Looking to hold back the clock? Jed Diamond, Ph. D., offers some tips that could help you get your life back in balance and live a life fulfilled.
I find at this time of year as it gets colder and darker, my attention goes inside. I think more about my life, where I’m going, and how best to get there. At the end of the year, like most people, I make some kind of New Year’s resolution. It usually has to do with changing some bad habit like losing weight, spending less, or making more money. I also think about issues that troubled my parents. Both my mother and father had terrible pain in their joints as they got older. She had rheumatoid arthritis in her fingers and he had osteoarthritis in his hips and at this time of year my joints start to ache and I wonder if I’ve inherited their pain.
But I’ve found a better way to achieving super health, wealth, and wisdom than making New Year’s resolutions. It’s developing healthy habits that become so routine, we don’t have to think about them. Here are four that I’ve developed and found to be particularly helpful. It took me awhile to learn and practice them, and they weren’t all easy to achieve, but once you’ve got them locked in you’re on your way to an incredibly successful life.
1. Live in Balance with the Seasons of Life
For a good part of my life I would tend to get sick in the winter. I thought that’s just the way it was. But a number of years ago I made a discovery that changed my life. We moved out of the city and bought a house on Shimmins Ridge in northern California. For the first time I felt in touch with nature. I began to notice the seasons more closely and how the plants and the animals lived.
As it gets darker and colder, most of the natural world slows down. Things get quiet. But I realized that I, like most modern humans, began to speed up during this time of year. Beginning with Halloween we’d focus on costumes for the kids, then on to Thanksgiving with family gatherings and food, and finally we’d rush into Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
No wonder I got sick … I was out of balance with nature. Now I think of this time of year as a time to slow down, reflect, and relax. I enjoy the time more and find new ways to celebrate without all the hype and turmoil. While the rest of the human world is speeding up, I’m getting in the habit of slowing down like the plants and animals are doing.
2. Eat Real Food, Not Processed Food
I never thought I really ate that much junk food. I didn’t eat at fast-food restaurants and I tried to eat healthy food, but I did like cakes and breads, ice-cream, an occasional pizza, and a busy life forced me to eat out a lot. All that changed when I read a book by Baskin-Robbins heir, John Robbins, called Diet for a New America.
In his book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Pulitizer Prize-winning author Michael Moss says, “The makers of processed foods have chosen, time and again, to double down on their efforts to dominate the American diet, gambling that consumers won’t find them out.”
It took time, but now I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and I’m resisting the temptation to eat the foods the industrial food giants want me to eat. In his book, Disease Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well, David Katz, M.D. quotes Michael Pollan author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto giving a short and precise guide for how to eat well. Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I take that to mean to eat real food, not processed food and mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rather than meat, dairy, and other animal products.
It takes a while for our taste buds to adapt to getting pleasure from whole foods rather than processed food. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet Weight Loss and Long-Term Health and the recently released Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition encourages us to give up process foods and switch to whole foods. “When we go the whole way, our taste buds change and remain changed, as we begin to acquire new tastes that are much more compatible with our health.”
Eating whole is a habit I’ve come to enjoy!
3. Get Grounded.
For most of human history, we have been connected to the Earth. We stood on the ground. We walked on the ground. We slept on the ground. Now we spend much of our time insulated from the Earth. Most of us wear rubber-soled shoes that cut us off from the healing force-field of nature. But a new body of research has shown that earthing or grounding can get us back in touch with our natural roots.
In their book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? authors Clint Ober, Stephen Sinatra, M.D., and Martin Zucker, say “Earthing involves coupling your body to the Earth’s eternal and gentle surface energies. It means walking barefoot outside and/or sitting, working or sleeping inside while connected to a conductive device that delivers the natural healing energy of the Earth into your body.”
We can’t all walk barefoot, but there are modern ways to ground ourselves that are easy to use and help us get the benefits our ancestors enjoyed. There’s even a film (in which I was interviewed by the way) that shows how Earthing improved the health of an entire town. Getting back in touch with the Earth can be life-saving.
4. Become Three-Dimensional.
In the book, The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive, Brendon Burchard shares the three questions that changed his life. After being in a car that flipped over a curve at eighty-five miles an hour, he learned that when we crash onto death’s doorstop, we’re all forced to ask three questions: Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?
Developing the habit of answering these questions enables us to be fully three-dimensional. Living fully means becoming completely ourselves, not trying to live up to other’s expectations. Loving deeply means opening ourselves completely to another and being responsive to their needs and our own. Finally, making a difference in the world means finding our life’s calling and contributing our own unique gifts to the community of life.
True wealth isn’t about our monetary assets, but about the assets of our lives, our loves, and our contributions.
These are habits I can live with. How about you?
Photo: Roxy Shi/flickr