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You asked me about health and I thought I knew. But when I started writing, I realized I didn’t know a damn thing. In fact, I don’t know much about anything. Which is sad because I belong to a generation that has all the information in the world at our fingertips. I could look some stuff up, but then I’d be just another fool talking about things like I have actually experienced them. I can’t do that.
So here’s what I’ll do - start with what I know and then seek out a wise person that has been around the block and can help me with the rest of the answers.
Here’s what I know so far…
Health can be broken down into 3 main categories:
1) There is physical health, which can be understood as diet and exercise, or, how we treat our bodies.
2) There is mental health, which might very well include stress management and hormone regulation, keeping our brain from grinding off the rails.
3) And then there’s creative health, or what raged on as “mindfulness” all of last year. Some might even call it spirituality, but not me. And this type of health, we can understand as learning who we are by way of trying things that are challenging, bringing us closer to our own Eat, Pray, Love moment.
3 major categories that we can understand and remember - physical, mental, and creative. Simple enough?
But then I start breaking each category down and it gets pretty thick. To answer these deeper questions I found a very old man sitting on a bench.
Me: I should juice right? People who do it look healthy and I read about it all the time. Vegetables are good right?
Old Man: Sure. For a while. And then you overdo it and you’re hypocaloric and your muscle tissue starts eating itself as a way of generating enough energy to function as a human.
Me: Well fuck, now I’m confused. So I shouldn’t juice?
Old Man: No you should. But not that much. And only certain types of juices. And what’s your blood type again? You need to know that or you could seriously mess yourself up.
Me: Oh god, I’m confused. What about exercise then? Cardio for weight loss and lifting weights for building muscle? Calories in and calories out? All that stuff?
Old Man: Not necessarily. Modifying intensity levels and working out in short bursts has proven to be an effective way to lose weight. You want to think about evolution. Always working out one level higher than where you current body is comfortable. That way you’ll always be moving towards something. And you can design your workouts to produce whatever goals you want, whether it’s thinning out, bulking up, building stamina, blowing up them bi’s, or just feeling good.
Me: What about stress and hormones? Why is that important.
Old Man: They are quite related. If your hormones are out of whack, which could be caused by lack of sleep, poor diet, residual emotional and physical trauma, and so on then your body takes a beating, you get worn down and essentially stressed the fuck out. Then, this gets better, once you're stressed your nervous system is shot and will start working against you.
Me: How can I fix this?
Old Man: Yoga. Breathe. Sleep. Walk outside in the sun. Take a jog, push your heart rate. Figure out which foods make you feel like ass and which ones give you energy. Eliminate all the former. Stop participating in shitty relationships, tell people the truth, go see a shrink every now and then. Get laid, by someone you care about.
Me: Ok. That seems reasonable.
Old Man: It is. But here’s the thing. I know people like you. You’re going to shake your head like you understand and then you’re going to have a choice and instead of creating new habits you’re going to go back to what’s easy because you’re afraid.
Old Man: So here’s the thing… Don't do that. You should be more afraid of where your current life will lead you.
Me: Ok, I won’t. What about the creative and spiritual stuff. Does that mean I have to like, meditate and get all zen?
Old Man: Yes. But not the way you think. There are a million jack holes out there that talk about spirituality and meditation and they have given themselves interesting haircuts and have an affinity for baggy capri pants but they aren’t who you should be looking at. They are not spiritually or creatively enlightened. They are as confused as you are. Only they are dangerous because they are pretending to know things when they don’t.
Me: Then who should I look at?
Old Man: People that are constantly putting themselves out there and trying new things. People that produce work and have passion. Not people that talk about passion or ideas but people that have skills as a result of doing actual work. They are easy to spot because they will never tell you anything they will just show you. Show don’t tell. They taught me this in writing and it happens to work in all of life. If someone is talking, get away from them, they don’t know shit. Find people that are doing interesting things that you care about and get involved with them. Put your head down and do good work. Don’t start telling people that you know shit because you don’t. You’ll know when you know something, and that will be the point when it no longer matters to tell anyone.
Me: But what do I actually do to be creative?
Old Man: Creativity can be anything. Writing, drawing, dancing, singing, acting, all those are the standards when someone thinks about wanting to be creative. But it’s actually about the process of learning something new that is creative. In order to stay stimulated as a human you need to be constantly expanding your perception of reality. You can’t do that through reading or theorizing, it takes practical application. Your generation is absolute shit at understanding this and you think you can get away with being clever and building apps but you’re all on your way to be socially inept, empty humans. No soul, no joy. So I don’t care what you do to be creative, just do something that is new and stick with it - good, bad, and ugly. Only then will you understand anything.
Me: That’s a lot to take in.
Old Man: Sure. But it’s simple. Try things and take note of what works for you. Stop paying attention to what other people are doing because you're basically admitting that you don’t trust yourself. If you don’t trust yourself then you’ll never be happy. And let’s be honest, you asked me how to be healthy but this is really about your happiness.