I have wanted to write this blog for a VERY long time, but was waiting for just the right time.
And right now. In the world we are living in today. With all that is going on. And how people are acting/reacting to other people. And situations.
Right now is exactly the right time to connect your health with your morality.
Let’s start first with a quick definition of morality because, truth be told, I never really use this word to describe ethics or honesty. I use words like honesty. Decency. Integrity. Principles. Even virtue every now and then, though virtue feels a bit more angelic and a bit less human to me.
Anyway, for purposes of this blog, let’s use morality, but you can feel free to use any of those other words that you like better. I just want you to anchor to the idea of you being a decent person in this world, and what that means to you.
Because being a physically and mentally healthy person impacts your decency.
Back in my corporate days, I saw a lot of things that didn’t quite sit restfully within my own integrity realm. Not from everyone and not pervasively! This is not a judgement on our corporate society.
What I saw was professionals who treated others poorly – mostly because they were either stressed out, burned out, or in some cases, just hungry!
Managers yelling at a person because something had gone wrong – and the manager just didn’t have the time to add another issue to their list. Or a leader who wasn’t sensitive to how his/her words may land on someone because they were too stressed out to take a moment to clear their head before going onstage for a key note speech.
Or a supervisor who had been working straight through the past 8 hours without anything to eat other than coffee and sugar snap at their teammate for taking 5 minutes to go for a quick walk.
For all of you parents out there, I’m sure you can draw parallels to how you might speak to your kids after a particularly stressful, work filled 16 hour day with little nourishment.
Or to your partner.
We’ve all had our moments. I’m not here to diss anyone for having one of ‘those moments’. I’ve had a zillion of them in my lifetime.
My goal is to bring awareness to these moments – before they happen too often. Or grow from small too big. Or wind up hurting someone else. Or impede your ability to make a good decision.
Here in the United States we are gearing up for a presidential election in November. Whatever you believe or whomever you believe, one cannot argue that things have gotten pretty nasty. From name calling to defamation of people’s character to lies, violence and even death.
This is not how human beings should treat each other!
But that subject is too big, too broad and too much for the blog today. But as I wrote a few months ago (Finding Your Voice During Difficult Times), I will add my voice to the mix when things fall into a sphere where I can make a difference.
Because your physical and mental health makes a difference in your conduct.
Let’s start with an easy example. How many people have heard the term Hangry? Hangry is a combination of two words – Hungry and Angry. Believe it or not, hangry is actually defined in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as “Irritable or Angry because of Hunger”.
Rj has a definition of his own for Hangry – he calls this phenomenon “Feed the Bitch time.” The bitch would be me. Because when I’m hangry he becomes the focus of all of my anger. And when I’m angry I am a bitch. And I have no problem at all with this definition because it’s true.
Has anyone seen that commercial by Snickers? “You aren’t yourself, here, have a Snickers bar”. Here’s a link if you haven’t see this video (there are a few different versions, but this is my favorite because of Betty White).
Hunger impacts your emotions. And while many think that hanger can be stopped simply by getting some sugar in their bodies, the impact of hunger on your reactions to people or situations is deeper than that (here is a great article with deeper science on the topic if interested).
We are more likely to hurt other people (physically or mentally) when we are blinded by hanger – and chances are good we may not even realize what we are doing.
While having a Snickers bar isn’t necessarily my recommendation (sorry for those of you who were hoping that was the conclusion), making sure that you are eating some healthy food on a regular basis would certainly cure your hanger episode.
Protein keeps you feeling fuller longer – so try some sliced up chicken, or a boiled egg, or some greek yogurt, hummus, peanut butter (careful on that one….it’s very easy to overeat peanut butter, I know from experience, it’s just so good!). All these recommendations are easy to have accessible, grab in less than 3 minutes, and eat at your desk or in the car if necessary.
These health tips comes to you not to make you thinner or improve your overall body health and composition (though those will be nice related outcomes). No – these health tips are to manage your mood. And keep you gentle. And decent. And thoughtful of others around you.
Let’s talk about deep breathing.
I used to work for a gentleman who had the ’24 hour’ law. You all know some variation off this law. You are busy busy busy. You may have had a crappy day. You get an email (or a text or message or whatever) that sets your teeth on edge. No no no!! Whomever is contacting you has accused you of something you didn’t do, slandered your name, did something that just really annoyed you or something related to any of the above. And yes, they copied everyone and their grandmother on said email/text/message/whatever.
You know what you do, right? You drop everything and trip over your fingers as you type some nasty response. You just can’t get enough words written during this harried few minutes. Slam slam slam go your fingers on the keys. *#&! *#&! *#&! goes your mouth at the top of your lungs. And you hit send. And everyone is now witness to your rampage.
And then you realize you should have taken a deep breath before responding.
Taking a moment (or 24 hours) for a deep breath moves you from reaction to proaction. Allows you to constructively respond to the situation. Encourages you to stop, think, absorb, consider and calm down.
Deep breathing, in my opinion, could save us all from many an indecent situation.
Taking a deep breath (or breaths) invokes the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the nervous system that calms your body down (vs. the sympathetic nervous system which is your ‘fight or flight’ reactor).
Think for a moment about your actions/reactions and interactions with people when you are calm vs. when you are fighting or flighting. Can you see yourself tending toward being nicer? More gentle? Thoughtful? Overall more of a decent person when calm?
All it takes is a deep breath (and maybe a few hours) to check yourself – and potentially avoid a situation where you inadvertently hurt someone else.
I believe that this world can be a happier, more loving, more inclusive, decent integrity filled world anchored to principles of treating people with respect regardless of background, viewpoint or ‘side’.
This belief is why I quit my corporate job and started my own Executive Health and Leadership Coaching business.
Because I believe that if we are all a bit healthier, we will all be a bit more decent as well.
In the words of my girl crush right now (and serious healthy person), “When they go low, we go high.” Next time you feel like you want to go low, eat something healthy and take a deep breath, and watch yourself go high instead.