I remember hearing on the news a couple of weeks ago about an “important new finding” in a study. Of course my immediate reaction went something like this, “Oh no, not another stupid study!”
I don’t know about you but it seems to me as if a large segment of our population must do nothing but conduct studies and report them to the news media! Better yet they all seem to contradict one another. Which doesn’t just result in mass confusion but, and I believe this is the most important finding of all these studies, they point out the need for even more studies!
Anyway, this particular study was all about how healthy gratitude is for you. So I listened to the story and read a bit about this online as well. After all it’s now November and what do you always associate November with if not Thanksgiving (well that and cooler temps here on the River)?
I don’t think there was anything new or surprising about any of this. I clearly remember being told to say “please and thank you” as a child and to “count my blessings” as well. Was anyone really surprised by any of this? I know I wasn’t the only one who was always told as a kid that I ought to be grateful for my meatloaf because all those starving kids in India or China or wherever would have loved to have something so good!
I probably wasn’t the only kid who would have gladly volunteered to ship it to them if I hadn’t been sure my Dad would have killed me for saying so either.
But here’s my real issue with this kind of advice we seem to be getting in an unending stream these days. It’s fine to tell me what I should be doing or thinking or feeling. It’s also largely useless unless I’m also given some ideas about how I can do it.
Telling people what to do and not giving them solid pointers on how to do it is cheap and useless advice. Are there any overweight people or smokers who don’t know they ought to lose weight and stop smoking? Anywhere in the world do such people exist? Maybe, but I doubt it.
But there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people who are desperate to find out how to do it. That desperation fuels more than a billion dollar diet industry in this country. It also fuels all the patches, electronic cigarettes and other ‘stop smoking’ gizmos also.
To give people what and not how is to nag them instead of giving them helpful advice. It seems like today we are constantly being nagged about everything by a horde of unknown “study makers” who live in a different world that I do at any rate. Maybe Study Land exists right next to the Twilight Zone?
I’m very familiar with this because it’s a professional hazard in my line of work. Yelling at people about doing or not doing things that they already know they should or shouldn’t be doing might make the speaker feel good. It also might make some listeners with a neurotic need to feel guilty happy as well. Because then they can feel bad instead of actually doing something.
However, what that doesn’t do is help anyone change their lives at all. It’s a lazy way to tell yourself that you’ve “done all you can.”
I know that I, for one, could do with a whole lot less pious nagging about everything I put into my body or mind and most of what comes out of it as well. So until you can move beyond “educating” or “informing” us about things we already know into helping us figure out how to do it you would being doing a real public service by just shutting up!
Maybe someone could do a study on that one. I propose the following study be made, and if someone will fund me a hundred thousand bucks I’ll do it myself. Study Topic: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being Not At All and 10 being Extremely Healthy please answer the following question: “How healthy would it be for you to go for at least a month without hearing any results of any studies and/or polls anywhere in the news or on the internet?”
My answer would be somewhere north of 50. How about you?
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.