The tagline for Forever Young Blog is “How To Be Happier, Healthier And More Successful . . . At Any Age” yet it occurred to me that I have never written an article on just that.
To correct my omission, I offer these suggestions.
1. Exercise And Make Healthy Eating Choices. Every Day.
Move your body every day. 30 minutes is optimal, but anything is better than nothing. Establish the exercise habit.
Especially if you are a recovering couch potato, start slowly and build up. (Always consult your physician before starting or radically changing a fitness program.)
Make sure your exercise regime includes cardiovascular exercise and strength training. You need both.
Especially when you are starting out, choose exercises that you like. If you don’t like running, use a cross-trainer. If you don’t like the cross-trainer, swim. If you don’t like swimming, ride a bicycle. Play basketball. Play volleyball. Dance. If you don’t like any other exercise, walk. The fact is, you simply won’t continue doing something you hate. So find exercises you like, or at least dislike the least.
That’s the exercise part. Pretty simple, huh?
Actually, it’s quite simple. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 70% of Americans are overweight (weigh too much) and 35.7% of American adults are obese (have too much body fat, a BMI of 30 or higher). We are the second fattest country in the world, after only Mexico.
To beat these odds, focus on the increased energy and improved outlook that an exercise habit will give you. On the inevitable days you don’t feel like exercising . . . do it anyway. Sometimes you will get into it and be glad you started. Even on days when it never gets easy, you will be satisfied with yourself for toughing it out. Trust me: the benefits are worth working for.
Healthy eating is as important to your fitness as your exercise program. Maybe more so. Fitness experts often say that you can’t exercise away a bad diet. If you are eating crap, you won’t be fit even with adequate exercise.
Eat foods from all the food groups every day – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. And eliminate, or minimize, the fitness killers such as fried and processed foods. If you must have them, save doughnuts, french fries, chips, hot dogs, sausages and sugary cereal for your 21st meal, a concept that I created and explain here.
By the way, protein includes more than red meat. Try eggs, fish, avocado and nuts instead of artery-clogging red meat.
The reason this advice to get and stay healthy is listed first is that the rest of the list requires a strong body and the energy that comes with good health and fitness.
Health and fitness will provide a number of unanticipated benefits, too.
Fitness can help overcome injuries. I have some experience with that myself. I have been able to live an active life despite having had a herniated disc in my low back for more than 10 years because I am otherwise in good condition and the muscles surrounding and supporting my injury are strong. (Of course, I am not saying that you can exercise away all injuries. Get your medical advice from your doctor, not from some bozo with a blog.)
Exercise, nutrition and fitness are the best ways to slow the aging process. In fact, studies have shown that most of the maladies we associate with aging are actually caused not by aging but by lack of activity.
Here’s the bottom line: It feels good to feel good. So, clean up your diet and get moving!
2. Keep Learning. Every day.
To reach your potential, and even just to keep up in this fast-paced world, you must keep learning and improving. If you are not moving forward, you are sliding backward.
You must continually gather new information, learn new skills and improve old ones.
Here’s a counter-intuitive suggestion: explore subjects and study things you don’t already know about and, in fact, might not even think will interest you. Exposure to different things will spur your imagination and creativity by teaching you different perspectives.
Fortunately, this is the best time in the history of the world to learn. Thanks to the Internet – the most important invention during my lifetime and, arguably, in all history – all of the world’s knowledge and wisdom are at your fingertips.
Here a few random, implementing recommendations:
- Read every day for 1 to 2 hours.
- Read on your digital products instead of on paper. Paper products are bad for the planet and not as portable or retrievable. So read newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. on your digital devices.
- Use one of the fabulous news aggregator apps. My favorite is a free app called Zite (which is now owned by Flipboard). You tell the app what subjects interest you and the app searches the Internet for the best information on your topics and gives it to you in magazine format. It is basically a recommendation engine. For example, although I change this from time to time, my Zite app currently serves me articles about the wide-ranging subjects of entrepreneurship, healthy living, philosophy & spirituality, photography, psychology, social media, sports, technology, travel, productivity and atheism. I start every day sampling this smorgasbord of information on my iPad while I eat breakfast. Without fail, I read something that informs, intrigues or inspires me.
- Take online courses. There is an educational revolution going on. Anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to learn can take free courses from the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world. Don’t miss this opportunity!
3. Take Action On Your Goals. Right Away And Every Day.
Ideas are awesome. Goals are magic. But unless they are married to action, ideas and goals are just dreams.
I recently read a great story about Richard Branson. In the early 80s, he was best known for creating Virgin Records. In 1984, he conceived the idea of creating a high quality airline. Only 3 months later, after leasing a plane, leasing space at airports, getting licenses and hiring staff, Virgin Atlantic Airways was born. 3 Months! I have been told that he took action on his idea the very day it occurred to him. As I was told the story, before the day was over he had leased an airplane and was in the process of leasing airport space and hiring staff.
Wow. You may not have the assets of billionaire Branson (yet), so you may not be able to implement such large ideas immediately (yet), but you can certainly take immediate action on most of your good ideas and goals.
In other words, the best way to start is to start. Get moving. Take action.
Most people never act on their ideas and goals, and most of those who take action quit when they aren’t instantly successful. But you can’t.
Immediate, and then persistent, action is the key to success in all areas of your life.
I surprised even myself with how important I think travel is.
Traveling isn’t just about going on a vacation to escape the stresses of everyday life, although that certainly is valuable.
Traveling is about getting out of your routine, even out of your comfort zone, and exposing yourself to different cultures, people, foods, activities, languages, sights. No curious person comes back from a journey the way they started it.
Through travel you will inevitably start thinking a different way.
You will understand different perspectives and have new insights.
Here is one insight I have reached from traveling: even though different in many ways, people throughout the world have more in common with each other than not. There really aren’t any significant “us” and “them” divisions. It’s just us, the family of man.
If you doubt that, just look at this rendition of the universe.
The most important thing all 7 billion of us share is that we are passengers on an insignificantly tiny planet in a vast universe. Compared to that shared reality, such things as national boundaries, different religions and languages and virtually every other difference become insignificant.
5. Live Congruent With Your Core Values.
Know who you are and what you stand for.
If you have never done this, you should identfy your core values. This article suggests a 3-step process for doing this. And this article lists as many possible values as I could think of or find.
Values are personal, and yours will be different than mine. However, for whatever benefit this example might have, these are my 5 core values (copied straight from my journal, where they are the first entry that I see every day):
- Continuous improvement
- Fairness & Justice
There is nothing magic about five core values. You could have two or 22. Or any other number. The important thing is that you recognize what your values are.
Once you know what your values are, live them. Living authentically brings serenity.
1. You can start these practices any time. It’s never too soon to start. And it’s never too late. You will always benefit.
2. You don’t have to be perfect to benefit from these practices. You just have to be better than you were to see obvious improvements in your life. How cool is that?
3. Follow these practices to lead an extraordinary life full of experiences, contributions, creations and, of course, good times.
In the comments section, please share your advice for how to be happier, healthier and more successful . . . at any age.