Healthy Lifestyle Fundamentals - Order out of Chaos
There’s not much worse than watching yourself do something you know you shouldn’t, and being unable to stop. When your behavior is seen as unacceptable, weak, or pathetic to other people, that can more readily be disregarded as the criticism of negative people; but when you do something that goes against your OWN integrity, there’s little escaping that outside of cognitive dissonance and splitting personalities. And most of us don’t have or want those abilities! Sure, you can numb this feeling or escape it temporarily with drugs, alcohol, sex, buying new things, TV, etc. or worse, justifying your action is okay or “not that bad”, but you always come down from that high or delusion and are hit with the stark reality that you are destroying your life with bad habits and decisions, that you are unhappy.
We are machines; programmed habits. We unconsciously look for patterns and seek out the most efficient way to meet our desires.
We are humans. We want to feel. We want experience. And we want those experiences to feel good. Why then, do we often knowingly make choices that cause us to suffer?
The answer lies in the question: Because our mind lies to us when it knowingly causes suffering. The machine lies within our mind. It is a blessing of efficiency, hell bent on surviving and avoiding pain, but it is a curse of stagnation if not checked properly by the human aspect. Judgment Day is every day. We must be willing to take a hard look at ourselves and make sure we aren’t running old programs installed from an unhealthy childhood, letting our ego run wild. When a program is judged as unworthy, it must be over-ruled by The One... the human will... within us.
The Answer Lies Within
Your wish is your command,
Unless it conflicts with the law of the land.
And if you do not take this stand,
That’s at stake,
Will be shaped,
By another’s hand.
This means that you must take responsibility for that which you can control, your destiny. That which you can’t change, you must accept.
A wise man recognizes the difference between that which he can change and that which is innate. A fool confuses that which he can change as innate.
We must resolve to recognize and actually change what can be changed for the better; and to recognize and accept that which is innate for the peace of mind. Choosing otherwise causes chaos, we become victims who resist reality; making excuses and telling stories of how it’s not our fault we feel the way we do.
An example of innate is height. A short man can feel inadequate all his life and compromise his ability to attract a woman he desires, since he doesn’t embody confidence, and he probably won’t even try to go after the women he desires most, thinking that they are “out of his reach”.
An example of confusing that which you can change as innate is being fat. The percentage of people who are genetically dysfunctional enough to create obesity is easily less than 5%. Probably more like .2%. Have you ever seen an overweight animal in the wild? The zoo is a different story. They are just as sedentary as we are. The point is, that without the recognition that what you believe as innate might just be a limiting belief that you adopted in order to make yourself feel better about it, you won’t ever change it. You’ll assume you are a victim of heredity. Same goes for heart disease, breast cancer, depression, and so on. The vast majority of people learn a lifestyle growing up that produces these. They aren’t born with them.
Children are near-sighted. Actual adults are clear-sighted. They see the forest for the trees.
People tend to take the easy or pleasurable route whenever possible.
In their quest for self-worth, they will unconsciously utilize words such as human nature or human tendency, justifying their actions as acceptable because so many people fall prey to these tendencies. People default on this answer because they are hoping to free themselves of any guilt they have for not doing what they know was right. Sure, it may make them feel good in the immediate moment by softening the blow of reality, but ultimately, it robs them of the lesson they need to learn.
It’s a common cop out. But just because something is common doesn’t make it desirable. Considering that the amount of overweight people is estimated at 2/3rds of our population, sometimes it’s best NOT to be normal.
It’s unwise to take the easy or pleasurable route when it won’t lead you to what is best for you
When you let your instant gratification “self” make the decision over your ultimate fulfillment self, then you will be lead into chaos and suffering.
Mature could be defined as the fully actualized human - A person who has their life in order.
A mature human only chooses to experience instant gratification when it is permitted as wise by the ultimate, long-term vision.
Instead of taking the path of least resistance, a wise individual will have done what is hard and necessary for sustainable happiness, health, and success for himself and those he deeply cares about.
He will be able to look in the mirror and be proud of what he sees.
A mature human being doesn’t get hung up on one tree in a dark forest. She wisely considers the entire forest and coordinates her actions accordingly. Sure, this one tree may have some fruit on it, but at the other end of the forest lies a Garden of Eden. The child does not even consider this possibility, too caught up in the deliciousness of the fruit at hand.
Instant gratification is okay, as long as it doesn’t conflict with your long-term vision or your morality.
Put plainly: Do what you want to do, unless it conflicts with what you should do.
Doing what we should do isn’t always fun, but it will make us proud, strong, healthy.
Personal Development begins with Personal Responsibility
People make excuses for why they aren’t happy. They tell a story that disempowers them and keeps them from embracing life fully.
“I was abused”
“I was deprived”
“I was cheated”
“It’s in my genes”
It’s not somebody else that needs to change in order for you to feel at peace.
Once responsibility is taken, and the victim role is released, you can then actually begin to do the work of changing your life for the better.
Before you take responsibility, you’ll keep bouncing around from one addiction to the next; be it relationships, sex, drama, money, food, possessions, drugs, etc.
Addiction can be defined as a bad habit. Something that distracts you from your best self, your life purpose, your ultimate fulfillment.
“You are not punished for your sins, but by them”
A healthy lifestyle is attained and maintained by cultivating healthy habits.
Addiction is something that either harms you or other people in an unreasonable manner. We can’t avoid all collateral damage. But being very conscious and selective in the damage we incur is essential.
The reason people reach for a crutch, is because they are trying to fill the void that is created when they are not mission inspired.
We can get so attached to these crutches that it becomes really challenging to let them go and get on the path to our dream life.
The crutch becomes familiar. It harms you, but atleast you know you’ll get some pleasure out of it, some certainty, some excitement, some ego boost, and on it goes.
Going for your dream life is risky. You have to invest a lot of time into it. You have to take chances. You have to stretch yourself. But a crutch is simple. Pop open the bottle, call that drug dealer, order that pizza, and that’s why we choose it.
Certain instant gratification always wins over uncertain delayed gratification when you let your childish nature run the show.
How to Change an Unhealthy Habit
You must come to full recognition and agreement that it does not serve you.
We attach importance to that which serves our desires.
Each one of these crutches provides a vehicle for experiencing our desires.
We desire to feel certain that we can experience pleasure, variety, importance, connection, growth, and contribution (see 6 Human Needs Psychology for further info on this assertion). You can experience all of these in unhealthy ways: Such as a feeling of connection from taking drugs with friends, feeling certain of your control when you win a volatile argument, or a feeling of importance from being able to drink more beer than your buddies.
But once your compelling long-term vision for your life is cultivated and a better way of achieving your desires is presented, you can let go of your current vehicle/strategy.
Tony Robbins developed a wonderful model for understanding this concept -
Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4
Feels Good: Yes No Yes No
Is good for you: Yes Yes No No
Is good for others: Yes Yes No No
Serves the greater good: Yes Yes No No
Which class do all of the crutches reside in? Yep, 3 and 4.
Keep this understanding in mind when making your choices… that ultimately create your destiny.
Make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful, unhealthy people don’t like to do and ideally figure out how to enjoy those things. This is the process of turning your Class 2 experiences into Class 1. It doesn’t take discipline to do what you like, or even love!
But when you can’t figure out how to enjoy it, you’ll need:
It’s the ability to do what you ultimately want to do as opposed to what sounds good in the moment
It is the ability to issue a command and follow through with it.
“The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret”
The amount of discipline you can access is proportional to how compelling your vision for your overall life is. “The forest for the trees”. You are less likely to make it through the swamp if you don’t know there is something better on the other side. Something bigger, better, and worth letting go of your attachment to unhealthy lifestyle choices. That’s why it’s so important to dream big! To dream clearly. You have to see your compelling vision with enough clarity that you believe you can attain it and that it’s WAY more important than any of these addictions. But regardless, we all will need to use discipline to some degree…
Willpower – Another word for discipline – Is having faith in yourself to do the right thing – what must be done – what’s congruent with your integrity. – If you can’t get yourself to do this, then you are weakened to take control of your life. You don’t trust yourself to follow any resolutions. You don’t believe you will stay on that diet. You can’t be sure you will uphold that boundary. Faith is trusting that something which has not happened thus far will happen. Having faith in yourself is trusting in your future self to have the willpower to make the right decision. This willpower and faith is built in the present moment.
The goal is not always to immediately become habituated to your new lifestyle.
That can be unrealistic unless you have found a monumental amount of motivation, like cancer or a near-death experience.
Most people will go through stages of giving in to your cravings less and less.
This is the process of weaning.
The key thing here is to not poopoo yourself every time you give in. That leads to self-hatred, emotional stress, bad sleep, ill-health, and poor progress.
You want to be aware of how often you give in and simply get yourself to do it less and less while reminding yourself WHY you are doing it. That big, important vision of your dream life.
It doesn’t take quite as much discipline to do that, thus for most people, it’s more reasonable to expect yourself to do this steady approach as opposed to the extreme all-or-nothing cold-turkey approach with a higher chance of reverting back to your old habits.
21 Day Challenge:
Commit to doing something every day that will stretch your comfort zone
Something that you DON’T WANT TO DO, you have doubts as to whether you can succeed, but you believe you can do it.
Something you’ve been putting off, but you know it will benefit you.
One of my favorite 21 day challenges was jumping in a 70 degree pool every morning.
I HATED it the first time, but I felt better about myself.
And it got easier and easier to get past the initial hesitation of jumping in.
It was NEVER pleasant. But it built character. I feel stronger because of it.
Next, I applied that discipline to a 21 day smoothie diet. This one is arguably harder, since it requires all day discipline as opposed to a few minutes of cold adversity.
You could also do 21 days of meditation for 15 minutes.
Exercise for 30 minutes.
No Social Media
The main point is to build your ability to TAKE ACTION even when you don’t feel like it, so that when the moment occurs that you must decide whether to eat that donut, to buy just one more pack of cigarettes, to drink one more beer, you have strengthened your discipline enough to be able to say NO.
Conversely, when it’s time to make that phone call, to start that work-out, to walk up to that woman, to make that smoothie, and all those other possibly terrifying or arduous tasks, you have the strength to say YES.
And reveal a person of character, strength, and success.