Remember when a list was something scrawled on a scrap of paper to help you get better organised?
And if writing that list was all you achieved on some days, well who’d ever know? Only you ever read it!
Since then the list has spread its tentacles and mega-morphed into a means of broadcasting everything you need to know about absolutely anything there’s something to know about. And, indeed, about many things you might be much better off not knowing anything about!
In short, the private list has become the very public listicle*.
But life in listicle land isn’t always easy, despite a plethora of offerings of “one to whatever” on almost every subject under the sun.
This is especially especially true in the health arena. The fact is listicles are like snowflakes – and often have roughly the same shelf life! – with no two being quite alike. That means the various strands of listicle lore sometimes beg to differ (putting it politely!). And while the freedom to hold opposing opinions makes for a healthy democracy it’s not that great to have competing views slugging it out inside your head while you’re trying to figure out the best way to gain and maintain health.
And then there’s the further problem of following through on the ideas populating the listicles you like. Picture yourself as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Except what’s repeating itself is a combination of January 1st and the day soon after when all those well-meaning resolutions almost inevitably bite the dust.
But what if you become a listicle sensi mastering perfect nutrition, meditation, and sleep habits as well as meeting and keeping a partnership boasting all 23 Little Things That Let You Know You’re In The Right Relationship?
Could all that happiness guarantee your health?
Not unless it is accompanied by “meaning” – “an orientation to something bigger than the self” – according to a recent study reported in America’s Atlantic magazine. The findings challenge “the rosy picture” that happiness necessarily equates with healthiness, explained article author Emily Esfahani Smith.
‘From the evidence of this study, it seems that feeling good is not enough. People need meaning to thrive. In the words of Carl Jung, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”‘
“Jung’s wisdom certainly seems to apply to our bodies, if not also to our hearts and our minds,” Smith concludes, referencing the millennia old debate “which has shaped Western civilization” as to what constitutes “the good life”.
Woven into that debate have been the ideas lived and articulated by a master of succinct advice about that good life and how it relates to both physical and mental wellbeing – namely, Jesus. He boiled it down to two salient points: love the divine source of life with all your heart, soul mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. And he demonstrated the health benefit of these two ideas by his extraordinary record of healing – a spiritual legacy still being successfully leaned on by many people today.
So there you have it, an oldie but goodie. The wisdom of the world’s shortest health listicle still endures 2,000 years later.
The article was first published on the Huffington Post UK as Looking for a Listicle to Lean On? Oldies Can Be Goodies?