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Optimizing Life

Posted Aug 11 2009 11:14am
by guest author Angela Chang
Baby boomer couple5 All boomers  have experienced ruts at some point in our lives, whether it's in the form of a divorce, being laid off, a death of a loved one, or just simply boredom. But how do we go about turning our life around? 
Some people suggest introspection and setting passionate goals. Others recommend listing our fears, and consciously connecting with them.  A simpler way to think about life is through the lens of three major areas in our life: the body, the mind, and the spirit.
Body and Soul of Man When we live life in peace and harmony, these three areas are in synergy, and life feels awesome. We feel joyful and energetic. We don't struggle with life – rather, things just flow smoothly. Even when we have problems, we fully accept that everything is still okay. When one of these areas is out of sync, we can feel subtle sensations that something is wrong.  It may be a feeling of sluggishness or apathy. On the extreme end, we may question the purpose of living and consider suicide.

Addressing these critical areas and methodologically optimizing each is something we can do to bring our problems down to earth. Rather than soul-searching, we can start to take simple, practical actions that gets us back on track.

The Body

The body is our physical health and biological needs. If our body needs aren't fulfilled, nothing else matters in our lives. I've met many people who wanted to achieve ambitious goals, but fell short.  Some of it was due to a lack of motivation, but they also failed to take care of their body. If you aren't eating a healthy diet, sleeping well, and exercising often, it doesn't matter how internally motivated you are, your body simply won't have the energy to connect with your passions and dreams.

Similarly, I've met many creative musicians who started a band, but lost interest in it after a few years.  If you aren't making enough money to support yourself, it will trump any internal motivation. Survival first, then fulfillment.

Woman exercising Taking care of the body involves:

- Getting enough physical exercise that tests our endurance, flexibility, aerobic fitness and strength.
- Eating a well-balanced diet that includes supplements if needed.
- Getting enough sleep and following good sleeping habits.
- Having enough money to pay for necessities such as food and shelter.
- Satisfying our sexual needs.
- Occasional fasting or detoxing

If you feel you have your body needs satisfied, you can always optimize each component. For instance, you may have a lot of physical strength but could work on being more flexible, so maybe a yoga class once a week would be a good idea. You could research “wake up” foods that will help you be more energetic in the morning. There's always something that could use improvement!

The Mind

Thinker The mind is the aspect of our life that involves utilizing our creativity, our skills, intelligence and reasoning abilities. It is where we connect with activities that give us passion, challenge us, and stimulate our mental capacities. When this part of our life is going well, we feel fulfilled. We often spend the majority of the day in flow, rather than clock watching.

There are many ways to improve this aspect of ourselves. Here are some of them.

- Learn a new skill every month. This could be learning a new sport, a new foreign language, a technical skill such as HTML, or building a go-cart.
- Read a new book every week on a subject you've always been interested in.
- Read a new book every month on a subject you already have expertise in.
- Use your creativity. Play games, or a musical instrument.
- Have coffee and a stimulating chat with a friend.
- Start a blog on a subject you're passionate about. Teach others what you know.
- Experiment with new hobbies and sports to see which ones give you that feeling of “flow”

The Spirit

Spirituality The spiritual aspect is basically your self-worth, and inner peace. How do you feel about what you are doing on this earth? Are you helping others, or are you simply being a leech? Are you at peace with your relation with the entire universe?

I know many people who have their body and mind needs fulfilled, but not their spirit needs. They are in high-paying, fulfilling corporate jobs but they tell me there's still a void in their life. I've also known many people who have an okay-paying job but feel great about themselves because they're genuinely contributing some good to the world.

There are many ways to enhance the spirit area of our lives. They include:

- Contribute something meaningful to society whether it is through your job, volunteering, or donating to charity
- Meditation or praying
- Journaling or introspection
- Spending more time with family and friends
- Mentoring or coaching
- Raising children
- Getting involved in community projects and activities

When one area is lacking, it will often affect the other areas of your life.  For instance, if you are not exercising regularly and eating a horrible diet, you will lack the energy to improve your skills, or contribute something to the world. This will affect the mind and spirit areas of your life.

The key here is to methodologically construct a schedule that addresses all three areas of our life.  Personally, I try to come up with one thing to do daily, and one thing to do weekly for all three areas of my life. If you want to be efficient, come up with activities that enhance all three areas at once. For instance, learning how to do yoga could potentially improve your body/energy, stimulate your mind, and help you get in touch with your spiritual side. Visiting a botanical garden, teaching a sport to kids, and working for a non-profit organization are other examples.

What area do you need to work on?
Are you strong in one, and weak in another?

About Angela: Ms. Chang is writing a personal development book that will be coming out late next year.  She is a yoga lover, a part-time herbalist and an expert oncandida and alternative medicine.

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