Personal Change: Why it’s good to be hungry.

 It’s spring – finally – in my part of the world, and like many Canadians I begin to think about beach season and dropping a few pounds. I just want to feel lighter, you know? Like my coaching clients, I am trying to make a change. In this post, I talk about how any topic we explore for change can increase our self-awareness and consciousness at many levels.

Here’s what I have been noticing as I become conscious of my eating habits…I don’t like to be hungry.  First, let me explain what “being hungry” is in my privileged part of the world. It means my stomach growls and I get cranky because it’s been a few hours since I ate. My usual response is to react immediately and without thinking put some food in my mouth. 

 So why would I say it’s good to be hungry? The last time I was hungry, instead of reacting I took a pause and explored more about being hungry. I experienced hunger for awhile, instead of alleviating it. I used my Integral Scan life practice to notice more about me being hungry.

Here is a reminder of the Integral Framework that I am using (adapted from Wilber et al., Integral Life Practice, 2008)





Individual Upper Left (UL) 

Awareness of my internal thoughts, feelings and values


Upper Right (UR) 

My physical body and demonstrated actions

Collective Lower Left (LL) 

Other people I can take into account



Lower Right (LR) 

The larger systems which are impacted






  • From the collective quadrants (LL and LR) perspective: Being hungry puts me in closer touch with others who are actually, really in need of food. When I allow myself to be hungry, I begin to feel an emotional and spiritual empathy for the millions of people who are experiencing hunger every day. I get just a hint of what it must be like to suffer in this particular way. Not even close, I realize, but it’s something. I can allow the “hunger signal” to be like a gentle tap on my shoulder, reminding me to look around and be conscious of my connection to others. I can send loving-kindness and prayers to others from a more genuine place. I can donate to a food bank or a charity that feeds people. I can find within myself a way to give compassionately to a person living on the street, instead of looking away. In an even broader sense, I can begin to see how our society rewards those who move to action, who work toward alleviating discomfort. I am reminded of the way eager and ambitious recruits are sometimes hired because of their hunger to succeed.


  •  From the individual quadrants (UL, UR) perspective: My hunger discomfort can alert me to my general distaste for discomfort. I must admit, while I don’t much care if I live in the lap of luxury, I do want to be comfortable. Dry, rested, well-fed, clean and safe. You might say that’s natural – it’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But, wait. What else does my need for being satiated mean? How is it that I value “being full” more than “being empty”? Like many people, my daily calendar is crammed and I am moving at a productive pace. Perhaps being hungry can help me appreciate less fullness in other areas. At a physical level, I can examine how I avoid physical discomfort in other ways, like avoiding tough exercise. But other examples of physical discomfort accompany emotional discomfort. I get embarrassed and afraid to be totally honest with someone. It’s hard to look in the mirror and be honest with myself. There are lots of things that make me uncomfortable that I try to avoid: Owning up to my feelings with people who don’t care. Speaking to others about their role in conflict. Struggling to do something new and letting others see me fail. Being hungry is perhaps the first in a long line of discomforts that I can learn to live through.

 Now I can see how being hungry has been useful and awakening for me. Perhaps there is something which you are trying to change this spring. I invite you to use it to wake up.

One thought on “Personal Change: Why it’s good to be hungry.

  1. Jill, this is such a GREAT post! I love the way you explain and use the quadrants, and the way you use your own, very relatable, example to illustrate how they work. The kind of simplicity that can come only from mastery!

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