Intuitively, we all know what makes us happy and healthy in the long term.
Many of us have read articles and books in search of habits that lead to happiness and health.
Sometimes you may believe that you are best served by seeing and following specific examples.
However, I offer you the idea that they are merely the starting place of your own learning.
As with all principles, the key lies in experience.
I can and will tell you specifically what comprises the components of holistic health, as I understand.
All the habits listed here feed into each other. They are neither powerless alone nor invincible together.
They are simply ideas.
Ultimately, you will learn in your own time, place, and way the philosophies of your own happiness.
It is as Bruce Lee says:
“All types of knowledge, ultimately mean self knowledge. Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
Without further belaboring this point, I present to you the habits of the happy and healthy.
Number one: Stop worrying about worrying.
In an ideal world, we all have the capacity to immediately turn negative emotions into fuel. In the real world, this process often takes time. When events, other people’s words, and our own bodily state align to produce a negative thought pattern, we experience anxiety and worry.
There is only so much you can control in the immediate present. The key lies in ceasing the propagation of the cycle. We cannot avoid fear, and we cannot avoid worry. Life, even rustic, rural life has its share of timely stresses that serve to test our resilience.
You will find that though it is difficult to deny fear and anxiety their place in the present, it is natural to dissipate the worry of worry and the fear of fear.
How? For one, you can stop thinking about stopping it. Seldom does dwelling on worry yield less worry.
As Alan Watts the philosopher once stated.
“Don’t try to stop thinking because if you try to you will be a person trying to make rough water smooth with a flat iron. All that will do is stir it up.”
Instead, let the stream of your mind smooth out by its own accord. Accept, and then move on from the programmed attachment to thought.
Number Two: Meditate.
Meditation is the idea of purposeful thoughtlessness. It is simple, elegant, and yet powerful in its practice.
Meditation’s beauty lies in its versatility. It does not, and need not, mean the same thing to everyone. To me, it is simply finding a quiet space to sit for 20 minutes. During this time the goal is to calmly pass up thoughts in favor of nothingness while breathing deeply into one’s belly.
I offer that this is where you start if you are new to meditation, which can occur in many ways. They include guided mediation, relaxation with music, active meditation in the form of yoga, and many more. The flavors are varied, but they all cultivate and nourish peace of mind. With peace of mind, one can face the turmoil of life with more grace and grounded-ness.
Number Three: Exercise.
The scientifically proven benefits to physical and mental health aside, exercise is what we naturally do best as human beings. It is only natural to run, jump, climb, walk, and breathe. Simply put, to exercise is to be human.
If you hold this idea in your mind, you can start to see exercise as not a chore or a task, but a natural inclination. In the same way that we enjoy intimacy and good food, we can enjoy regular exercise.
I prefer to do most of my exercise outdoors where there is nature. That includes parks, beaches, trails, and my own backyard. Below are all the forms of exercises I do:
- P90X, which I have converted to MP3’s in order to do outside. All the exercises become intuitive and simple to do after a few weeks. My favorites are Yoga X, Plyo X, and MMX (from P90X3).
- Weight training with a barbell. To me the advantage of a barbell is the symmetry of muscle engagement. I prefer to do compound exercises that engage my core, including overhead presses, Romanian deadlifts, and bent over back rows. I also get a great pump from doing bicep curls with barbells.
- Jogging. My absolute favorite warm up/ maintenance exercise is jogging. I go jogging in forests, trails, and even in my own backyard. I recommend moderate pace jogging with a hoodie so as to get a good sweat, which adds to the concentration and aid’s the body’s natural excretion of toxins. I do not recommend jogging where there is a lot of traffic due to the pollution and risk of being run over.
- Walking. I believe walking is truly an underrated exercise. It improves circulation, coordination, and stability, which are important in both short and long term health. When I sit to work or study, I get up and walk around every half an hour or so. I also prefer a nice stroll after dinner as per Chinese tradition. Wherever your fitness level is, I offer that you walk often.
Number Four: Socialize.
As we are social creatures, loneliness is a detriment to our long term health. Trust me when I say I prefer to do work with focus on my own. However, even I need to be with good people regularly. I emphasize the word good. You’ll want to be with people who enrich your life and provide you with positive emotions.
Though it is normal to sympathize with those in your circle about personal struggles, I offer that you do not normalise socialising with whiny people. Only you know what your thresholds and emotional tolerances are, so I will not tell you what kinds of people I prefer.
I only recommend that you form an understanding of what kinds of people motivate you to be BETTER, not worse.
Ask yourself in an honest way: What am I getting out of this?
As with everything else in your life, engage or distance yourself accordingly.
Number Five: Eat a healthy diet.
People today are more aware of the impact of diet on both health and mood, and that is a good thing.
I offer you the idea of traditionalism when it comes to creating your diet.
Ask yourself before engaging in any health fad, how did the healthiest of my race’s ancestors eat?
With this question in mind as you gain knowledge, you may start to realize what your ideal diet is. They may or may not resemble what you learn through reading, but then again not every healthy diet has to include an acai-avocado-pomegranate salmon bowl- Or any of those ingredients, period.
Keep the same open-mindedness as you read my diet tips below:
- Eat more whole foods. Eat more organic. Eat more vegetables. Shop around the aisles, not in them. The reasons are simple: More micro nutrients, more balanced macronutrient profiles, and fewer toxins (additives, preservatives, and artificial flavouring).
- Drink more water. Your body thrives when you give it good water. I like to drink a glass of water every morning as it helps with my cognition. Staying hydrated is good for the kidney and heart, and I find that hydration helps combat drowsiness and loss of focus.
- Eat natural, unpasteurized fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchee. Drink organic, grass fed yogurt and kefir. I used to have heartburn and dyspepsia, both of which have been alleviated by eating natural probiotic-rich foods. One does not need to eat much at all (one spoon full at each meal is adequate) to gain the benefits. In addition, there is increasing research evidence linking gut health with mental health. The optimization of the former through the natural, traditional way is my preference.
- Cut out processed foods, fast foods, and MSG laden foods.
- Drink green tea and coffee. Coffee (and I emphasize the singular, as in one cup per day) is a great supplement to a creative mind. Coffee raises awareness and focus, and helps get me in the zone. In addition, there is scientific evidence showing that regular coffee drinking has many health benefits. They include: Lowering risk of colon and liver cancer and lowering the rates of anxiety and depression. Green tea has similar health benefits, and along with coffee contains a lot of antioxidants used by the body to combat stress, inflammation, and untimely aging.
(I will detail the specifics of enjoying coffee and tea in a later article.)
Number Six: Sleep well.
Good sleep is an indicator of good health and mood, but can contribute to them as well.
Sleep hygiene can be easily optimised by doing the following:
- Sleep before 10 PM. This way you will wake up before work and not be excessively tired (unless you work really early, in which case I offer that you sleep even earlier). Here I present the concept of traditionalism again, as our ancestors slept and woke in synchrony with the sun.
- Wake up naturally. This will largely depend on having sufficient sleep. With that said things that can help include drinking one glass of water before bed (unless you have bladder/frequency issues) and using a very calm alarm tone, if at all.
- Do NOT use computers, tablets, or phone right before bed. Get your work done early and get off social media. The blue hue of the screen can negatively influence your brain’s sleep center.
- Relax before bed. Take a shower, massage your face and around your eyes. Use a massage ball to loosen up the feet, neck, and back. Stretch. Take some deep breaths. Do what feels intuitively relaxing, and wind down your day with ease.
- Use your bed for sleep and sex. Avoid using phones and tablets while in bed and napping during the day.
Number Seven: Embrace Happiness.
Repeat the mantra of acceptance, gratitude, and belief every day. Thank the world for your existence and for all that is good in your life. I have a mantra that I express each day at meal time:
I am grateful for this food I have in front of me. I am grateful for this appetite.
I am grateful for all the things and people in my life. I am grateful for this life.
I am grateful for this journey, this adventure, this trip of trips, and this great lesson learned.
And I am grateful for this moment. Thank you. Thank you.
Create your own set of affirmations, and build on them over time. Just know that while it may seem pointless at first, the rewards are subtle and appreciate overtime.
Remember to smile and smile often.
Number Eight: Strive to learn.
“To realise that you do not understand is a virtue.” –Lao Tzu
To me one of the greatest joys in life is found in learning. To this day, the feeling of opening a page, an article, or an audio-book fills me with excitement. The feeling of partaking in the distilled experience of one who has led a certain journey is deeply rewarding on a human level. As I have said, you will come to your own philosophy via experience. It is the marriage of lessons gained from others and yourself that ultimately brings true wisdom.
My only recommendations regarding learning are:
- Never stop learning. Learn according to what your personal aspirations are. Somewhere along the way you may even realize that all knowledge is interrelated.
- Always question what you see and hear. Only when a bird can fly without wings can a human being thrive without thinking.
- Be humble. Do not pretend to know something when you do not because you will not learn. To listen is to give a great gift to the speaker and greater gift to yourself.
- Learn in many ways. Learning is the lifelong accumulation of knowledge and self-realization. Thus it neither begins nor ends with school. Much of self-realization occurs in real life, when one takes on responsibilities and independence. The internet exists for you to gain knowledge in all aspects of life, as evidenced by you reading this article right now.
That is it.
I have no doubt that you will find more habits that work for you as you walk the road of happiness.
If there is anything you can take from this article, it is simply this:
Enjoy your time on this Earth. Learn so that you may earn wealth, health, and happiness in your own way.
Walk the way without regret, and pass your wisdom onto others after you. When you pass over to the great beyond, pass as a hero going home at the end of a great day.
Until next time.