Most of the time, people become my clients because they are unhappy with the prescriptions they get from their doctors, whether conventional or naturopathic. They are overwhelmed by the pharmaceuticals, supplements, and diet changes that their provider insists they must swallow and follow for what seems like an infinite amount of time -- a year, the foreseeable future, or in some cases, forever. And that saps any possibility of joy from their potential healing. The client loses their mojo. They see Mt. Everest before them. Huge. Looming. Insurmountable.
Why in the world would they want to invest the time, money, and energy in a process that might or might not heal them, but will, in their eyes, cause them to suffer, whether physically or emotionally? To me, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
I do not believe in telling my clients they have to “suffer through it,” “stick it out,” "feel crappy," “endure it,” or anything of that nature. Yuck.
One of the fundamental tenets of the work I do is to show people how to capture the joy in healing. Healing – no matter how it comes about -- should be FUN. If you’re going to spend the time, money, and energy to heal, it needs to feel good, whether it involves whole foods, herbs, or diet and lifestyle changes.
This is not some idealistic Pollyanna scam on my part. Like all of the work that I do, this premise is based on science. Just look at the research surrounding laughter as medicine. When patients feel joy, they feel better. It doesn’t matter if they’re depressed, have cancer, walk with pain, or are on dialysis. Their symptoms improve.
Therefore, incorporating joy and fun into a client’s journey towards optimal wellness is critical. They are integral components of earth-based medicine, especially where food is concerned.
We all understand the joy and comfort that we get from eating certain foods and drinking certain beverages. Unfortunately many of these foods and beverages take away from our health, particularly when we are dealing with some sort of health crisis.
For instance, I had a client, Liz*, who came to me wanting to lose weight and unable to kick a 30 year Diet Coke habit. She drank anywhere from 5-10 cans a day. She knew the Diet Coke was unhealthy and contributed to her weight gain, but she enjoyed drinking it during her stressful day as a high-tech executive. I asked her what she specifically liked about the soda, and she said, “The bubbles refresh me.” I suggested that she drink mineral water instead. Violà – the Diet Coke habit disappeared in one week, and she’s been on a healing journey ever since. All we had to do was tap into her joy.
Patricia*, who was already an amazing cook, has started listening to music while making dinner. She says the food tastes better, she is eating more slowly, and her digestion has improved.
Children especially need to have fun when they’re healing. Kate*, a beautiful 11 year old, came to me with her mom recently after dealing with debilitating joint pain for over a year. She has been to countless doctors, all of whose different diagnoses and prescriptions, despite their best intentions and steep costs, have caused Kate to suffer even more. Some recent bloodwork suggests that Kate needs to make some major changes to her diet, including not eating her Halloween candy. Together with her mom, we figured out what would bring her joy instead of the sugar, and she left my office empowered and smiling, knowing she would get some of her favorite Pangea Organics lip balm at the end of her candy-free week. There might even be a trip to Disneyland in the spring.
When you give people options, when you take the time to find out what brings them joy and what’s “fun” to them, you also tap into their innermost source of deep healing. Yes, healing can mean making major life changes, but these changes should be rooted in joy, not suffering.
I want my clients to have fun while they’re healing. I want them to savor the physical and emotional joy that comes from their symptoms disappearing and from living life to the fullest. My clients are redefining wellness for themselves and having a darn good time in the process. And that’s what I call medicine.
*Names have been changed to protect clients’ privacy.