Basically, it’s thought if you don’t have a major health issue and you’re not overweight, you must be healthy. However, this doesn’t take into account so many other factors, which might include your:
● Mind: how do you ‘feel’ on a moment-to-moment, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis? Are you truly happy? Do you spend your time upset, anxious, nervous, resentful, sad, depressed, jealous, or some other set of negative emotions? Do these feelings occur for you often? Many Eastern-based practitioners believe cancer is rooted in ‘anger’ and ‘resentment’, which means how you ‘feel’ dictates your chances of survival. And, if cancer is a growing disease in today’s society, this suggests our population is becoming less happy and fulfilled. Perhaps your mind deserves more focus than it gets…
● Heart: are you ‘true’ to self? Inside your heart, you know what you believe, how you want your life to look, and how you want to treat others. When you’re aligned with your heart, you exist in a state of bliss, love, and fulfillment. When you’re out of alignment your heart and mind disagree, and your actions become effortful, difficult, and frustrating. When you are not true-to-heart, you may experience anxiety, pressure in your chest, and difficulty breathing. You might notice you feel generally ‘off’, and you’re not in a very loving state. When you think about your life, you’ll lack fulfillment in these moments, and you’ll be able to use this feeling as an indicator to guide you back on your path.
● Gut: are you ‘listening’ to your gut? When you get a gut feeling about something, do you follow your intuition or deny it’s validity? Do you find yourself nervous, with butterflies in your stomach? How about right ‘now’ — do you feel a pit in your stomach? If you’re listening to your gut, you understand it’s consistently right; if you choose to ignore your gut, you might notice digestive difficulty, cramps, bloating, and a desire to eat unhealthy foods. You may experience a feeling of confusion with life purpose and how you spend your time. And, without a healthy gut, you’re unlikely to produce a happy heart or mind. This is all connected.
● Relationships: how are your relationships right now? Are they in the best state they’ve ever been or do you feel some version of constant tension and disagreement? Remember, these are the people with whom you chose to spend your life, so that means you chose them for a reason. It wasn’t simply an oversight, and anything you are finding ‘wrong’ with them is probably a reflection of something inside of you. Sure, it’s possible you’ve accidentally chosen destructive relationships in your life and it’s time to pivot; however, most of us only experience degradation of relationships due to our internal states. Being fully accountable and responsible to yourself can be heavy, and learning to see your relationship as an indicator of your own health is powerful. At first, you might want to deny this and shift the blame; when you learn to process your role and responsibility for today’s reality, I suspect you’ll find love has been waiting for you all along, and it was right across the dinner table.
● Connection to something bigger: there may have been a time in your life when you pondered how the world works — in a state of awe — a bit more than you do now. Or perhaps when you went to church, temple, the mosque, etc. you noticed you ‘bought in’ more to the teachings. In fact, you might feel you’ve spent enough time wondering about the world around you, and you’re ready to stop wondering and start living. Yet, the irony is that ‘living’ is so much richer with wonder and connection to something greater than thyself. I remember learning a connection to something bigger than a marriage is what keeps a marriage together, and I believe this is true. If it all comes down to personal fulfillment — as opposed to a promise to God, for example — a marriage is sure to fail when times get tough. Well, the same is true for any relationship and progress you want to make with your life. Serve to connect. Connect to thrive. Thrive and love your life.
● Trajectory/momentum: if I were to ask you if your life is progressing or regressing right now, what would you say? Do you feel your health carries positive or negative momentum? In other words, if you’re in the process of getting out of shape, eating poorly, and feeing more stressed, I think it’s fair to say you’re less healthy than the person who’s losing weight, feeling great, but still overweight with high blood pressure. Your health momentum is ‘at least’ as important as the modern definition of health.
So, I suggest we revise our definition of “healthy” and consider this definition instead:
Healthy: thinking, feeling, and being your best; or, when your human potential is within reach and you’re getting closer.
If there’s room left to optimize your health and you’re not working on it, you’re not being healthy. If your mind is ridden with negative thoughts and you spend time feeling less than happy and loving, you have room for improvement. And, if you’re comparing “normal” to the rest of a society who suffers from chronic pain and disease at an unprecedented rate, then success becomes a baseline instead of a goal.
Look at your life and optimize. Feel your best, own your thoughts and feelings, and always pursue the highest version of yourself. In the process, you might compare yourself:
● Physically: to Olympians, rather than an obese population.
● Mentally: to a wizard, who has the power to shift reality in front of your eyes, just by thinking about it differently.
● Spiritually: to a monk, preacher, priest, rabbi, or imam, but with the freedom to live your life as you please.
● Emotionally: to your best day ever, and make that your goal for today, tomorrow, and all the days to come.
This way, if you fall short, you’re still healthier than you’ve ever been. You are amazing and fully capable. Don’t let anyone tell you differently or try to fool you into a “law of averages”. Reset the standard, and compare “healthy” to your past, rather than your future.
I’m so grateful for you,
Originally published at drkareem.com on May 26, 2017.