Here are 7 Simple things we do (& you can too) to be happier and healthier in life and love –
- Practice mindfulness
- Own your health and state of mind
- When it comes to food – less is more and if it had a face (or came from something with a face) don’t eat it.
- Exercise every day
- Positively challenge yourself, your partner and your relationship
- Say ‘I love you’ every day
- Say ‘Thank you’ every day
Why be mindful?
Suffering arises from craving - the mind constantly wanting things to be different or conversely - wanting them to stay the same – the Buddhist principles of aversion and attraction.
The practice of mindfulness - being present in this moment and breathing with awareness frees us from the cycle of attraction and aversion (even if temporarily) and makes us happier, less stressed, less judgemental, better in our relationships and life in general.
You can start simply by regularly checking in with yourself – am I here or (most likely) somewhere else entirely? If you’re ‘time traveling’ – dreaming about the future or thinking about the past, if you’re anywhere else but here in this moment come back, breathe deeply, relax, and be present. The more you do this the more often you’ll catch your mind wandering and be able to pull yourself back to the here and now. There are countless books and courses on mindfulness, but an excellent on to start with is ‘Buddha’s Brain, the Practical Neuroscience of Happiness’
Taking responsibility for your health and state of mind
Personal responsibility is powerful. Taking ownership of who and where you are now is the first and most crucial step to making positive changes. Ultimately only you can ‘make you happy and healthy’.
Other people, animals, circumstances and things bring happiness into our lives, but it is our own mental state that ultimately determines their influence. In a relationship for example our partner can be doing or saying the same thing yet one day it makes us happy, another we find it irritating – based solely on our state of mind. Cultivating awareness of how much control we have over our responses to our world and using mindfulness to positively manage those responses allows us to take responsibility and thus control.
Taking personal responsibility for your health empowers you. The moment you make that conscious commitment – I am responsible – your orientation changes. You are no longer a victim or just a patient. You’re interested in learning all you can about health, diet and exercise. You’re more engaged.
When it comes to food – less is more
As a doctor Glenn prescribes a wholefood plant based diet (no animal products at all) for optimum health. We’ve been eating this way for more than fifteen years and it works. Another profound benefit is emotional. It feels wonderful to know that your diet is cruelty free, clean and green – good for the planet and the animals we share it with.
Most people eat too much. Many do not even need three meals a day, its just habit. Switching to a plant based diet, ditching processed food, sugar and alcohol you will loose fat, feel better and lighter in body and spirit. See the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine or Animals Australia Vegetarian stater kit or Forks Over Knives for detailed information about why this is the most important choice you can make for yourself (or just take Dr. Glenn's word for it!). Eating less is also a proven strategy for longevity and brain health.
When it comes to exercise – do it together & do it everyday
If you’re saying ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’ll do it when…’ - not good enough. You'll die before you do it, SO GO NOW.
Regular exercise is CRITICAL (yes we're shouting) to your physical and emotional wellbeing. Fitness is a self-reinforcing cycle – the fitter you are the better you feel, the happier you are, and therefore more willing to get out and exercise. Find something you enjoy that gets you moving or just walk everyday, preferably with your partner, a positive supportive friend, or a dog (yours, a neighbour’s or one from a Shelter). If you are walking alone and find it boring practice mindfulness or listen to an audio book. The key is commitment. Make a choice and do it every day for a minimum of three weeks to establish a habit and to notice the positive changes that will keep you motivated to keep going.
Positively challenge yourself, your partner and your relationship
Glenn and I celebrate 21 (happy) years together next month. In wingsuiting, to fly together well we have to know and trust each other, we have to be present, and we have to make fine adjustments to our individual way of going so we can go well together. We also challenge each other to be better pilots. It is the same in everyday life.
Commit. Take Responsibility in the relationship.
Trust and be trustworthy.
Be a collaborator, before an individualist. Put your community of two first.
Do things together or it’s likely you will grow apart.
Challenge and support one another to do new things, break through barriers and to live a more authentic, genuinely loving life. You could sign up for a trek, a marathon, a triathlon, a scuba course, a skydiving course, a rock climbing course, mountain biking, skiing, a canyoning weekend - the possibilities are endless! Challenges you need to train for and then complete together enrich your relationship enormously.
When you're training (and every day) be coach and cheer squad for each other but resist the urge to patronise! Stay positive!
Say ‘I love you’ every day (to yourself as well)
Say ‘Thank you’ every day (to yourself as well)
About the Authors
Dr. Glenn Singleman and Heather Swan are a husband and wife team. As professional adventurers they've set world records and achieved many world firsts. Glenn is also a practicing medical doctor and Heather is a journalist and photographer. She has also studied meditation, nutrition and fitness. You can read more about them here.