PURSUIT OF CALM #29
Physical training for mental well-being
Mind training for physical well-being

 

In my last post I pitched two questions, ‘how would you define ‘happiness’, and,is your pursuit of happiness partially, or largely responsible for making you sick, tired, anxious n grumpy?’

My intention with that post was to simply spark some reflection to see if you were possibly seeking, and relying too much on permanent pleasure and distraction as method to ‘be happy’. Behaviours that ultimately drain us of our energy, rather than engaging in restorative behaviours, and, actions that nurtures and nourishes ‘energy’ within us.

If you were to ask me how I would define ‘happiness’ I’d say, in one word, ‘Vitality’.

Vitality?

When it comes to vitality there’s a lot more to it than a robust physiology – sparkling eyes, cheeky grin, radiant skin, and an energetic demeanour. The reality is not all clinically ‘healthy fit’people seem particularly vital, whilst some physically frail people still manage to exude an extraordinary life force.

A 20 year old can have low vitality and a
65 year old can have high vitality.

We all age at different rates, so aside from the role genetics plays and any pre-existing medical conditions, why is it that some people seem to appear to age very rapidly, whilst others seemingly experience ageing at a much more gradual pace?

We’ve all experienced meeting someone for the first time who appears to be much younger – or older – than they really are. Often they look their age, but there’s something else defining their youthful exuberance.

Firstly, vitality has (almost) nothing to do with chronological age (the years you’ve been alive), but more to do with both biological age, plus that secret sauce…that ‘essence’…that youthful exuberance.

People with vitality overflow with that special something and they stand out from the rest.

Your biological age is how old your body seems, based on a number of factors, including how your chromosomes have changed over time, length of telomeres and DNA methylation.

It’s also referred to as your physiological age, that takes your lifestyle choices into consideration – including nutrition, movement & exercise, sleeping hygiene, stress management & testing, strength, alcohol consumption, smoking, drugs etc

‘Bad health’ will diminish vitality and ‘good health’ will act as a vitality enhancer. Author Catherine Guthrie says “but in many ways, the physical body becomes a mere display case for vitality’s many treasures. Good physical health can help signify vitality – but can’t deliver all of vitality’s goods.”

So where do the goods come from, and more importantly, where do they go? Do particular lifestyle choices, habitual behaviours and environmental circumstances make us more vulnerable to losing our vitality? And, if so, what actions can we take to get our vitality back – and most importantly – sustain it?

In this article I will touch on where our energy goes, and what are possibly the ‘major culprits’ that are responsible for making us physically and mentally dull, listless and lazy.
Where Does Our Vitality Go?

The Personal Energy Crisis:
There’s another global energy crisis that’s reeking untold damage on the worlds population…and that’s the “personal energy crisis”.

So many people are suffering fatigue, exhaustion, tiredness, weariness, weakness, feebleness, impotence, debilitation – a lack of energy – physically, emotionally and cognitively.

This enervation, this lack of oomph is, in my opinion, is one of the major contributing factors, if not the root cause, as to why chronic physical and mental illnesses continues to escalate globally, and worryingly across all age groups.

The busy-ness of life, pandemic-stress, our tardy approach to self care – nutrition, movement, sleep etc – plus the coping mechanisms we adopt in attempt to best deal with our realityare making us dull & lazy.

Dull in the mind by not recognising how our behaviours are impacting us, and lazy in both mind and body by either not wanting to do anything about it, or plainly tolerating our behaviours because that seems the easier option…possibly because we’ve been doing these behaviours for decades, and we’re comfortable in our habitualness.

We are haemorrhaging energy and at the same time scratching our heads wondering why we’re tired, grumpy, anxious and unmotivated.

The number 1 health complaint in doctors’ offices today is a basic lack of energy – and with the top selling prescription drugs being antidepressants – it seems we’re largely medicating ourselves, both with prescription drugs and our own choices of ‘recreation’ to remedy this problem of self-inflicted deep-seated lassitude.

With decreased vitality comes an increase in dis-ease.

 

Plugging the Energy Leaks 

So how do we begin to recoup our vitality?

Firstly, and before we frantically begin training, dieting etc we need to address where we’re expending & wasting our precious energy. This requires taking a bit of time out to reflect and audit your thinking and doing habits and behaviours. Hot Tip: Just look at the behaviours that are making you think and feel like sh!t.

Smarty-pant comments aside, we need to start ‘plugging the energy-leaks’, and we can only do that by identifying the holes.

Here are some of the biggest and most common culprits:

Chronic Stress
Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing noted that chronic stress prods the body to churn out elevated levels of fight of flight hormones that damage cells, tissues and organ systems over time, the toll not only shortens a persons life expectancy but the quality of life whilst alive.

Chronic stress also acts as the perfect ‘trigger’ that beckons our addictions and distractions – leading to further stress and loss of energy.

 

Dopamine Overload / Distraction Addiction (Future post)
“Because we’ve transformed the world from a place of scarcity to a place of overwhelming abundance: Drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Youtubing, tweeting…the increased numbers, variety, and potency of highly rewarding stimuli today is staggering. The smartphone is a the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. If you haven’t the drug of your choice yet, it’s coming soon to a website near you.

Scientists rely on dopamine as a kind of universal currency for measuring the addictive potential of any experience. The more dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway, the more addictive the experience.” – from the book Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke

It’s also a colossal energy drain & mind f***.

“We have the feeling that we are overwhelmed by information. 
We don’t need that much information.” 
Thich Nhat Hahn
[who passed away on Saturday]
Speaking at Google’s Headquarters in 2013

 

Inadequate Sleep
Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain.

“If we all slept enough? 
Our healthcare burden would plummet, we would have better mental health and fewer suicides…our business would be more productive, global economies would be healthier, our roads would be safer and our children would be smarter…sleep is the very best health insurance policy you could wish for.” – Matthew Walker PhD: Author ‘Why We Sleep’ 

We all, all know how refreshed, rejuvenated and vital we feel after a good nights sleep…imagine how vital you’d feel waking up every morning after a good nights sleep?
Unintelligent Eating

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” – La Rochefoucauld.
Think of the nutrients you eat as keys. Once they’re consumed they unlock your genetic and hormonal expression. Not only that, our nutrition plays a pivotal role in gut health. Gut health = brain health.

Unintelligent, child-like eating behaviours don’t unlock our genetic and hormonal potentiality, thus keeping us hungry, and constantly craving more hyper-palatable, energy absorbing foods – making the consumer feeling bloated, lazy, sleepy but restless, and cognitively ‘dusty’…aka dull & lazy.
Lack of Movement / Exertion
Exercise is probably the most potent drug we have for extending the quality and quantity of our life.
The optimal health of our physiology and psychology is predicated on movement. Humans are designed to move…period.

Exercise is the best antidepressant, and when we move more, we inherently eat and sleep better, have better moods, higher self-esteem and confidence. Movement is an opportunity, not a hindrance.
Boredom May Be Exhaustion
Most of our activities are escapes, and incessant activitymakes the mind dull, and our body exhausted. We have, through the decades of our life tried so many things, so many sensations, so many amusements, so many experiments that we have become dull and weary…give yourself a rest.

Though we may deem it ‘fun’ or ‘relaxing’, we’re not fixated with our devices, streaming services, alcohol, shopping, social media & gambling etc because we find it ‘interesting and engaging’, we do it because we’re habitually-bored. 

 

Low of Self-Esteem
We all tend to place ourselves on a pedestal of self-esteem, and by doing so, we’re constantly falling from this self-appointed elevated position because of the critical view we take on ourselves. As a consequence, we ‘fall’, and thus we self-manifest anxiety, stress, and loneliness that can lead to increased exposure to our addictions and distractions of choice.

 

You Blame Your Job
The reality of your life, the one you have chosen, as hard as it is, cannot be the reason why you seek and escape via your ill-health actions that repeatedly bleeds you of your energy-levels. 

Your job(s) in life are hugely demanding & thus requires immense energy. Whether you’re a wife, husband, mother, father, friend, son, daughter, employee or employer… it’s a big job. It’s fatiguing, it causes frustration, anger, and anxiety,  as well as joy, fulfilment, opportunity, growth and happiness. 

We need lots of energy to deal with the inevitable difficulties of reality, just as much as we need to lots of energy to see & glean the joy and purpose that is found in our day to day.This can’t be done if your reaction to your reality is to subjugate your health by blaming your job as a reason to over-indulge in an attempt to constantly escape.
Reality isn’t going anywhere
The Destructiveness of Self-Pity
We all have the capacity to feel sorry for ourselves, but left unchecked and allowed to escalate and take control of our lives it’s downright self-destructive.

The Covid pandemic has, and looks set to continue, to affect every single one of us in more ways than one – even those fortunate enough to avoid health issues. Family schedules, routines and connections, job uncertainty and the ever-changing, no end in sight, guidelines and medical advice is the perfect recipe for anxiety, and a host of other uncomfortable emotions.

If you have the propensity for both self-pity and self-lubrication, you have a very destructive, energy draining formula on your hands.

This is hardly an exhaustive list [pun intended], as there are dozens and dozens of habits and behaviours that tap our energy. Any thinking and doing behaviour that causes ‘conflict’, no matter how large or small, will drain our energy levels.

Exhaustion has such an holistic impact on our wellbeing – meaning that it insidiously impacts every aspect of our physiological, psychological, philosophical well-being. And that is why, I believe, if we’re wanting to revolutionise our wellbeing, then we not only need to proceed with the superficial self-improvement approach of eating better, being kinder to ourselves, moving more etc, but essentially we also need to instigate a psychological revolution – because it’s here where we can ultimately free our minds from the very burdens that keep us a slave to our exhaustion.
Next: Vitality Part II: Where Focus Goes, Energy Flows.
Vitality As A Vocation:
How do we reclaim and sustain our vitality?
Youth is not wasted on the young
Is ‘satiation’ the answer?

Feedback is very welcomed:
I’d love to hear from you, so don’t be shy in sharing your thoughts and feedback. I do truly appreciate you taking the time to read these articles, so if there’s any topic that you’d like to hear more of, or less of, do not hesitate to let me know.

If you need to any help, suggestions, strategies to improving your general fitness, strength, mindfulness, satiation, calm and vitality do not hesitate to drop me a line.
I don’t have the answers, but I’ve got plenty of experience on both sides of the health and fitness spectrum, which affords me a plethora of strategies, ideas, support mechanisms, techniques that you may find incredibly useful.

Lastly, do not hesitate to share this email, or sign up friends or love ones who you think may get some benefit from the rhubarb I write here

Peace & Health
Luke

In my next article:  Vitality

Coming Up: 

  • Your not overweight because you don’t exercise or go to the gym
  • 4-Minute Bursts of Intense Exercise – The Secret to Longevity?
  • The 4 ’S’s: Stress, Sleep, Sobriety & [P]Sychology
  • Is Blaming Your ‘Job’ Really An Excuse?
  • Reflection, Reading & Journalling
  • Strength Training
  • Satiation
  • The 4 “C”s: Calm, Courage, Curiosity & Consistency
  • Habit Strategies
Current Reading List & References:
Training The Mind & Cultivating Loving Kindness by Chögyam Trungpa
Dopamine Nation by Dr Anna Lembke
Welcoming the Unwelcome
by Pema Chödrön
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott
4000 Weeks
by Oliver Burkeman
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Mindsight: Change your brain and your life by Daniel J Siegel MD
Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall
Wherever You Go, There You Are. John Kabat-Zinn
“Start Where You Are” by Pema Chödrön
“Breathe” by James Nestor
The Places That Scare You” by Pema Chödrön
“In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Maté
The Shortness Of Life by Seneca
“Lost Connections” by Johann Hari
How To Meditate – Pema Chödrön
The Wisdom of No Escape – Pema Chödrön
‘Breaking Down the Wall of Silence’ – Alice Miller
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Atomic Habits – James Clear
The New Rules For Lifting For Life – Lou Shuler
Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker PhD
Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit Of Less – Greg McKeown
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahnemen
Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Resilience Project: Finding Happiness Through Gratitude Empathy & Mindfulness – Hugh Van Cuylenburg
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods – Catherine Shanahan MD
The School of Life – An Emotional Education
The School of Life – How To Think More Effectively
The Consolations Of Philosophy – Alain De Botton
Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief – Jordan B Peterson
The Owners Manual for the Brain: The Ultimate Guide to Peak Mental Performance – Pierce J. Howard
The Daily Stoic / Stillness Is The Key / Ego Is The Enemy / The Obstacle is The Way– Ryan Halliday
Indistractable – How To Control Your Attention & Choose Your Life – Nir Eyal
Mindset – Dr Carol Dweck
The Holy Shit Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in A Minute – James Fell
Stop Playing Safe – Margie Warrell
The Worlds Fittest Book – Ross Edgley
The Art Of Resilience – Ross Edgley
The Oxygen Advantage: Scientific Proven Breathing Techniques To Revolutionise Your Health – Patrick McKeown
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
The Practicing Mind – Develop Focus & Discipline Your Life – Thomas M. Sterner
Mistakes Were Made – Carol Travis & Elliot Aronson
Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Life: A Users Manual – Julian Baggini & Antonia Macaro
Good Habits Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick – Wendy Wood
The Madness of Crowds – Douglas Murray
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
Wired To Eat – Robb Wolf
Philosophy For Life, and other dangerous situations – Jules Evans
Peak – Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
The Body, A guide For Occupants – Bill Bryson
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

 

 

 

Disclaimer: It needs to be noted and understood that what I write on this blog format must not be interpreted nor construed as ‘personal medical advice’.
The written word can easily be mis-interpreted, especially my own god-awful writing ability.
I try to emphasis, as awkwardly as I do, that I have no skills, training nor studies under my belt to advise or diagnose when it comes to medical or psychological conditions.
If you need professional help or advice then please seek it.  
My own advocacy is shot primarily through the prism of my own life-experience. I only promote lifestyle and the related choices and habits that optimise sleep, mindset, nutrition and physical strength. All incredibly powerful and profound methods to improve all aspects of one’s own health-wealth, but potentially not the remedy ‘proper’ for those individuals that may require professional clinical diagnosis, medical intervention and/or treatment.
Peace
Luke