What do you do to better yourself? How do you stay healthy and happy in your own daily life?
One morning during the usual commute, I was listening to Shankar Vedantum on NPR’s podcast Hidden Brain. In the particular episode I was listening to, he had on Elizabeth Currid-Halkett who was discussing her book ‘The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class’. As she delve deeper into her theory of this neo-elite societal class that expressed their status through cultural capital instead of conspicuous consumer habits, it dawned on me that we are all not so different in our desires to be “happy and healthy”, but it’s something only able to be achieved by those with a certain level of money. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does this sound like you?
Listens to NPR for your news and podcasts, and reads the Economist when you can.
Loves to shop organic and visit farmers markets to get food straight from the source and support local business.
Practice Pilates, Barre, or Yoga at a very nice gym or studio to be healthy, to stay fit and to find some inner peace in your hectic day.
Can be spotted walking to work or to a cafe with a New York Times or The Economist tote bag with a lunch meal-prepped over the weekend, with your Apple computer and a book that can be found on the NYT bestseller list.
If with kids, definitely plans on breastfeeding for the first year (maybe into the second), and began stocking away money into a college fund the moment they found out they were pregnant.
Does this sound like anyone to you?
In life’s rat race, there’s always been this drive for the perfect life. A happy self, a loving marriage with cute kids, a fulfilling job, and a body that doesn’t give away one’s age. Nowadays, the idea of perfection is more in line with Walgreens’ tagline “the corner of happy and healthy”. This plays into the whole work-life balance idea that’s been much more prevalent in today’s workforce. The expectation of 60hour work weeks when you’re only being paid for 40 has dropped significantly, and the idea that your job is your life is no longer working for today’s millennial workforce.
So what does it mean to be “at the corner of happy and healthy”? This has been going through my mind a lot lately, and the ideas listed above seem to be the common understanding of how to achieve health and happiness. But I come to understand that there’s so much more to it. It’s not just simply eating a homemade salad and posting about it on instagram, nor is it the obligatory muscle pic to show that you’ve checked off going to the gym. Nor is it staying relevant to what podcast is cool or the netflix show everyone should watch (stranger things, I’m looking at you).
It’s about understanding the relationship between the mind, the body, and the soul, and how to care for each of them.
As intelligent and mindful human beings, it’s our duty to keep our minds sharp. I’ve found that, like a blade, left alone without a tool to sharpen it, it becomes dull and ultimately useless. One must continuously take care of it by putting it to things that challenge it, whether that be through new ideas or simply ideas that challenge your previous notions of normality. Nowadays, this is in the form of what media we choose to consume. But it’s something that each of us must choose wisely, and for our own good.
If there’s one thing I’m glad I learned early, it’s that there is no miracle diet that will change your life. Just by understanding your relationship to food and what your body needs is enough to stay happy and healthy. Exercise is good for everyone, and we all could use more exercise in our lives, but not everyone needs to go to the gym to get ripped. And certainly not everyone can. It’s about what your body can handle and what you are looking to achieve, and how to keep your body healthy, inside and out. You’d be surprised how much the use of sunscreen can do for you, more than any juice cleanse.
As for the soul, this is the most personal of the three, and it is speaks to each of our own sense of purpose. Why are we here and what greater purpose do we serve by being here? That answer might be found through the work that we do, or the relationships we keep, physical or divine, or simply how we choose to spend what little time we have here. In any sense, that is how we measure our impact, and our greater goals.
Now, I’m sure it seems like these things are simple, and it can all be done by anyone and everyone and we all should be ashamed that we aren’t living up to our potential. Newsflash, this dedication is much harder than I ever imagined. We all live incredibly busy lives. There’s work to be done, papers to write, the never-ending supply of emails that come in, and man, do we hate the commute. But in the end, it’s our well-being that takes the hit when we don’t care for it, like a garden without a gardener.
So, those who want to get that 8 hours of sleep, eat vegetables every day, maintain a healthy social life, exercise daily, take care of your skin, drink 8 cups of water a day, have a fulfilling career at work, and still find time to keep up your hobbies, remember this. Take it one step at a time. Keep your chin up, your head held high, and remind yourself that you’re doing your very best. That’s all anyone can really expect, from others or yourself.
As always, keep stirring that cup of curiousity 🙂