Wellbeing Biography: Ben Eccles

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Well-being: the state of being happy, healthy, or successful.

Since becoming aware of how important my wellbeing is, I have always found it interesting that we as humans constantly barter our wellness for some other medium of satisfaction. For example, I know that I love Chinese food. Not the traditional dish you would be served in China, but the greasy “Americanized” Chinese food. I love the smell, I love the taste, but the feeling I have the morning after a night of Chinese food is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. After an experience like that, you would think I would never return to the sweet and sour chicken I love so much, but you can bet that a few weeks later, I will be on the phone ordering that same dish. Why? Why would I subject my wellbeing to that torture?

While I admit that not everyone feels the same way about fried rice and egg rolls, we all have our own “Chinese food.” Most of us probably have multiple things that we do even though we know there is really no long-term positive affect to them (and possibly a negative long term affect!). It doesn’t take a nutritionist to tell you that your double fudge brownie adds little to no nutritional value to your diet, or that your daily Diet Coke isn’t really very good for you. We all make choices that are poor for our health, and my theory behind why we do these things is that we don’t value our wellbeing nearly as much as we should.

This became clearer than it has ever been for me during my freshman year of college. I, along with most college-aged people, didn’t value my wellbeing very much at all. I didn’t eat particularly well, my workout schedule started strong but fairly quickly I had eradicated the gym completely from my weekly routine, and I probably averaged around 5 hours of sleep per night. The affects of these choices didn’t hit me immediately. They were gradual, and once in action, they were very hard to counteract. My grades began to suffer, I started napping in class, and the Freshman 15 became a very real thing for me.

This was one of the most confusing times in my life. I was having all of these great experiences as a young college student living on his own for the first time. But at the same time, my mental, physical and emotional state was pretty severely damaged by the poor decisions I was making. I remember very clearly the night all of this truly dawned on me. I was in the McCormick basement studying for a chemistry exam and it was almost 4 o’clock in the morning. This wasn’t an every day thing, but it happened often enough that I just accepted the fact that a good night’s sleep wasn’t an option on a night before a test. Once I finished studying, I packed up my things, and dragged myself to my room to catch 3 hours of sleep before my 9 a.m. chemistry class. As you might have guessed, I bombed the test. It was almost like I hadn’t studied at all. My thoughts were so scrambled by my lack of sleep that I could hardly read the questions on the pages. After this experience, I was always more aware of how my current decisions were going to affect my future self.

The point of this story is not to make anyone (including myself) feel bad about the decisions made. I think it is important to indulge in ones personal pleasures every once in a while because I think that is how we get the most joy out of our lives. But hopefully after reading this article, you can more consistently say no to things that may cause some immediate satisfaction or relief but are detrimental in the long run. Awareness is truly only a small part of the battle, but acting in favor of your wellbeing will ultimately lead you to a better, happier life.

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