Well-Being//

3 Ways to Live a Life of Health and Happiness

True health should never limit the way we live.

Jena Ardell/Getty Images
Jena Ardell/Getty Images

We live in a world of extremes. Especially in the health and wellness world, there’s a tendency for individuals to lean towards bold claims of quick fixes for our life’s problems. From diet trends to fitness plans, these solutions are often built upon the notion that we must follow a defined set of rules to be healthy, productive members of society.

Mainstream culture promotes polarizing diet fads touting silver bullets that don’t exist, often focusing on size and weight as the defining indicator of health. Rigid exercise routines pushing the limits of our bodies, and attempts of ‘having it all’ at work and life leads to more time spent under stress, and less time for sleep and self-care.

With all these dogmatic rules on how we ‘should’ be living, they are, in fact, limiting us from living at all.

We are allowing our fears, insecurities, and a need to have a definitive, one-size-fits-all solution dictate our actions, overshadowing our own ability to listen and trust ourselves. If your healthy lifestyle has become more limiting than it is inspiring, it may be time to reframe your perspective on what true health and happiness is. Let’s seek within, and begin to relearn three areas of life that are often left out of the health equation.

Balance

From our genetics to the external variants that impact our body, health is never that black and white. Yet, especially in nutrition, our society as a whole tends to seek out polarizing trends despite decades of studies showing that an established consensus exists: a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is the key to good health.

The latest diet fads and trends nearly always lean towards either the overconsumption or elimination of specific foods. Yes, being mindful of certain foods and emphasizing others is important for a healthy lifestyle. But eating too much of anything isn’t good for you…and neither is eating too little. Those same principles carry over into how we care for our mental health and emotional wellbeing. If our time and mental space are preoccupied by extreme behaviors, it limits us from being fully present to care for ourselves and our relationship with others. Living in fear and out of touch with what truly nourishes our bodies and minds is no way to live at all.

Compassion

It’s no secret there are social constructs that have warped our view of success as a metric that exists only when compared to others. While we can blame external factors such as media, let’s not overlook something that is deeply rooted: a lack of self-compassion under moments of perceived inadequacy.

Whether it’s an attempt to control your body size or create impossible work-life standards, these thoughts exist as a way to maintain a false sense of control.

It’s in those very moments that we must recognize our struggles are a natural part of our basic human need to strive towards something in life. It’s important to give ourselves grace and the recognition that we’re doing our best, no matter where we’re starting at. We could all use a little more love and kindness in the world these days, let’s start with the compassion we are willing to give to ourselves.

Gratitude

While goal-setting is important, chasing success without keeping life in perspective will ultimately lead to more unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Recognize that your body is gifted with the capability to create energy and positivity in this world. See the beauty that unfolds as you physically adapt over the years, with folds and wrinkles that tell a story of transformation and strength. Only then can you begin to appreciate your body as something that is strong, healthy, and worthy of admiration no matter what it looks like.

We all have this one body and life to live, so let’s appreciate it for all that it is and each day we have in good health. Because that’s really what true health is:

A reflection of the way you care for yourself, and being grateful for each day you have here on this earth.

This article was originally published in WellSeek.

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