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“The Magic Pill”

Let me just state for the record, can I give a shout out to all the cool mums out there - cool mums like mine - who give us some pearls of wisdom when we need them, like the title of this post... So where’s this post headed? Just as the title evokes, “the magic pill” is the universal remedy to everything. Health, longevity, optimal ageing, supreme intelligence, a sense of paramount importance after some task you perform. You name it, the magic pill delivers it, with interest.

In all seriousness though we’ve often believed that there’s a shortcut button and why shouldn’t we? We’ve been hardwired to adopt behaviours that reward us with the least amount of effort possible to obtain the most (insert “thing” of value here) we humanly can. It’s essentially a weighing-up or human cost-benefit analysis.[1] In the past, the idea of doing the most efficient and energy-sparing thing possible was a phenomenally effective system and a huge part of what’s kept us alive. In today’s age though, the system has some drawbacks, our ability to make healthy choices being one of them.

When it comes to health, there is no panacea. Good health takes time, good health requires effort and good health requires energy. Time, effort, energy. Beyond pot luck - like winning Tattslotto - nothing incredible happens overnight.

Take the person who gets enthusiastic about joining the gym come the start of a new year. They do what’s normal for most of us, they enjoy the festive season, eat plenty of great tasting food, drink more beer and then run on a certain surge of willpower over the following week so as to reinvent themselves come the first of January. “I'm going to eat perfectly, exercise every day, take a good month off the booze and spend more time with the things I truly value and care about, no excuses!”

What typically happens? They last a few weeks, albeit noticing some incredibly positive changes in themselves and how they feel. Their appearance gets several compliments from those who see them at work or from family and friends on the increased time spent with them. They sleep better than they can ever remember. They feels calmer, more confident and more certain about their abilities in every waking endeavour. ‘Ha’, they think, the magic pill is working! ‘This is great.’ And then it stops... The novelty wears off, nostalgic routines set in and old habits die hard.

It gets to February and they wonder what happened in that last week or so to offset this radical new year. The magic pill wasn’t absorbed properly, surely that’s it. They ask themselves:

“Why didn’t this momentum keep rolling?”

“Why didn’t my willpower persist?”

“Why did life get in the way?”

“Why does this keep happening to me?”

“Why can’t I stick to anything?”

All these questions and just one simple answer: There’s only time, there’s only effort and there’s only energy and that’s the only magic pill we’ll ever need. We have the capacity to do this, invest more time, effort and energy in yourself.


[1] Janota A, Rastocny K, Zahradnik J. Human cost as a factor used in the cost-benefit analysis. Transport Problems. 2008;3:45-52.

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