After attaining a milestone birthday (60), I reflected on what’s working and what’s not in my life.
It turns out I’m grateful the ledger is largely positive, as I’m healthy, physically fit and financially secure. Clearly luck and good genes have played roles. However, I’ve done a number of things over almost four decades that, when taken together, have made for a healthy happier, and even more intentional life.
Although these are hardly new ideas, it may be helpful to offer some perspective about having overcome my biases to arrive at what we recognize today as a healthy lifestyle.
When I observed a friend in college return for his junior year as a much calmer, focused and successful student, I wanted to know his “summer secret.” He confided that he had learned Transcendental Meditation, or TM, as it’s more commonly known. I thought it was something only gu ys in robes did in monasteries. Based on my friend’s success, however, I decided to try it. It has worked for me also, for nearly 40 years. I credit my calm, lowered stress levels even in the midst of stressful events, better decision making, and a good chunk of my creativity boost over these decades to TM. I do 60 minutes/three times a week, which meshes well with my current schedule. Warning: it takes about three weeks to get the benefits, so hang in there if you choose to give it a try.
I started 10 year s ago with a hot yoga practice that makes it easier to stretch without injury. I encountered folks of all ages in the class, along with some professional athletes. I have discovered that years of yoga have enhanced my roller blading, running, swimming and hiking.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Yes, I have eaten a healthy diet over the past decades. I had presumed folks were overreacting about the negative impact of too much red meat and the impact of pesticides on our food. After having read the China Study some years ago, I decided not to take any chances. Besides, I experienced an uncomfortable bloated feeling when eating meat.
I avoided going to therapy until I was age 38, because I thought that’s what only really messed up people do. I finally gave in, however, when I had an unresolved problem in my personal life at the intersection of love and intimacy. I decided that I needed professional help. Therapy worked, an d as an added bonus I learned about a methodology that laid the transformative foundation for a completely different way of thinking about my personal and work lives.
My “Better Half.”
I discovered that the right side of my brain is now my “better half,” as it’s where creativity, intuition, artistry, musical and problem-solving functions reside. I had discovered this Nobel Prize-winning research in the course of therapy, then applied the findings of research and personal interviews of 200 participants 10 years later into a creative problem-solving business technique. A result was my book, “Thought Revolution,” an updated version of which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014. Along the way, I overcame my earlier belief that some people are born creative and the rest of us are just lucky.
Heretofore considered by me as a myth, I was never fortunate enough to have both in balance at the same time during my career. Later on, however, I got the big opportunity to lead my company through and IPO. It took 20 years of hard yet incredibly rewarding work. Absent this experience, I would have missed the opportunity to check the self-actualizing work/life box. I had put my head down, knowing that I would in time achieve the financial freedom to re-balance and enjoy my “retirement.”
Indulging my curiosity not only has been fun, but it’s also been good for my soul as well. My personal favorite activity of late has been travel. I have been able to satisfy a bucket list of possibilities throughout the world, beginning with those places that were the most interesting and farthest away–just in case my body were to give out later in life. This strategy has worked, as I’ve been to all my top tier destinations, moving down the list now with a least one big trip per year. As my grandfather used to say, “Half the joy in a is the anticipation of it.”
That’s it, folks. All the above components have worked for me. And they can work for you as well, if you but work to attain and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
William A. Donius is the author of New York Times bestseller, Thought Revolution: How to Unlock Your Inner Genius, published by Simon & Schuster. Donius teaches his creative thinking methodology and facilitates Ideation Sessions for both global clients as well as non-profits.