In the modern world we are challenged not to take ourselves or our situations too personally or seriously so we can be available to the opportunities that each moment presents.
We are called to the challenge to be flexible and adaptable in a world filled with uncertainty. To do this we must let go of the safety blanket of routine, structure and habit that are reinforced by our fears, concerns and uncertainties. Most of the time they don’t really serve us or end up stifling our ability to thrive and adapt.
In meeting lifes challenges we will stumble, we will fall, but in short order we will also pick ourselves up and find a deepened connection to our own truth and value systems that are our internal governing barometers. The more we fall the more we get really clear on what does and does not serve us. This process builds strength and confidence in ourselves and our ability to adapt. Pretty soon, through our choices, we learn to access the best of what life has to offer, and leave what no longer serves us alone…
Creating value systems for navigating life’s diverse terrain has always been important. At the same time we need to learn how to step outside of our perceived value systems once in a while to help create new experiences. When we “challenge our beliefs” and get “fun-comfortable” sometimes, we can open up to the possibility of finding our most treasured experiences which stretch us, grow us, and sometimes heal us at the deepest levels.
I like to think that all life is conspiring to see us achieve great things. It is up to us to learn when to get out of our own way and allow ourselves to get a little lost. Most of the time when we do, things work out better than if we try to control it all with too many rules and restrictions. This is why learning to utilize the powers of the flexitarian and opportunivore are in our best interest if we are to create lasting health, happiness and balance on all levels.
Of course, all life is about balance, and it is up to our internal barometer to help guide us not to stretch to much or too fast if we are to be successful in challenging our personal status quo’s.
First off, the Flexitarian is often talked about as a dietary approach. In this sense of the word it is considered a diet of not dieting or limiting too many food choices. It can be done well or done poorly. If you go with the general rule of 80% awesome upgrade and 20% not so awesome, you are bound to succeed at creating great lasting health and have lots of fun doing it. This ideology is a call to stop limiting yourself and start living your life to its fullest.
At 80% awesome upgrade we are adhering to a generally healthy lifestyle and looking to find the best choices in the moment, yet not beating ourself up if 20% of our food, our choices, and the circumstances we find ourself in fall outside of our healthy ideals.
The Flexitarian stays subtle to the flow and avoids creating too much rigidity or seriousness to their choices. They live in alignment with the basic rhythms of life, yet mix it up by going against the grain at times. They know that optimal health is created by letting go of fundamentalism, fanaticism or idealism.
Far too often people try to overachieve good health, and end up creating more negative affirmations than positive ones. I can’t choose that, I shouldn’t eat this, I’m not as healthy as I want to be, but I will be when “x” happens…. This becomes a disempowering practice rather then an empowering one.
What if we changed the story… I can choose that, I could eat this, I’m good to go and will always make the best choice in the moment. This is an easy attitude switch to make if we change our ideals around what health is.
Real and lasting health starts with feeling good about what we do emotionally and mentally first, then our physical will start to follow this alignment. When we start our health path by limiting our diet and forcing ourselves to exercise, we are likely to stumble and fail more often than succeed.
What if we chose instead to seek the upgrade, but be flexible and not feel guilty if we don’t always take it. Slowly we would start to see and feel the benefits that the upgrade gives us without the pressure, limitations and guilty of failing. In this mood of thinking, it isn’t long before we start to exercise and choose better foods because they make us feel good on all levels.
Every person alive desires one thing in common, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or why you want it. At some level we all are looking for the same thing, and that is to “feel better”…
Feeling better is not about making right choices or choosing right action, it is always about being in the flow, creating positive movement and enjoying each moment to its fullest. If we can learn to laugh at ourselves, make mistakes, and let go of the pressure of achieve something we are not quite yet, then we are winning the inner battle. This inner shift will directly start to reflect in our outer health.
The challenge the flexitarian faces is to be ok with the dark side, taboo or downgraded choices in their lives. Yet, not allowing these to raise above the 20% threshold where they can start to erode at our core values. The Flexitarian starts to get in trouble when they slide to a 60/40 mix. At this place they are letting go of their resolve to seek the upgrade and achieve vibrant health. Pretty soon they start slipping into more and more “shades of grey” and states of health imbalance.
In the modern world, there are many low vibrational food and lifestyle choices available. It is tempting to let false pleasure and easy habits take over. After all they give immediate gratification. These quick pleasure hits are never lasting and often leave us more depleted in the end. If we kept to the 80% awesome upgrade and 20% less than ideal, then it’s all good, we can enjoy each experience to its fullest without inhibition. The upgraded choices we’ve committed to will more than make up for our less than ideal ones. In essence, we can still have our cake and eat it too.
When we allow ourselves to be available for whatever life brings, we create space for opportunity and new experience to come our way. At times we most definitely will have to say “no” to opportunity, and will always be faced with challenges to overcome. Every time we go with an opportunity and it doesn’t work out, we get clearer on what we actually want and closer to understanding how to make the best choices that align with our highest potential.
In essence the intentional opportunivore path is a fast track to upgrading our health, happiness and lifestyle design. We learn to awaken our internal warrior instincts, activating and engaging our moments with their fullest potential.
A good opportunivore doesn’t put restrictions on their choices, they use discernment to find the best choice in the moment. Often the diet and lifestyle will change dramatically through the seasons, tuning into the ideal choices available for their current situation. For example, in winter, we often crave more fats to help feed and protect our bodies during the dark and cold season; sensing this, a good opportunivore will seek out the best quality fats they can find to insure optimal nourishment, rather than attempt to convince themselves that fats are not optimal and restrict themselves. This same opportunivore will likely notice the desire for more fresh greens when they become available in the spring and use these to tone and cleanse their winter build up.
Opportunivores often have a unique collection of foods, herbs and spice in their lives and enjoy a variety of ethnic or fusion meals and beverages. They usually seek to create an experience around meals, rather then just eating food as a form of sustenance. This may mean visiting farmers markets, delis and specialty food shops to find those ideal ingredients to work with. Or it could show up as stretching one’s cooking abilities with new recipes, tools or other resources they seek out. Often opportunivores enjoy exploring unique dining experiences, and experimenting with foods they have never tried.
My personal favourite opportunivore experiences have been traveling to different cultural centres, either internationally or just within any large city I find myself in. I seek out the most unique traditional or fusion foods available, preferably fermented or prepared in an intentional way that requires time, and energy. These types of foods are more likely to be prepared for their health benefits and are often rich in story, cultural significance and or flavour. It can be a hit or miss, most of the time a new food pilgrimage will be something I cherish and want to try again, though in other times, a few bites in something is way wrong and I’m unable to finish my meal.
If we are to choose to follow this lifestyle and dietary path it is important to be strategic, discerning and have well laid out intention, otherwise the opportunivore is likely to get the best of us. Opportunities are everywhere and so are bad opportunivores. It’s all too easy to take too many shortcuts and become a convineince-avore, or fastfood-atarian.
To be an good opportunivore is to seek out new and exciting opportunities, to stretch ourselves, learn new skills, and create the best diet and lifestyle that is seasonally tuned and situationally maximized.
Both the Flexitarian and the opportunivore have a place in a bigger wholistic lifestyle design. In essence we can never control the out come of our experience, we are always given free will to choose our part in co-creating each moment. These choices will dramatically effect the way our life unfolds, as well as our happiness, health and success. Being flexible and brave enough to seize opportunities as they come, will always out maneuver the complainers, the fearful, and the dis-empowered attitudes others may have. Pretty soon we start to see that those around us will be also be taking on the yes I can attitude or they will start to move out of our lives as more flexible opportunities come our way.
“Play it safe, or challenge yourself to find the best in who you are, regardless of if it works out or not….”
© 2017 Yarrow Willard