Thursday, March 14, 2019

Just Right

Homeostasis is the state of steady internal conditions maintained by living things. This dynamic state of equilibrium is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as body temperature and fluid balance, being kept within certain pre-set limits.   (Wikipedia)

Yesterday I sat in the park to read a book. I chose a bench in full sunlight and after two minutes, thought “Too hot!” So I moved to the shade. “Too cold!!” I was searching for “Just right!” but never found it. Direct sun with the ever-thinning ozone layer is simply too intense, but the March air in San Francisco still carries a chill. 

It strikes me how much time we spend each day searching for “just right.” Not too hungry, not too full. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too sleepy, not too buzzed. Our day revolves around the body’s cycles and its quest for equilibrium. And so we eat periodically, snack occasionally, try to be a 21stcentury 7 glasses of water person, dutifully exercise, rest and so on in search of an elusive homeostatic equilibrium that can only last so long before tipping one way or the other. 

What’s impressive is how clearly we know when something is too much, too little or just right. Not that we always act on it. We may eat to excess or diet to excess because the brain can over-ride the body, but our homeostatic intelligence is functioning nonetheless.

And I believe that intuitive, often unspoken wisdom exists in other areas as well. We know we should like this person, but we don’t. Or we shouldn’t and we do. We get talked into doing this job or joining this church or buying this product often against our sensed feeling that something is rotten in this state of Denmark. If only we could trust our innate sense of wisdom, whether or not we find the words to illuminate and clarify the felt intuition. Time and again we don’t and later wish that we had.

If we build our life choices—small ones like when to eat and how much and when to get up and move and when to lie down for a bit and big ones like choosing life careers or partners—around our awareness of homeostatic bliss and what’s needed for the “optimal functioning of our organism,” why, I believe we would be one inch closer to happiness.

More to say, but I need a snack!

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