When You Don’t Have the Right Not to Care

Shares the story of Sam, who awakened to the love around him and reciprocated by caring for his body.
Shares the story of Sam, who awakened to the love around him and reciprocated by caring for his body.

He didn’t come alone. His wife came too, sitting at the coffee table with tight shoulders, looking a little folded in on herself, slowly sipping the tea I served them. It was difficult to know what he was thinking because he was wearing a blank expression. Most people coming for the first time are usually anxious, distrustful, challenging… or hopeful. Our two cats and our dog work as “animal therapists” with some. Our first timers usually calm down when one of them sits on their lap, and, with a friendly nudge, encourages their hands to pet them. Normally, their energy shifts as we talk; they look relaxed and more like themselves. He remained vacant.

Bella kissing a visitorBella cozying up with a visitor

“Look Sam, I don’t just talk to people,” Jerzy said. “I’m a coach. I think that what he needs is a therapist, not me. I can help someone who wants to make changes if they have problems with their body like pains, losing weight or if they want to get stronger or faster. Even for that they need to be ready. It’s not easy to make changes in your lifestyle, and the older you are the more difficult it is. Your whole thought paradigm shifts. And then it ripples through your whole life.”

“Can you make an exception?” Sam asked. “I feel pretty sure you can help him. Look at me, I wasn’t ready for it either. My wife really should take the credit, she was the one to change first, and I liked what happened with her.”

“Ok. You’re right.” Jerzy said, after a long pause of deep thinking. “Sometimes we need help from the outside, like when we’re sick and someone has to take over because we’re not capable of thinking straight.”

“Great! I’ll gladly pay for the session. He’s coming in a few weeks with his wife to visit.”

And now here they were. Reclining comfortably on our blue couches, listening to Jerzy explaining the program without interruption.

Finally, Jerzy said, “So, what do you think Andrew? Do you think that this program is a good fit for you? Something you’ll be able to follow?”

“But I’m happy.” He said it with a crooked smile on his face.

“Well we can see about that. I’m like a scientist, only facts tell me what’s real. How about we start with you stepping on the scale right in the corner, to see how happy your body is. Then let’s measure your body fat and muscle mass.”

The facts were speaking against what Andrew had said: he was around 60 pounds’ overweight, with 40% body fat.

“I told you that things were getting out of hand,” Mary, his wife, said. “You are always tired and you watch football until late, drinking beer and eating chips.”

“Well, not everyone can be thin. I’m big-boned.” He was trying to persuade himself. “It is just a little pleasure that I have. What’s wrong with watching TV?” His voice rose a little.

“It just too much pleasure and too often,” Mary sadly commented. “You’ve became more and more sedentary and you never eat vegetables. Only meat and potatoes. Do you realize that you drink almost every day?”

“Andrew, how old are you?” Jerzy interrupted the couple’s squabbling.

“I’m 63.”

“Ok. Now how do you see yourself in, let’s say, five years or ten years? Or twenty?”

“The way he’s going he’ll end up like his father, getting a heart attack,” Mary added.

“So there’s a family history of heart attack?”

“Yes, my father, my grandfather and my two uncles all died of heart attacks.” Despite the honesty of his statement, Andrew still seemed not to care.

“You see, heart attack is a condition. I strongly feel that the same goes with strokes, or diabetes. Problems with lifestyle accelerate as we age. We become less active and need less food because we’re no longer growing. Then as we age, we can only grow bad things inside the body, just to state it simply.” Said Jerzy.

There was a minute of silence, all of them sitting at the table lost in their own thoughts.

Jerzy broke the silence. Looking at Andrew’s wife he asked, “Imagine Andrew dies, what is it that you’re you afraid of?”

Tears welled in her eyes.

“I don’t want Andrew to die like his father. He’s still young and life has a lot to offer. We don’t talk about what will happen when we retire. No plans. I feel that this kind of life we have is not what I imagined when we were working hard, raising our children. Now we have grandchildren but I worry he won’t even be there to watch them grow up!”

Andrew didn’t change his expression, just continued to gaze at the table. Jerzy then broke in. “Do you have good relationships with your two sons and your daughter? What do you think it will be like for them when you’re gone? Do they rely on you and expect you to be around for them?”

After a long silence, Andrew quietly said that he hadn’t thought about these things before. “I’ve never been afraid of dying. I always thought that life would just go on….”

It was clear that the appointment was coming to an end, and the couple left with a heavy atmosphere lingering in the room. Jerzy felt frustrated, that it may have been a mistake to see them, that he couldn’t be of much help.

Six months later Sam came for one of his occasional sessions. “Have you heard anything from Andrew?” he asked. Jerzy replied that he hadn’t, and that he wasn’t sure if the appointment had really helped.

“Are you kidding?” said Sam. “He’s a completely different man! He read The Happy Body book on the plane and the moment they landed they went straight to Whole Foods and stocked up on healthy foods for your program. He started exercising right away, following the guidelines, and he’s already lost thirty-five pounds!”

Jerzy was stunned. He’d assumed that his words had no impact, that Andrew would be resistant until the end. He wondered if raising the question of his own death had somehow opened Andrew’s imagination to the point where he realized how his own life impacted everyone around him. He had responsibilities to the people who loved him. And he ultimately gracefully embraced these responsibilities. The next thirty years suddenly didn’t look so gruesome for him once he took charge of his life.


Do you see how your presence in others’ lives makes a difference? How could you deepen your relationships so they become more open and more real?

Leave your response below in the comments.

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    • Ian,
      Thank you for your comment. Definitely people and their stories are real encouragement to others. We think so, and we believe that we need each other in order to change for better. Also, why not you to be that person? Consciously or not, we write our own stories, so why not a story that can be an inspiration for others? Yes?

  • I am a huge fan of Jerzy and Aniela because they are there as a beacon demonstrating that a high level of fitness is achievable and is a rewarding lifestyle, and they motivate me to be a better person.
    I have been committed to a fit and healthy lifestyle since I was 16, and have always sought to communicate the joy and reward of feeling fit and healthy, especially when coaching children. Some years ago I coached girls soccer (my daughter was on the team) and always sought to make practices fun and to emphasize the joy of play and movement.
    I had one girl on the team who was large and heavy-set and not fit – playing and practicing were a challenge for her. But she came to the practices and did the work, and I always noticed progress she made. She seemed to enjoy playing and we had a good season before she left, and she clearly had come to love soccer.
    A few years ago I ran into her father at a store and he lit up. “You know you changed my daughter’s life when she played soccer for you. She became a fitness enthusiast and has been an athlete ever since.” He showed me a picture of her and I was stunned. She had lost 20 of 30 pounds was a fit and vibrant young woman. She looked strong and happy – just beautiful. I won’t lie, I teared up a little to see her looking so wonderful.
    So our commitment to fitness and health is more than taking care of ourselves. We also serve as examples and inspiration to others. When we lift ourselves we often lift those around us. What better reason is there to excel?

    • Hi Richard,
      What a gift! I am so glad you shared this story with us. We affect each other in a positive as well as negative ways – but we have a choice which energy to pick on, and carry it over. The role of a coach, mentor…even parenting is a noble but not easy task. The efforts are put out there, but we might see the effect not immediately, but in the future. Or maybe never directly as you did. What’s important is your feeling of contentment of doing the right thing.

  • Richard, “When we lift ourselves we often lift those around us. What better reason is there to excel?” What a great statement!

    I agree with you, and couldn’t be happier to be part of The Happy Body family for this very reason. Almost every day I have an opportunity to share the existence of this program with somebody new, and I think its because our inner joy and wellness can be seen/felt from outside, and it attracts others to ask us: what are you doing? How can I get some of that for myself?

    I believe that the seeds we plant in others, as we share our truths, offer a smile, a have gratitude gesture, can grow unimaginable roots. And the mirror we offer others by loving ourselves, renewing the practices that keep us healthy, being the change we want to see in the world, and keeping this mirror clean and shining, has the potential to transform.

    How to deepen our relationships so they can be more open and real? For me the answer is to be vulnerable, honest, fearless, giving. Vulnerable to show my true self whether I’m having a great or tough day; honest in my expression and feedback; fearless to say what needs to be said. And maybe most importantly: giving. For me, compassionate giving to all, even in the simple way of a smile and a hug, can go a long, long way.

    • Dayana,
      Love your enthusiasm! I hope you will encourage others to share your vulnerability, honesty, fearlessness and active participation. Cheers to future talks that will help us grow as community!

      • Thank you, Aniela! I am very grateful for this space where we can communicate, share, and support each other during this process of infinite improvement, that is hard and evasive sometimes…

        Can’t wait to meet you in person! Thanks for creating The Happy Body 🙂

  • Hello all! These stories are great encouragement. For me, I am now in my 40’s, and am starting to think more and more about how to set up my long-term health as I get older. Especially now that I have 2 young kids!

    Health has always been important for me, however it’s always vied for attention amongst work, family, etc. So I do some things well, but overall my health needs to improve.

    May I ask, I’m working through the book now, and hope by next week to be doing the exercises, eating, and meditation. I want to set up the 6am hour as my health time. Can I ask tips, tricks, etc to get going with it, and really cement it as a habit of life?


    • Hi Ken,
      Welcome to The Happy Body!
      The best advice: don’t be in a hurry, this practice is going to be for life. Follow the book with week one, two… until twelve. Consider buying our newest book “THB Self Mastery Workbook,” that is complementary to the master book to learn about your personal habits and believes. Attitude is a very important element in pursuing the program so enjoy the movement, eat foods and amount align with what you need with pleasure, and do daily relaxation technique to relief stress. Stay in touch!

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