Does It Spark Joy?

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” – Marie Kondo

You may be familiar with the celebrity organizer, Marie Kondo. With a keen eye and clever folding skills, she is able to help people decrease the physical clutter in their life and bring them an improved sense of happiness.

The same can be done for our head space. What are you mentally hanging on to that does not spark joy? Above and beyond the physical possessions we tend to cling to for too long, what are there habits, beliefs, and rituals you continue to follow that take away from your inner peace?

The universe is a balance of opposites, we are either growing or shrinking, becoming more healthy or sicker with each day. And this same balance applies to just about every aspect of our lives from the clutter in our homes to the clutter in our minds.

Are you paying attention to what you’re focusing upon? In this age of limitless information, our minds are under constant bombardment. With television, computers, and cell phones, the constant assault of news and social media can be overwhelming. Then, we wonder why we’re unhappy, why we don’t sleep, and why we’re so stressed out all the time.

Think about what you fill your life with right now. Next, consider whether those things and ideas are truly making you happy or not.

2020 was a year of challenges to be sure, with the nearly nonstop drone of coronavirus news, lock downs, natural disasters, people getting sick and dying, and topped off by a fairly vitriolic election cycle. Moreover, we were stuck at home, unable to travel or even see our friends, yet we marvel at the fact that depression and suicide rates are on the rise.

So, here are a few simple tips to help improve your state of mind in 2021:

  1. Turn off the news – It’s very difficult, if not impossible to keep a joyful attitude and be positive when we are constantly bombarded by the details of a worldwide pandemic mixed with the civil strife of the past year. With the continuous news feed of people becoming sick and dying, riots, rises in crime, increasing unemployment, the West Coast on fire, election conflicts, and general uncertainty for the future, it’s hard to imagine that the news can contribute to your peace and joy in any way. Remember, it’s really a “bad news” business that profits on misery. Stay informed, but try to monitor your exposure.
  2. Limit your use of social media – What began as a great way to reconnect with old friends and share experiences over a distance has unfortunately become a platform for fear and hate. People will say things on social media they would never say to your face and post things that would be completely inappropriate in any other venue. For some, venting on social media feels like therapy, though often results in pointless, tense, and uncivil arguments with complete strangers who seem to go out of their way to belittle you and your ideas, and insult you personally, whenever the chance arises. So, just like sorting through the clutter in your home, sort through the clutter in your social media feed and limit your unnecessary interaction. Avoid the compulsion to respond to every negative comment you see. Perhaps even unfollow any pages which do not bring you joy and don’t make you feel at peace.
  3. Improve the environment around you – eliminate the things you no longer need or use. There is a general rule with personal organizers – if you haven’t used it in 6 months and it can be replaced in less than 20 minutes for less than $20, get rid of it. The cluttered space around you clutters your mind, and it’s nearly impossible to grow into a space that’s already full. If you truly wish to grow personally, you may have to begin by emptying your space. Remember, in the end it’s not how much we have, but who we’ve become that matters.
  4. Stop wasting time – If you don’t fill your day with high priority tasks, it will be filled for you with low priority chores. As a rule, completing high priority tasks will bring more joy, while low priority tasks bring little fulfillment or sense of accomplishment. Find useful and productive activities that bring you happiness, then focus on those tasks. Additionally, and more likely than not, your work probably isn’t as critical to your happiness as you think, at least not as important as your relationships and personal growth. Remember, every minute you trade for work takes away from valuable time you can’t get back with your family. You only have one life, and time is a dwindling commodity. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
  5. Set time aside for exercise – The human body is not designed to sit at a desk or binge-watch television shows all day. We’re designed to be hunter-gatherers, roaming the countryside and searching for food – 12-16 hours of movement per day. Sadly, may of us get less than 12-16 minutes. Exercise not only improves your physical health, but helps boost those hormones which improve mood and deal with mental stress in a healthy way.
  6. Choose to be happy – Sounds simple, right? And sometimes the simplest option is the right one, but can be the hardest to really implement. Happiness is a ‘serious’ problem. Let it go. You don’t always have to be right or relevant. Live in the moment, concerning yourself only with the people you love and those things you can actually control. Meditate silently and alone, emptying your mind of stressful thoughts and the events of the world which do not really concern you. Find your faith and trust that the universe will sort out every problem for you. You have to first choose to be happy and allow your day to progress as it should, if you are to ever be truly at peace.

And there’s more – lifestyle, spinal adjusting, nutrition, sleep habits, whole body purification, and improved mindset can all help to help decrease your stress and bring a higher sense of purpose and joy. Be sure to do your research and speak with the people you trust about ways to find better physical and mental health through downsizing your life. Be well!

Fat and Happy or Fit and Healthy

There is an old expression that describes contentment as “sitting fat and happy.”  Our modern lifestyle seems geared toward having both, often at the expense of your health and longevity.  While the United States has one of the most sophisticated healthcare delivery systems in the world, we rank 37th in overall health according to the World Health Organization.  Why is that?

Look around you.  We live in an age that is designed to sabotage our health.  Cheap, poor quality food is readily available at every turn.  Our jobs are slowly moving away from physical labor toward a computer driven economy that inhibits exercise.  We even have moving sidewalks.  So, the question becomes is “sitting fat and happy” the picture you had for your life?

Let’s look at the results of a sedentary lifestyle.  There are endless known effects of lack of exercise and poor diet, including:

1.        Increased risk of heart disease

2.       Increased risk of diabetes

3.       Increased risk of cancer

4.       Increased risk of stroke

5.       Decreases immune system

6.       Sleep difficulty

7.       Depression

8.       Digestive problems

9.       Decreased life expectancy

10.   General decline in health

The “fat and happy” lifestyle is a recipe for disaster.  While you may enjoy temporary satisfaction, you are setting yourself up for long-term failure.

Unfortunately, many people are led to believe that being healthy is out of their reach.  They’ve been told that illness is just inevitable and they are destined to suffer the rest of their life with some form of chronic infirmity.  Worse, many of the people telling them this are the very people they trust with their health decisions.

The truth is exactly the opposite and you have more power than you know.  Being healthy is a choice as much as being sick is your decision.  Your body is a self healing machine and functions optimally with adequate fuel and proper maintenance.  Further, where you are in your health right now is more likely a reflection of the decisions you have made up to that point rather than an accident of genetics or fate.  The biggest detriment to being healthy may be you.  Lack of exercise, poor diet, high amounts of stress, and poor nervous system health all contribute to a decline in your overall well being.

If we’re told that as we age getting sick is normal, does that make the 90 year old healthy individual on no medications abnormal?  When did sick become the new normal?  Where you are in your health is a product of the choices you make, a cause and effect.  If you choose to exercise or not, there will be an effect.  If you choose to eat junk food or vegetables, there will be an effect.  If you are able to manage your stress or not, there will be an effect…and so on.

Disease does not occur in a vacuum.  It’s the deliberate result of years of poor decisions and neglect…years of “sitting fat and happy.”  You need to understand that the decisions you make now about your health may determine whether you spend the later years of your life sick and tired or fit and healthy.  The decisions you make now may even shorten or prolong your life.

Even if you are sick, there are ways to restore your health.  No, taking ibuprofen for pain, an acid reducer for acid reflux, or an antibiotic for a sinus infection does not make you healthy.  You can’t get health from chemicals in a bottle.  Medications are only designed to alter body functions in order to manage a disease process…cause and effect.  They are not vital nutrients.  In other words, you’re still “fat” (or, more appropriately, sick) but at least you’re happy.  Health can only come from one place…from inside you.  The decision you have to make is whether you are willing to make the good decisions to take care of yourself as an insurance policy for your future.

The ironic thing about health is that most people know what they need to do to be healthy.  They know they need to stop eating the junk.  They know they need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  They know they need to get more exercise.  They know they should take care of their spines.  Many of the patients I talk to even know that the medications they take are not the solution they are looking for.  Still, they choose not to do anything about being well and prefer to live “fat and happy.”

Each day is a new cross-road in your life.  Each day, you have the option to take care of yourself or not.  Keep in mind that every day you choose not to act builds upon the next.  Ultimately, you need to decide for yourself whether you are going to live each day “fat and happy” or fit and healthy.