Well-being isn't something we're born with and it has nothing to do with winning the genetic lottery. It's created intentionally throughout our lives by creating healthy habits and prioritizing wellness. If this is something you struggle with, know that you're not alone and change is possible. Use these ideas to spark change and empower a healthier perspective on your life.
I listened to this article (it was recorded as a podcast) on a walk the other day and it had such an impact on me I had to listen to it again right afterward. There were so many messages that struck me as obvious, but things I’m not currently doing (isn’t this the way with most self-help messages?). Mark Sisson uses the term "vitality", but that’s never really struck me as a term that made me think - yeah, that’s what I need… more vitality!
That said, there were a couple of key things he said that really hit home for me, and I’m pretty sure they will have a profound impact on you as well.
Do the personal work around deserving.
Wow, is it just me, or doesn’t that just hit you in the gut? I speak from experience when I say that I have a lot of work to do in this domain, especially as it relates to doing work that lifts me up rather than work that pays the bills predictably. I love my parents, they did the best they could, but as poor immigrants to Canada, they had a true mindset of desperation around work that they imposed on us kids. We were meant to have work that would sustain us, put a roof over our heads and add stability to our lives. They had no concept of what it meant to be professionally self-expressive, creative or to enjoy mentally challenging work. To this day, I struggle to find my perspective of work as something I deserve rather than something I should suck up just to get by.
Do you have areas of your world where you’re lacking a sense of birthright toward? Good health is a big one for all of us, but truth is, most of us are blessed with being born with great health. It’s not a right but a privilege, and we have an obligation to maintain that great health because it’s a gift and trust me when I say, it can be fleeting.
Let go of the idea that our best years are behind us.
This is spoken as a crazy-fit 60-something guy who still sports a 6 pack and a pretty low body fat percentage and I can’t agree enough with this idea.
At 47, I’m as leaner than I was when I was 32, oh, and I’m also still 60 lbs lighter than I was when I was 22. I have to say that I have no qualms with being my mid 40’s. Sure, there are areas of my life I’d like to see further progress, (read note above about fulfilling career aspirations), but I don’t have hang-ups about being a certain weight or having to lose a number of pounds.
I don’t feel like I could never run a marathon or compete in another fitness competition. In fact, I embrace the idea of being a role model of what one can achieve at that age.
Accept well-being as a personal value.
This was so affirming to me. I do see wellness (physical, mental and spiritual) as being the cornerstone of a good life. If you lack this, what do you have? The idea of health as wealth is not a cliche, it’s fact. If you’re lacking health because you’re overweight, or out of shape, this will cost you in the short and long run. In opportunities for advancement, in relationships as well as in medical bills. I know this because I was once over 200lbs and I could see how my own life was being limited.
Life is very short. I'm hyper aware of this because my father died at 43 and my mom at 63. That’s my personal “why” when it comes to living a healthy, active, full life.
Related: Getting and staying lean after 45.
Proactively Manage Stress and Anxiety
I find that more and more of my readers are telling me that they're doing everything they can around diet and exercise, but they're still not losing weight. How frustrating, right? But when I dig into the other areas of their lives, like sleep, sex, maintaining friendships and managing stress, there's a huge disconnect. It's easy to think that if you just manage calories in and calories out that you can win the weight loss game, but as we age, hormones and cortisol play an increasing role in your overall well-being. Unfortunately, if you're not sleeping or you're constantly stressed out at work, then you're not going to see weight loss results as fast or at all. Well-being is holistic and managing stress and anxiety is paramount to good health and managing weight.
Well-being means putting yourself first.
If you can’t value your own personal health and wellbeing above a job that’s too stressful or a relationship that drains you, then you’re missing the value of the gift you were born with. You’re tossing it aside for the attainment of what? A VP title and a Tesla? An empty marriage to a guy that doesn’t love you? Not worth it, friend. Not worth it.
I hope Mark’s ideas put some thoughts in your mind about what you’re missing out in your own world. Opportunities, feelings of fulfillment, equanimity and heck, maybe even a little joy. If you could use some help with this process, I can help. If you’d rather DIY the journey, I recommend starting with the following three resources to get you started on a path of better living…
1. Read Mark’s post about cultivating vitality.
2. Read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - it will help you determine your priorities.
3. Check out this post on the signs of burnout and how to avoid it (<- it's not as hard as you might think)
Want more ideas on cultivating well-being?
Why not generate some positive vibes right now? That's a great place to start.