Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Self-Care is the Opposite of Selfish

I am writing this post one day after my husband’s 75th birthday. As I’ve said to many people, it’s a little hard for us to fathom that David has reached this landmark birthday, given that he was only 21 when we met and 24 when we married on April 9, 1968. How time flies!

Yesterday, I reported on Facebook that David does not eat or want sweets, so there was no birthday cake or any other kind of pastry for him on his big day. Every morning, he prepares a very healthy breakfast for the two of us; it includes a variety of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. So yesterday, I stuck a single little birthday candle in one-half of a strawberry, lit it, and sang “Happy Birthday” to him. He thought that was fun and funny.

A few hours after that, we went to a good, local café that offers senior discounts. The waitress told David that he could have a free birthday sundae after his meal, but he refused it. She laughingly offered it to me instead, but I refused it, too. She seemed more than a bit surprised by that.

After  lunch, as a present to himself, David took the day off from working on jobs for editing clients of ours and worked on his own writing; that’s his 29th book. He also worked out in the basement for a couple of hours, as he does at least nine or ten hours a week. He mainly lifts weights, but he also stretches and uses our Schwinn exercise bike. I am filled with admiration for him and his amazing self-discipline.

It occurred to me yesterday, more strongly than ever before, that taking care of one's own health, as David does so well and consistently, is also the best gift that one can give one's spouse and other loved ones.

Here is my reasoning behind that statement.

Self-indulgence in things that are bad for us, like sweets, alcohol, and smoking, while pleasurable for a few minutes at a time, can actually be very selfish.  That is, those things are harmful not just to us and our own bodies, but also to the health of our closest social units, given that they contribute to long-term illness (such as diabetes or liver disease or lung cancer), often saddling us and others with long-term financial burdens and shortening our lives.

David has remarked more than once that he cares for his body not just for himself, but also for me. Perhaps if more people started thinking the way he does, pondering the fact that self-care is also care of one's loved ones, we would have much better health in our society as a whole.


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