No two snowflakes are ever the same nor do they travel the same journey…
When it comes to people, we are all snowflakes. Unique, one of a kind and never duplicated, all the way down to our fingerprints. We all know this on some instinctual level. Then why are we always falling into the trap of thinking that we should all respond the same way to whatever life gives us? Although we can often find trends in certain populations how people respond and adapt to certain experiences, the individuality we each operate with down to a cellular level means it is foolish to ever presume we know for certain how anything will turn out. What works for one may work for another but don’t ever be surprised if it doesn’t. Why? Let’s take a deeper look…
The Big Picture
When we look at the big picture, it is clear that we share quite a bit with the rest of the beings on this planet. Each of us is an animal, a mammal, a primate, and a human. Therefore we actually have much in common with each other and the animal kingdom in general. We share biology, habits and instincts with many animals and mammals, most primates and virtually every other human. In the grand scheme of things, we are much more alike than different with nearly every other creature on this planet. We all seek food, shelter, reproduction and survival and our bodies and brains are always adapting to our environment to make sure we accomplish the tasks of life. All animals adapt to deal with survival differently, although the differences become less extreme the more we move into primates, then humans, into ethnic and regional backgrounds, extending all the way to familial background. The end result is although we share quite a bit with lions, tigers, bears, whales, birds, beavers and gorillas, we share much more with our neighbors and even more with our brothers and sisters.
Here is the catch: even though we share this grand scheme biology with other creatures and are nearly identical to other humans, we are as diverse, different and unique as snowflakes. In fact, snowflakes have nothing on us.
We are all unique, just like snowflakes. There has been and never will be another human like you. You, like everyone there has ever been, are a snowflake. Just like your fingerprints, one of a kind, for all time. No person has ever been made with your genetics that has lived your experiences. Even if you are a identical twin, everything from your embryonic nutrient disbursement to your sleep yesterday has made you unique. Every second of every day we live through events, experiences and stimuli that make us even more and more unique from others around us.
Think of the universe. What was once one common entity exploded in every direction and every second of every day got further apart and developed slightly differently. Our sun is similar to every other star but is as unique as a snowflake itself. It has its own solar system, ever changing and dynamic. We are all stars, in sense, similar to all the other human stars but unique in so many ways. Every day you become more and more different than the stars around you.
What does this mean? It means that we all need to acknowledge and embrace how different we are from every one else. In each and every aspect of life, we are unique. Particularly when it comes to health, each of us has our own history and individuality. Keep this in mind when you think about managing your wellness. What works for one person may or may not work for you. Just because your friend started drinking green smoothies and feels better it doesn’t mean that is the answer to your fatigue. Just because you have a family member who started running and lost 15 pounds doesn’t mean it’s the answer for your 15 pounds. What is a prescription for health for one person may be a worthless endeavor for someone else or a recipe for disaster for another.
The more specific the intervention, the more cautious you should proceed. Your colleague started taking a certain supplement and feels great. Your brother started doing low carb and is dropping weight like bricks. You saw an article online about high intensity interval training and have never known such an amazing transformation is possible. None of this is a guarantee for you. Could one of these work? Sure. Just don’t presume it will work. Do some research, think about how similar your situation is to the people you are observing and proceed cautiously. Many people have ended up frustrated by operating under the assumption that what works for one or some works for all.
Some specific interventions work for some people some of the time.
Now, the more general the recommendation, the more confident you can be that it will have some benefit to you. Eat more whole, fresh foods. Move your body around more naturally. Rest and recover more. Connect more with the earth and each other. Manage stress better and enjoy life more. These are all categorical interventions that can be tailored to each individual but will be useful for nearly everyone. You will undoubtedly have a hard time finding someone who will not become healthier from finding their niche in these broad categories. There isn’t the same structure in general recommendations but this allows so much flexibility that everyone will get to make the most of their time and effort and will likely end up with the biggest return on their investment.
Most general interventions work for most people most of the time.
The Plot Thickens
Ok, so we are all unique snowflakes that need to keep in mind our bio individuality when making health and wellness decisions. We are different from our neighbors, friends, family and the people we see on television. That is easy to wrap our brains around. In fact, most everyone inherently knows this and has experienced this first hand. Different things will work for different people.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Not only are you different among all humans, you are different today than you were yesterday. The “one of a kind” you changes every single day. You are not the same person you were yesterday. You’ll be different tomorrow. You are light years away from the person you were 10 years ago and who you will be 10 years from now. You change every day. Like I said before, snowflakes have nothing on us.
Ok, so what does this mean?
This means that we always have to keep in mind that we are likely to respond differently to things we do every day. Should we respond in the same way each time we do something or encounter something? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on many factors. Is it likely a diet that worked in the past will have different results now? It is very likely. Will an exercise program that worked wonders for you a couple years ago work again today? It might but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. Can the same stressor you breezed through last month devastate your health this time around? Absolutely. Each and every experience and stimulus is a unique event. We change every day, every minute, and therefore so does our response and adaptation to everything we encounter. In our world of ever changing snowflakes, there are no guarantees. We must always recognize and appreciate how dynamic we all are.
Now, I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. My goal is to help people understand why things don’t always work they way we expect. Literally every day I hear or read about someone commenting on how something “should” work or “they just don’t understand why (fill in the blank) didn’t work the way it did last time.” I want people to remember they’re ever changing biological systems which makes it very hard to predict anything (much less everything) and inherently means expectations won’t always come true. There is so much we don’t know about the human body and mind and we all change a little bit every day in ways we don’t yet understand and can’t yet measure. We are so dynamic it is beyond comprehension. Thinking that we are static creatures is a foolish practice. Admitting that we are unbelievably dynamic beings is much more sensible and practical. Embracing this is actually quite liberating. This means the world is more open than ever before. Strategies that didn’t work in the past may be just what you need now. You may be able to use a number of interventions simultaneously and experiment in ways you never thought possible. The world is your oyster. Just be aware that you are way more complex than you ever thought was possible. You are an ever changing snowflake. Take the time and opportunity to appreciate how amazing that is and let it inspire you to find new (or old) ways to improve your health and wellness. Don’t be discouraged by something not working the way it “should have”, take the opportunity to learn more about yourself and try something else. The more we can take a step back when looking at our health the better off we will be. Every one wants the answer, the intervention or plan that will be the solution they have been searching for. The answer is you. You the fingerprint, you the star, you the snowflake. Love the fact that you are unique and let it guide you on your journey through health, wellness and life.
The Bare 5 Bottom Line on Snowflakes:
1. Although we are virtually identical to other humans, we are each as different as a snowflake or fingerprint. There has never been or will never be a person like you.
2. Every person responds differently to experiences and stimuli. No two people react the exact same nor should we expect them to.
3. You are constantly changing every day. Even your adaptations and response to things changes on a daily basis.
4. The more specific the intervention, the less likely it is to work for the majority of people. The more general, the more it is likely beneficial to most people.
5. Each day is different and provides you with the chance to experience something you’ve never encountered before. Your uniqueness is what will guide you to finding your own version of health. Embrace it and make the most of it.
Thanks for reading, have a great one of a kind day!