What do you want to achieve or experience in your life and just how important is health in that pursuit. For the past 17years I’ve been observing human behaviour from my chiropractic office and I’ve seen the habits that lead to health and those that drag us away from it.
I have always had a keen interest in health and wellbeing but I definitely haven’t always been well. I’ve learnt some difficult lessons in the process but now feel at 41years of age that I am starting to get a handle on what it takes to spend the rest of my life in peak health.
Being healthy is more than just the absence of any overt symptoms, it’s a complete and dynamically balanced synergy of physical, mental and social elements.
I want nothing more than to enjoy my life. As the writer/philosopher Ayn Rand wrote ‘The maintenance of life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. To hold one’s own life as one’s ultimate value, and one’s own happiness as one’s highest purpose are two aspects of the same achievement. And when one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: “This is worth living for”—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself’. The way I interpret this is that experiencing happiness is the indicator of living a successful life, that which brings happiness to me is different to anyone and determined by morals and values. I have observed just how important my level of health and wellbeing is to my happiness and enjoyment of life and my enjoyment of life is central to my role as a father, husband, friend and practitioner.
But what has become more and more clear to me over the years is just how complex achieving happiness is.
The nursery rhyme row your boat gently down the stream, merrily life is but a dream depicts an ideal scene in which everything is easy and flows, it implies that joy and merriment is achieved in the absence of struggle.
In my life I’ve come to realise this is bullshit and at best only one side of the multifaceted dice that is our life experience. Can happinesss be achieved by plunging into ice cold water, or dropping in to a heavy left hander at Teahupoo and being spat out at the end or holding your brand new baby after 36 hours of labour?
The rowing down stream comes about only because of the struggle of deciding first that that is what you want at the expense of any other activity. Then it’s the hauling the boat down to the river, packing the oars, life vests, picnic basket, fishing rods etc. The rhyme doesn’t mention the work and sacrifice involved in saving up to buy the boat, the cleaning of the boat and other maintenance. But I tell you now the rowing down stream is all the sweeter for that struggle. Joe De Sena of SpartanUp! Podcast and founder of Spartan Race carries a heavy kettle bell with him everywhere he goes. He does this as a constant reminder that struggle is important in the pursuit of success. Gary Vaynerchuk once said that people behave in their life as if they’re coming back, as if this is some kind of dress rehearsal for their real life, well folks we ain’t coming back, this is it, so make of it what you will. I don’t quite enjoy fishing (or anything for that matter) as much without the struggle. My brother loves to fish so much that he engages in the preparation of his boat and fishing gear with the focus and enthusiasm of a pro. He derives happiness from others enjoying the effect of his dedication on a deeper level than those fishing with him, who’s only real effort is turning up on time and then helping with the soap water hose down of the boat at the end of a fun day.
What I now know to be true is that I need struggle in regular doses to feel the joy that creates the life I want to live. To this end I credit early mornings, exercise, sunrises and cold water for a large part of my joy each day. I credit running a business with all its many facets as a continual source of inspiration and I credit the complexities of marriage and parenthood for my lifetime joy. Without the struggle there would be no joy.
I believe as a community we need to acknowledge this. I believe as humans we are all hard wired to seek comfort and that during the evolution of man we have made life so comfortable that we are now faced with the reality that if we don’t build struggle into our lives we face a life of beige, blandness and the abyss of boredom and illness. We’ve convinced ourselves that happiness and in fact life can be achieved by irrational means, but by living outside of natural laws we merely survive. As Rand says ‘We can try to seek happiness in any irrational fraud, any whim, any delusion, any mindless escape from reality, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment nor to escape the consequences’. You cant short cut health, happiness or success. The goal is to not enjoy the struggle but to appreciate it for what it is. The recharging of the joy.
As a result of my role as a health care practitioner, given the responsibility in society for caring for people when they are not well I have had the 10000+ hours of exposure to what it takes to end up in a state of mere survival and have developed the tools for what to do about it. This has allowed me the insight to create a roadmap that can mute the static and simplify the search for finding the true happiness that comes from a life well lived.
I call this program the pursuit of modern wellbeing and over the next few months ill be sharing it with you.