It’s dark and quiet. The boys are asleep and it’s mid-September so 5:45 am seems like the middle of the night. I just wrote 3 pages, stream of consciousness, sipping coffee, curled on the couch with a nightlight for guidance.
I need this time before my day starts. It’s integral to my well-being. And yet, how do we study this? How do we capture this messy moment? Is it in the literature? I went to PubMed in search of morning pages and found nothing.
This is where I am finding struggle and tension in teaching health. The health behaviors that reduce the risk of chronic disease, which we invest millions of research dollars in, are well-defined and well-known. My students know that they are supposed to eat fruits and vegetables and not smoke and not drink a ton and move their bodies. This knowledge alone doesn’t change behavior.
What the literature fails to capture, at least what I can find, are all the facets of being human and what contributes to well-being. Maybe this is why the wellness industry is flourishing. You have researchers sequestered at universities, publishing mostly unintelligible papers, and studying what they want to study or what will provide the most funding. I know many researchers who set out to make the world a better place and contribute to knowledge. But what I am saying here is that knowledge doesn’t do much in the realm of behavior change. You have to get your hands dirty. You have to roll up your sleeves and work with the behavior.
The wellness industry knows this, if not on purpose then by profit. They sell interventions. They sell if you do this then you will be healthy. They basically sell action. And with no concrete, easy-to-follow steps, armed with only knowledge and admonishment from the scientific community, humans do what humans do - look for the easy way to get their desired outcome. It doesn’t have to be evidence-based. The evidence is behind a paywall, hard to read, and overwhelming and contradictory. And I think we all intuitively know that we can’t measure everything.