Wisings #15: What if you eat shit?

The key to total vitality

I have to confess. I understand that the title of this could be construed as “wiping out” or “biffing” or “failure.” I get that. The original title was “What happens if you eat shit?” But you must know that extra words in titles can get them truncated in places on the interwebs and I wanted people to be able to see the whole thing. Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

Onward.

Take a look at that image real quick. I have one of these diagrams for all 12 of the Loric virtues, or core values. To the left is what happens when you need MORE of the thing, to the right is what happens when you need LESS. The one above is for vitality, or overall health and wellness.

Sounds fucking boring, doesn’t it? I’ll be quick about it, I swear.

When we typically think of health, we think of exercise and eating the right shit. Not smoking. You know, taking care of ourselves. The kind of shit the doctor recommends. But they don’t tell you the full story. Do I know more than your doctor? Not about medicine, no. But I know they’re leaving some shit out.

Because you can’t just look at physical health alone. If you want total health—total vitality—you have to also consider mental and spiritual health. And I know the spiritual word fucks with some people, but I’m not talking about any deity here. By spirit, I simply mean your happiness and serenity.

How to Improve All These Things

To distill this down into a concise piece, we simply consider two things, and they apply to all three aspects of your wellbeing:

  1. What are you feeding yourself?

  2. What are you doing with your body, mind, spirit?

With physical health, this is straightforward. Eat good shit, and do stuff with your body. Diet and exercise. You have all heard this a million times before, so I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about the other two things.

So what are you feeding your mind? What are you doing with your mind?

Fill your mind with healthy information. Stop feeding it garbage. The quality of information you put into your mind has the same effect as healthy food has on your body. Seek knowledge and wisdom. Do not close yourself off from finding wisdom everywhere. You can accept a piece of wisdom from a source you otherwise disagree with, that doesn’t mean you have to accept everything that person says or believes. Many people will disregard a logical thing simply because they don’t like the source. Be strong enough to say, “They’re right about this particular thing.” Read, watch documentaries. Learn! That is how you feed your mind.

It is important to open your mind to new ideas and new information. Seek the truth, and do research to see if your sources are good. To do this adequately, you must expose yourself to ideas that are not already in line with what you think, know, and believe. Most people, when they say they’ve “done the research,” they really mean they’ve Googled the thing they already believe and found tons of data and articles and blogs that confirm what they already believed. This is called confirmation bias. It is not real research. To truly research a topic, you must look at multiple sides. Remember that we can only base our beliefs on information we have access to. If you’re missing key parts of the puzzle, your beliefs may be limited or faulty. Gather as much information as possible and then contemplate it, then you are in a better position to make a more informed decision about it. What I like to do to get the other side of the story is take the thing I agree with and Google it, but put the words “is bullshit” afterwards. It’s the easiest way to get the alternative point of view. Some examples:

  • Libertarianism is bullshit

  • Tarot is bullshit

  • Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is bullshit

You’ll get a gold mine of information that way, I swear.

Now that we’ve covered what you put into your mind, let’s talk about exercising your mind. Your mind is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more powerful it grows. This means you’ve actually got to think! Consider things, ponder, deliberate. Challenge yourself! This doesn’t just apply to the information we receive, but it really begins to work wonders when you try to learn something new. For instance, learning a new language or a musical instrument actually stimulates the brain and helps you create new neural pathways. Certain activities force you to think differently, to approach problems differently. A great example of this is to learn computer programming. One study found that people who learned programming enjoyed higher cognitive function than those who didn’t. Another study found that programming helped stave off mental decline. This isn’t limited to programming, either. Engaging your brain with mental games and puzzles has the same effect. Another thing you can do to keep your brain sharp is to practice memorization techniques. Anything you can think of to engage your brain is going to help. It’s all about exercise!

What are you feeding your spirit? What are you doing with your spirit?

So how do you feed your spirit, then? You feed it with positive input. Things that put you in a better state. We are surrounded by negativity. The news can be quite depressing, and we are inundated with stories of awful things, frightening things. This is because tragedy sells. It is easy to get wrapped up in all of this, and there’s plenty of things out there to be bummed out about. You must take care not to get too fixated on these things. You have to temper the negative with good things, the feel-good stories. It must be a balance. Feel your spirit by consuming content that inspires you, brings you joy, lifts your spirits, and fills you with hope. Think Chicken Soup for the Soul. There’s a reason those books are bestsellers. These stories help counteract all the depressing things we’re surrounded by. Not only do inspirational stories give us a morale boost, they also show us that things are possible!

This doesn’t just apply to true stories, it can even come from fiction. Two of the most important elements of storytelling are the character arc and conflict. In fiction, the protagonist has a goal, and the magic happens in the story when the character faces adversity and conflict on the way to achieving that goal. In order to have an effective character arc, the protagonist must overcome the difficulties in reaching the goal, which changes them in some profound way. They learn something about themselves in the process. The more difficult the goal, the more we root for the character and the more we believe they deserve success. There’s no story without conflict. A story with trials is boring. These stories, as entertaining as they are, usually contain lessons. We are inspired by the characters, especially if we can relate to them in some way. In essence, the more we can see ourselves in a character, the more we root for them to win. If the character wins, it gives us hope that we, too, can achieve greatness. Thus, we are inspired.

So take in things that lift your spirits. It could be music that puts you in a good mood. It could be movies, poetry, books, stories, TED talks. It could be nature that elevates your mood and gives you a sense of serenity. The point is to fill your spirit with the things that lift you. Pets are another great way to bring us joy. Spend quality time with those close to you. Seek out people who inspire you, who support you, who want to see you succeed. Avoid those who seek to undermine your happiness and your success. That is the way forward. Too much negativity will bog you down, and may even lead to other issues like anxiety or depression. Don’t try to avoid it altogether or you’ll be living in a fantasy world. The object is not to create a bubble where you’re divorced from reality.

What do you do with your spirit? Perhaps the easiest way to engage your spirit is to do things that bring you great joy. Engage in activities you love, hobbies and such. These may be things that have previously been forbidden to you by others who wanted to control your life. If it brings you joy and does not bring harm to others, you deserve to do it without feeling guilty about it. It’s your life to decide! If you enjoy watching The Bachelor, don’t let someone else tell you you can’t do it. Why do they care? You do you. Try new things, meet new people, visit new places. Create new experiences. Follow your passions and do things you’ve always wanted to try.

Another way to really exercise your spirit is by doing good for others. Improve humanity. This might be helping a friend or a stranger. It might be donating to charity or volunteering in your community. It might be planting a tree. Improving the lives of others has a unique way of making us feel better about ourselves. It brings us closer to others and gives us a sense of belonging.

Lastly, perhaps the best way to lift your spirits and really gain a sense of contentment and satisfaction in life is to try to find and follow your purpose. Without a purpose, you may find that you’re never completely fulfilled. For some, their purpose is obvious. They know what they want to do in life and they may have a particular skill or talent that makes the choice easy. If this is not you, that’s okay. You may have to search a little. You can start by asking yourself what you love to do? What brings you the most joy and satisfaction? What comes easily to you? What do you seem to have a knack for? What are you most passionate about? What is your heart telling you to do? It’s okay if you don’t know. Don’t be discouraged! This is a time to experiment and try new things until you find something that truly resonates. Take time to discover what you like. The Japanese have a concept called ikigai. To find your ikigai, you ask yourself the following:

  1. What do I love?

  2. What does the world need?

  3. What am I good at?

  4. What can I be paid for?

The answer to all of those things is your ikigai. You may need to find something you’re good at. We are all good at something, and even if the thing you love isn’t something you’re great at, don’t worry. You can improve anything with discipline and practice. Keep going, and keep experimenting until you find your passion. Something will resonate with you. When you find it, incorporate it into your life, because your spirit deserves it. You deserve it. Don’t neglect your spirit.

Take care of your body, mind, and spirit to get the most vitality. That’s it for today. Stop feeding yourself shit.

-Janden


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