Do small changes really work?


Imagine a sunrise.

The world is dark, bathed in starlight. Maybe there are a few clouds lingering on the horizon, fog creeping in. Soon the sky begins to lighten. The stars start to fade, so gradually you barely notice at first.

Slowly, softly, you see the first shimmers of sunlight peeking over the horizon. The shimmer becomes a shine, bathing all you can see in pale colors that morph into one another quickly and seamlessly–grey, blue, violet, pink, golden.

Suddenly the air is bright, and crisp. The sun has crept high over the horizon, throwing trees and rocks and mountains into sharp contrast.

The world has changed.

You can change too.

The modern medical system has trained us to think of medicine as an intervention. You’re sick, or injured–the doctor will ride in on a white horse and save you.

And that’s great–when you’re acutely sick or injured. Emergency rooms are absolutely the place you want to go if you got in a car accident or have a sudden-onset kidney infection.

But when it comes to long-haul issues, to chronic illnesses, the white-knight method doesn’t work quite as well. A constant stream of intervention becomes an everlasting source of drama.

Drama equals stress.

Stress is not good for living things, especially human beings learning how to deal with chronic illness.

That’s where gradual change comes in. Gradual changes creep into your life like a sunrise, so subtly you often don’t realize it’s happening.

Stress-free. Or at least stress-less.

Most of us know the basics of human health: good nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

Most of us also know that when we start working out regularly, it takes a few weeks to start seeing major changes to our bodies. It takes a few nights to catch up on sleep debt. It takes a little while for our bodies to change.

So why not change your focus? Maybe now you think of your illness as a major crisis1 and are dreaming of a white knight riding to your rescue.

Consider instead adding small, gradual changes to your lifestyle. Getting enough sleep, becoming more serious about exercise, eating more vegetables–all are worthy goals.

Like a sunrise, small benefits can add up over time without you really noticing. Just all of a sudden, the trees are bathed in light, and the world has changed.


1 Assuming that you are not actually having a medical emergency, in which case please go to the emergency room.

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