In part 1 of this post I suggested that you don’t need to do everything at once.
Start with one thing!
I also covered four areas to focus on for health.
Here are four more:
5. Connectedness (to nature)
We get issued our genes at conception, and there’s not much we can do about that. But our environments alter the way our genes express themselves.
If our environment supports our well-being, that encourages our genes to switch to the ‘health promoting’ position.
So, one way to keep your genes working for you is to attend to the health of your environment.
There are lots of ways to create healthy environment. One powerful strategy is to connect with the healthiest environment there is: nature.
The natural world is where humans evolved, and research now proves that ‘nature-deficit disorder’ negatively impacts our health (and gene expression) in all kinds of ways.
Research also shows that you don’t need to make a trek to a pristine wilderness to get your dose. Even scraps of urban wildness and spending time with animals can have a beneficial effect.
Read more at Nature (our habitat) (or read Richard Louv’s book The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age).
6. Habits & Patterns
Habits start in the mind.
They are are expressed through our behaviour, and in time, they create patterns.
The brain is designed to prefer habits.
It’s designed to create repetitive neurological pathways, which reinforce habitual thoughts and behaviours.
As far as your brain is concerned, creating well-wired circuits is the best strategy for making sure you get things right most of the time.
It’s an ancient system that evolved before our capacity for complex thinking and problem solving. And it’s inherently conservative. It specializes in avoiding discomfort and danger, based on what it thinks has happened in the past.
As a result, human brains are not good at wiring helpful thoughts that lead to useful behaviours that will enable us to thrive in the future.
Taking charge of your habits, including the programming of your brain, is a powerful way to move your life in the direction you want it to go.
Read more at Finding the Pattern of Your Healing Path.
7. Self-knowledge (& Finding Resolve)
Can you trust yourself?
If you make a promise to yourself do you know that you’ll follow through?
Or does your resolve tend to disappear somehow in the perilous swamps of real life?
Despite an abundance of one-size-fits-all advice out there, it’s knowing yourself that makes the difference.
Understanding how you respond in different situations and knowing what strategies you tend to default to when you are tired, anxious, overwhelmed or bored enables faithfulness to your resolutions in the long-term.
Most of our default strategies are programmed into the not-too-smart, unevolved parts of our brains. The parts that try to run your life based on information about past negative experiences, because that’s all they know how to do.
To hack your resolve: know yourself.
Know your brain.
Know that the primitive parts of your brain are trying to protect you in the only way they know how.
If you are having trouble with resolve, your brain can be reprogrammed.
Through coming to know yourself (and your brain), you can begin to organize your life so you can trust yourself again.
Read more at Self-knowledge (and Happiness).
Setting goals is an important step in creating intentional change. Because the systems around us and inside us are changing all the time.
Creating intentional change means we are influencing those systems (around us and inside us) and nudging them in the direction we want them to go.
If we aren’t working at shifting them in our preferred direction, they’ll be evolving anyway, but they’ll do it according to their own criteria.
So nudge them.
They want to change.
They are changing all the time. It’s their nature. And they’re open to suggestions.
Interject a friendly invitation: encourage them to evolve in the direction you want them to go.
If they respond, and their currents start aligning with your vision for a better future, let their momentum help carry you along.
Setting goals helps you figure out what results you want, so you can put your energy into influencing all the systems that impact you.
Why Didn’t Exercise Make this List?
Exercise is a key element of any healing protocol.
Surely it belongs in the top 8!
Yes, it does. But I didn’t include it. Because if you’re picking just one thing, and you pick exercise, it’s really easy to do yourself harm.
I don’t mean we should avoid movement. Walking is good for all of us and we should all do more of it every day.
Neither should we avoid gentle yoga. Or any other exercise that is truly supportive of healing, based on our particular capacities on any given day.
But the kind of exercise that causes us to push too hard and add to the burden of stress we are already carrying, has no place in a healing protocol. That kind of exercise contributes to the conditions that promote and perpetuate disease.
How to Choose?
In part 1 of this post I emphasized that you don’t need to do everything at once. If a comprehensive healing protocol full of nutritional and lifestyle components feels overwhelming, pick one thing.
Once you’ve integrated the first thing into your life, pick another.
How to choose?
Pick the one that will be most fun.
If none of them seem fun, then assess leverage: determine which one is less difficult (for you) and which is most important (for you).
When you identify the area that is the most important and least difficult: start there!