“Fatigue is one of the fastest-growing issues in the U.S. Not too surprising. In a culture that fetishises working as hard as possible, it’s easy to trade good sleep and home-cooked meals for 10-hour days fuelled by on-the-go, prepackaged junk.1 Almost 15 million Americans work full-time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other irregular schedules, and about 19% of working adults clock in 48-hour or longer weeks; 7% work 60 hours or more.”*
Let’s face it, it’s impossible to feel alive when living like this – and this way of life is not unique to the US. As the article says, modern society has made a fetish of working as hard as possible and sleeping as little as possible. You may think that you’re super productive and that this level of stress benefits you in some way, but you’re wrong. You’re not and it doesn’t. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. Your ability to think clearly and effectively is severely compromised by continuous stress, and far from energising you, a stressed lifestyle depletes you.
If you’re honest with yourself, you actually know this. That’s why you feel so much better after a couple of weeks of holiday – after you’ve recovered from the cold or ‘flu you got at the beginning, that is. And don’t your sleep issues miraculously disappear when you’re away from work for a few days?
So how do you go from existing on stress to living fully? Here’s how.
My eight pillars of a life worth living
- A clearly defined life vision. Without knowing where you’re going and why, it’s hard to start living the kind of life that makes you feel alive. To create your life vision, you need to go back to the basics of who you really are and why you’re here, removing all of your family and societal conditioning (it’s there, even if you can’t see it yet). Find out what your true beliefs, values, rules, personality and worldview are, and craft these, along with your dreams, into your life vision.
- A positive mindset. With this mindset, you are happy and in control of your life. You prioritize meaningful relationships, cope well with the challenges life throws at you, enjoy what you’re doing (because you know why you’re doing it), and spend your time in ways that are consistent with your life vision and goals.
- Regular exercise. There’s no denying the fact that regular exercise is good for you. It increases happiness and improves productivity. Try this as an aliveness booster: 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, ideally in nature, and 20 minutes of more vigorous exercise three times a week.
- Quality nutrition. You are what you eat – you really are. You can’t expect high quality performance from poor quality fuel. Quality nutrition is the best investment you can make in yourself and your family. For starters: eat chemical-free, unprocessed food; cut out all sugar and artificial sweeteners; watch your consumption of grains – many grains contain mould and other toxins that deplete your energy and promote brain fog; cut out ALL soft drinks, including diet ones; stay away from GMO products / products made with GMO ingredients – “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food (American Association of Emergency Medicine 2009),” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid GM foods.“; drink lots of water. I’m a big fan of the Bulletproof Diet – the science behind it makes a lot of sense to me.
- Resilience. It’s important to be able to weather life’s storms when they arrive – and arrive they will. Greater resilience is a by-product of a positive mindset and a daily meditation practice is a key way to develop both. Find a type of meditation that works for you and start small – even two minutes a day makes a difference, so start there and gradually build up!
- Continuous learning. A bored mind leads to an unhappy person. Develop a lifelong passion for learning about things that interest you! Learn something new every day – it’s empowering and invigorating, because you’re doing something for yourself that truly engages you.
- Good sleep hygiene. You can’t expect to wake up feeling refreshed and raring to go if your sleep hygiene is poor. A good night’s sleep is essential, so you need to prime yourself for it. Start preparing for sleep a few hours ahead of time: turn off all LED lights – they reduce melatonin production and the regenerative and restoring capacities of your eyes; turn off all computers and smartphones (more blue lighting); relax; meditate; make sure your bedroom is cool and completely dark.
- A toxic-free lifestyle. Just as you are what you eat, you are also what you absorb via your other senses. Mainstream personal care products, make-up and household cleaning products contain many toxins, so do yourself a favour and buy the least toxic variants (i.e. those without ingredients you can’t pronounce). Better still, make your own, as I do. You also need to stay away from toxic people – those who are negative and bring everyone around them down – as their energy affects yours negatively.
There is nothing like waking up every day looking forward to the day ahead, and going to sleep at night grateful for the day you had. You can be this person – it just takes a 100% commitment to yourself to do whatever it takes. And now you know how to start.