Wellness is different things to different people, but to me, it’s about making my actions apply to circumstances that sound appealing. Being proactive about wellness means both envisioning the future I want to create, and enduring the pressures to make that vision a reality.
One of the hardest lessons to learn is there really isn’t much we can do about some things. In school, we learn about all the things we have some control over, but life is more like a flowing stream of change.
Wellness is not the pursuit of perfection
Perfection constructs in exercise or meditation might seem logical, but in essence, wellness is more sensory. Art, beauty and the limitless mind are different than reason. ‘Reason’ is a theoretical construct created by the thinking mind. Wellness is about bringing us back to the present moment to appreciate reality, even aspects beyond our control.
Say I am supposed to run 5 miles in 7 mins per mile. If I run the last mile at 8 mins per mile, have I been less perfect? The thinking mind says yes, but the limitless mind is different. It reminds me that the quality of the workout depends more on my perception of the result than the result itself.
Why are we so relentless in our pursuit of perfection?
As I run, training for a sub 3-hour marathon, I cope with thoughts that it’s too hard, etc. Except there is always that limitless mind that has a new way of looking at things. Taking time to familiarize myself with my limitless mind through meditation is a cornerstone of my wellness routine.
This is not to say the thinking mind doesn’t have merit, it certainly does, for I would not be able to plan my training without it. However, the thinking mind has limits. The thinking mind is only interested in what it can control. When I am actually running, the limitless mind is what is yearning to approach zero.
Both mind states are needed and both have needs. The limitless mind needs time to rejuvenate. This is why outdoor activities like hiking are so helpful, there are no distractions of ‘should,’ there is simply being.
It’s not the vase that’s important, it’s the space that the vase creates that’s important ~Proverb
Comparatively, the thinking mind needs input like lectures, reading, and videos to improve. For instance, one is not born knowing advanced calculus. Reducing distractions through a wellness routine enhances the capacity to learn.
Wellness happens when there is a clear purpose the infinite mind and the thinking mind agree on. Which is one reason exercise is so useful. It’s clear to the thinking mind that through exercise we become more fit and capable. The infinite mind is satisfied because exercise is inherently challenging. One can exercise and achieve great results, yet there will always be another line to push past. Thinking too much about exercise can make it harder.
The thinking mind constructs a ‘line of improvement,’ which can symbolize a measure of success to push past (ex. sub 3-hour marathon). For some, aspirations of physical fitness are useless, because the line of improvement is reconstructed when we reach the goal. This continuous improvement paradox is a construct of the thinking mind and a solution could be to replace it with a continuous redirection mentality.
Proactive wellness means renewing the sense of purpose by balancing the needs of the thinking mind and the infinite mind. This is a continuous process of improvement and redirection.
Counting our blessings is a saying that is repeated so often that it can seem cliche’, however it’s sage advice. This habit builds resilience by increasing our understanding of what we cherish. Family, friends, even our free time is a blessing, which we don’t appreciate until we are hungry.
Our needs according to Maslow can be turned upside down as in, the more we want something the less we need it and vice versa. So by staying closer to the bottom of the hierarchy, we can express the side of wellness that has to do with building connections with others.
Having friends that you can rely on, along with building a constellation of neurons with a sense of curiosity and wonder, are both ways to proactively achieve wellness.
Flow from wellness is a measured withdrawl more than a determined action.
Through Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, who studied to be a Buddhist Monk, presents this idea of strength being the capacity to let go of thoughts, which becomes salient under the pressures of the day. By proactively taking steps to develop your own wellness routine, you can develop a sense of what works.
Another resource I recommend is the Stoic Daily Journal, to develop the daily habit of journaling. Journaling can be tough to start, but this journal prompts you based on investigating stoic philosophies.
Finally, I remember getting this idea from somewhere, but I can’t remember where. I think it was from an article from the Harvard business review, but I forget which article, my apologies. Experiment cards are index cards that you can write anything on and the idea stems from the sense that it’s an experiment. I have something like this index card box with a bunch of experiment cards in it full of insights that I pull from my readings. I have dividers and have 9 cards that I review and revise every morning. I’m not sure why this habit is so useful, but I think it’s because I internalize the concepts better by adopting them into my daily script. On the one hand, the top concepts I want to remember have bubbled up to my top 9 cards; but, on the other, I have not thrown out the concepts that might be helpful someday. It’s the most disorganized heap of stuff, but it makes perfect sense to me.
These are some ways I’ve integrated a wellness routine into my daily habits. The key takeaway is that the wellness routine can enhance balance by stimulating curiosity, building connections and giving yourself space to breath.