How is that different than pre-Covid-19?
We keep hearing that this shut down is a reset. Maybe the decision is first. We decide to hit the reset button and then ask how to discover what limiting perceptions need to be changed and what creating perceptions need updating and embracing.
Nothing fights back like an old way of seeing things. Again, we create perceptions to be mental infrastructure usually without much thought. They become protection, pathways and safety producing coping skills. To change any or all of that threatens our being. We are talking about changing the way we see ourselves and the world.
“Once you’ve used your left brain to challenge your false beliefs, bring your right brain into play to create new ones. Don’t forget that the subconscious mind needs vividly realized images to agree and comply with—‘new memories.’” Maxwell Maltz & Bobbe Sommer
Upgrade your mental picture album.
A MOTIVATING DIET OF PURPOSE
Around 2010, Dan Buettner visited and then designated seven Blue Zones. Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan and Ikaria, Greece where he found secrets of the longest lived people. The common denominator is living with a purpose. Purpose! The Psycho-Cybernetics people call this “A sense of direction—an objective to pursue.”
You can read everything in this chapter to this point and say, “Yada, Yada, Yada,” or “Blah, Blah, Blah.” When you have a purpose, mission, dream or revealed direction, you begin to ask what trip-trigger perceptions will keep you side-tracked or disqualified. You will formulate mission statements and strategies. When that purpose grips you, you shed the inadequate or unsatisfying certainties or at least you will ask how to lose the insidious, invisible limitations.
Buettner met a nutritionist in Nicoya, Costa Rica who told him,
“We notice that the most highly functioning people over 90 in Nicoya have a few common traits. One of them is that they feel a strong sense of service to others or care for their family. We see that as soon as they lose this, the switch goes off. They die very quickly if they don’t feel needed.”
“…it’s the human imperative to feel needed that keeps the river of life running…”
(The Blue Zones, pages 190-191).
HUNGER FOR THE DYNAMIC GOD
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland (Isaiah 43:19).
What is your reaction and response to those words? Does “new” scare you? To your way of thinking and feeling, how logical is “getting back to normal?” Was the old normal acceptable economically? How about spiritually? Biblically? Morally? How did the old normal square with your perception of God’s best plan? Who can be trusted with your picture of a new normal?
“I am doing a new thing. I’m about to do something new. I have already begun. Do you see it?”
God is dynamic, not static. That is one of Isaiah’s messages. Making a way is God’s brand. Our assignment is to perceive what He is doing and to join Him. In normal times, we could respond with “I see what you are saying.” These days a gut-feeling may be perception. Clarity may come when a soul nudge says there is a better, more effective, more efficient way. Keeping ones soul full is imperative. Sustenance is found in a couple of phrases.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength,” (Jeremiah 8:10).
In the flock of our lawn birds, there is one that demands our attention. He is larger than a hummingbird, and about half to two-thirds the size of a sparrow. As small as he is, he has the largest voice of all. His call and melodies fill the neighborhood. That bird exudes joy and an invitation to join him.
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34).
“Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”
©2020 D. Dean Benton