The Power of Less: Healthy Habits Made SimpleOctober 7th, 2009
Change is often difficult, and in regard to health, it can be overwhelming and discouraging to the point of giving up. However, by focusing on simplicity, it might be easier to start living a healthier life than you realize.
I recently read a book called The Power of Less, and although it’s about productivity, it’s principles are very much related to the discipline needed to implement and follow a healthy lifestyle. The author, Leo Babauta, is a minimalist by nature and is passionate about the topic of simple productivity. In contrast to the typical productivity philosophies that aim to help you cram even more work into your already busy day, the idea of simple productivity is to be more efficient, practical, and logical with your time so that you have more opportunity to simply be happy and experience the joy of living.
We all want happiness, and because our health is such an important part of this, we should all want excellent health as well. As such, I think simple productivity is an excellent concept that can help us live a healthier life without it taking too much of the time that we’d like to spend doing other things.
Many of us are frequently tempted to plan more work for a single day than what’s humanly possible. Despite this, we often do it anyway and it usually leads to nothing but frustration. By recognizing your limits and knowing how much you can comfortably handle or accomplish, you’ll be much more effective with the tasks that you choose to focus on, and the process will be much more satisfying.
There are so many important factors involved with a healthy lifestyle that it’s easy to be overzealous and try to incorporate them all at once. I’ve done it myself and I can assure you from personal experience that it’s an unnecessary source of stress which can be more of a hindrance to your health than the good habits that you’re trying to implement.
Choose the Essential
Once you’ve embraced the necessity of setting limits, it often leads to the uncertainty of what to eliminate. Your personal values, passions, and goals, which hopefully include excellent health, are what will allow you to make these choices. This is critical because if you don’t know what you value in life, you’ll likely find happiness to be elusive regardless of how well you manage your time. As Yogi Berra is known for saying, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
If you don’t already have a very clear understanding of what you value in life, I suggest that you spend some time thinking about it. Even if you do have this understanding, it’s still a good idea to reflect on it every so often. Once you’re aware of your values, you’ll become much more effective at making wise choices that are more likely to promote satisfying accomplishments. Every aspect of your life can benefit from this including your job, relationships, hobbies, obligations, and especially your health. Furthermore, the satisfaction that often results from living in accordance with your values is a strong and positive emotion that can be just as beneficial to your health as more obvious factors such as diet, exercise, and sleep.
Focus on One New Habit at a Time
Even when you have a solid understanding of your values, life can be so busy that it’s easy to lose sight of them. This is especially the case with new habits that haven’t yet become a natural part of your daily routine, and if you lose focus of them for long enough, you may forget about them entirely. An easy way to avoid this is to focus on implementing just one new habit per month. By doing so, you’ll be much more focused on it, less likely to forget about it, and your chances of making it a permanent part of your life will increase dramatically.
If you’d like, you can even prepare a schedule of habits to implement over the next few months. Here are a few simple examples that could make a significant difference in your health and wellbeing.
- Eat only natural whole foods with the exception of an occasional treat.
- Establish healthy sleeping habits. Better sleep is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your health and wellbeing.
- Dedicate some time each day to relaxing and reducing stress.
- Eat only organic produce, pasture raised meat, and uncontaminated fish. When possible, buy it from local farmers or other reputable sources.
- Spend at least 3 days per week engaging in a well balanced exercise routine including strength training, self massage, stretching, low intensity aerobics, and interval training.
- Drink more water each day and make sure that it’s filtered.
- Get an adequate amount of natural sun exposure on a regular basis, and if this isn’t possible, consider supplementing with Vitamin D.
Take it Slow
As someone who’s very focused on achieving, I often catch myself trying to accomplish more than I should. It’s important to have a balance between aggressively pursuing goals and taking time to simply relax and experience your life for what it already is. As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, simple productivity is not about finding more time to do more things, but rather to make time for what’s really important and not obsess about the rest.
Taking a slow and measured approach to change is not only an easier way to implement healthier habits, but it’s also a healthy habit in it’s own right. This is because it’s less stressful and more rewarding. Accept the fact that you’re not going to reinvent your health or your life overnight. In fact, it might take quite a while and the more prepared you are to accept this, the better off you’ll be. Finally, it’s also important to remember that most habits worth implementing are long term pursuits that should be embraced as a permanent part your lifestyle and approached with a good balance of ambition. Relax and enjoy the process!
The Power of Less
If you’d like to learn more about simple productivity, especially in regard to your professional life, I highly recommend that you check out The Power of Less and also ZenHabits.net which is Leo Babauta’s blog.
The Power of Less does discuss other aspects of life and even includes a chapter about health and fitness. Even though I disagree with a few things that are mentioned about saturated fat, soy, and endurance exercise, I think this chapter contains a lot of great information that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
For more suggestions of healthy habits to consider implementing in conjunction with the principles of simple productivity, sign up for my free course, 7 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Happier, and Healthier You!