Through right thinking, positive emotions, deliberate actions, and healthy habits, optimal well-being is more than just a hopeit is an exciting reality for anyone who is willing to make it happen.
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About the Author
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Find your purpose
Unless we identify our purpose and stay deliberately focused on it every day, the negative forces of life will take hold and push us down a path we don't want to go, but one we will eventually accept.
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Imagine receiving 1,000 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in a plastic bag: no box, and no picture of what the puzzle is meant to create. How would you go? There may be a marginal chance you could put it together but, if you are anything like me, you'd give up way before that could be a possibility. Honestly, without a clear picture the task of putting together a large jigsaw puzzle is almost a futile one – just as success in life and optimal well-being will be pointless without a clear picture of what you're working towards. You must have a clear and powerful purpose in life.
My tertiary education was something I had to do. At the time I was told I needed to make a decision about the path my career and life would take; I was a clueless 16 year old who could only see, think about and dream of a successful professional football career. When my parents told me to choose a course, they suggested a commerce, science or economics degree in order for me to keep my options open. My response was: 'Why would I want to do that? I'm going to be a professional footballer.' While I did eventually agree I should get a tertiary education, I didn't over-think it and I chose physical education. Why? Because it sounded like the closest thing to sport to me.
After somehow successfully fumbling my way through this four-year degree I accidentally became a school teacher. Why accidentally? Because when I chose the degree, so indifferent was I about it I didn't even know it was a teaching degree until the third year when I was told to arrange teaching rounds. So, at the age of 22 I started teaching physical education and mathematics to teenagers. It wasn't a passion, it wasn't my purpose and it certainly wasn't fun. In fact, it was simply something I had to do to earn money.
When my alarm went off, all I felt was anxiety. I would hit the snooze button as often as possible until I had no other choice but to drag myself out of bed and transition out of my dream time into my nightmare. I just didn't enjoy teaching teenagers who were there because they had to be, not because they wanted to be. I hated trying to force them to listen to me. I despised the discipline side of the job. I just felt sick to my stomach from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. I was thinking, 'This can't be good for me.'
I became a cranky and impatient person and often not fun to be around. Up until that time I had been a fun-loving, even slightly crazy kid, but I had changed. This job I was forcing myself to endure was changing my personality, and not for the better. I was drinking more than I should have because I needed to do something to dull the pain. I was eating poorly and my motivation to exercise just wasn't there any more. My energy levels were non-existent and my health was suffering. I had no passion and no purpose.
It finally got to the point where I could no longer force myself to accept this stressful scenario. I didn't enjoy my life, I didn't like the person I had become, and I certainly wasn't excited about my underwhelming income. I decided to quit teaching and move into the health and fitness industry.
I had dabbled over the previous year or so and worked a couple of evenings per week, after my teaching day was complete, in a gym. I really enjoyed it, so I thought this was the answer to my full-time career puzzle. I was wrong! I resigned from my teaching job and started working full time in the gym, where I lasted less than six months. I loved the job, but I couldn't relate to my boss. He was negative and critical, he was a bully and, to me, he was toxic!
I started to experience the same feelings of anxiety I had as a teacher. What was even worse was that I had taken a pay cut and so, in addition to having to endure a bully for a boss, I was now making even less money. This was another source of my stress. It didn't take me long to learn the lesson this time, and I discovered something about myself: I will not accept doing something I do not love. This boss made a critical and sarcastic comment to me one day that was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was the last insult I was prepared to take from him. I walked up to him, removed my staff shirt, handed it to him and told him exactly what he could do with his job!
I drove away that day feeling cold with no top on and uncertain about my next step, but relieved to be free from that toxic and unhealthy environment. I was excited about what my next step might be, and with that I made a few calls and soon I had another job in another gym. Not long after that I launched my personal training career.
Here is absolute evidence of the power of passion and a purpose. I went from working 8 am to 4 pm with 12 weeks per year paid holidays as a teacher, which was stressful and crappy, to working 5 am to 9 pm with no paid holidays as a personal trainer and I loved it! I bounced out of bed at 5 am, then powered through the day until 9 pm and I could have kept going. Passion gave me energy to burn. My purpose was to help people create positive change with their health and well-being. I had found my place, I had discovered my passion and I was living my purpose ... or so I thought.
What I love most about life is that it's always providing lessons. There are times it even contradicts centuries of so-called wisdom. It has been said, and often credited to Confucius although unsubstantiated, that if you 'do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life'. This needs to have one small disclaimer added: 'unless you're doing it for money'. I can tell you that for the first few years of my personal training career I agreed with the statement: I truly loved it and thought I could do it forever.
However, after 15 years of getting up at 5 am and working 12 to 15 hours per day, six and sometimes seven days per week, things changed. What started out as a passion and purpose was, over time, reduced to a painful chore that had to be done to earn an income to pay for a lifestyle I had become accustomed to. Every dollar I earned was reliant on me getting up and being at work whether I felt like it or not, was healthy or not, enjoyed it or not. If I chose not to work or I couldn't work, I did not make one dollar.
I felt that stress and anxiety returning. I dreaded going to bed at night because I knew that in just a few short hours I would be forced to get up again to put up with many stinky and complaining clients whom I had to painfully convince to do things to look after their own well-being. I have to say here, just in case an ex-client of mine is reading this, I had many clients I loved training; they were committed to their own health and wellbeing and were a pleasure to work with. These people were just few and far between.
The biggest problem I was facing was that I was not looking after my own well-being. I was tired, run down, stressed, over-training and eating poorly and I'd lost my vision and purpose. I could see no light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. My attitude started to disintegrate and, again, I knew things had to change. But how?
I was doing what I knew to do: work hard. I had been taught my whole life that if I worked hard everything would be okay. That's just another piece of faulty wisdom, so I started learning and challenging myself to find the answers. I knew I needed to change my approach to health and fitness, so I studied nutrition and learned all I could. I knew I needed to improve my financial literacy so I read a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki that changed my whole paradigm about making money.
I got inspired about good nutrition and made one of the most illogical decisions I had ever made, and I've made a few! I thought that if I bought a café and provided healthy food, inspiring information and convenience to the people it might change my situation. Again, I was wrong. I did purchase a café and, in addition to my personal training business, I ended up working even harder. I worked 12 to 15 hours per day, now seven days per week, to find myself two years later nearly $100,000 in debt!
Okay, that didn't work, so what's next? You see, I was always looking to live a life of passion and purpose. I was always looking for the next thing and deep down I knew that all the decisions I'd made and the lessons I'd learned were just leading me to the point where I would find my true purpose. Finally, I was right! At this time in my career I made probably the most illogical decision I have ever made, but it somehow turned out to be the right one.
It was certainly not a sensible decision; it was definitely not based on any logical analysis and, considering my life at that time, it was totally unreasonable. However, I went with my intuition anyway and I decided to write a book! Who knew that being an author, sharing my knowledge and helping other people write books and chase unlikely success would be the purpose I was looking for? Who could have believed that this was what would feed me and fuel me to bounce out of bed and power through the day with passion?
I published my first book in 2004 and writing books continues to inspire and excite me every day. I'm more focused than ever, more excited than ever and more deliberate about my life than ever before. I'm healthier than I've ever been. I have no stress, only passion and purpose. At 54 years young I'm leaner, fitter and happier than I've ever been. I exercise six days per week, I eat well, I sleep like a champion and I make great decisions because my vision is to be writing books, travelling the world with my wife Laura and inspiring others to chase their dreams until I'm well over 100 years old. I can't do any of that without taking care of my well-being, today.
That's the power of purpose and passion. It's the most important piece in this wellness puzzle because it gives inspiration to make all the other pieces work. When we find our passion and purpose, when we're excited about life and we want to live every second of life, we immediately stop negotiating the price for better health. When we find our reason 'why' we stop debating, putting off and procrastinating. Instead, we just automatically do what we need to do to be optimally healthy, and we do it so we can continue to live our long, happy, successful and purpose-driven life.
I'm currently reading a book called The Answer: How to discover what you want from life then make it happen by Allan and Barbara Pease. The book talks a lot about your reticular activating system. In an ex-footballer's layman terms, it means that once you give your attention to something you will attract more of the same. So, get this: I'm obviously writing this chapter about purpose and goals in life and, magically, as I'm reading this particular book, I get to a part titled 'Clearly defined goals and life expectancy'. As I read it, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt it needs to be shared here.
The authors discuss the work of Patrick Hill, from Carleton University in Canada, and Nicholas Turiano, from the University of Rochester Medical Center. They analysed data from 6,000 participants who were part of the 'Midlife in the United States' study that followed the lives of the subjects for 14 years. They focused on the participants' goals in life and their sense of purpose.
During the follow-up period, 569 of the participants had died. It was found and reported by Hill and Turiano that those who died had fewer goals – if any – and a lower purpose in life than those who were still living. Overall, individuals who declared having goals and a greater purpose in life had a significantly lower mortality risk. This was true across all age groups.
The findings of the researchers show that having a direction in life and setting clear goals for what you want to achieve helps you live longer. The earlier you start this process, if you haven't already, of finding your purpose and setting goals in life, the earlier these protective and preventative effects will happen.
On the flip side, cardiologist, author and founder of Revitalize-U, Dr Cynthia Thaik, talks about how negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, bitterness and hatred can have a devastating impact on the immune system. She talks about research that shows even one five-minute episode of negative emotion is so stressful that it can impair the immune system for more than six hours. Yikes! I can only wonder what sort of damage I did to my immune system in those years when I was not on purpose and just tolerating stressful situations.
In another study in 2003, Dr Richard Davidson and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison investigated the impact of emotions on flu risk. They asked 52 participants to recall the best and the worst times of their lives while having a brain scan. Next, the volunteers were given a flu vaccine and had their flu antibody levels measured six months later. Those who experienced particularly intense negative emotions (according to their brain activity) had fewer antibodies. In fact, the subjects who felt the worst made 50 per cent fewer antibodies than those who were less upset by their painful memories.
There are even studies that support the idea our emotional state will significantly impact the condition, strength and health of our DNA. Yes, this means that while we may be genetically predisposed to certain conditions because of family history, we can change our DNA. In other words, we can change our genetic stars!
Stem cell biologist and best-selling author Bruce Lipton, PhD says: 'When we have negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and dislike or hate, or think negative thoughts such as "I hate school", "I don't like so and so" or "Who does he/she think he is?", we experience stress and our energy reserves are redirected.' This causes a portion of our energy reserves that otherwise would be put to work maintaining, repairing and regenerating our complex biological systems to instead confront the stresses these negative thoughts and feelings create.
'In contrast,' he continues, 'when we activate the power of our heart's commitment and intentionally have sincere feelings such as appreciation, care and love, we allow our heart's electrical energy to work for us. Consciously choosing a core heart feeling over a negative one means instead of the drain and damage stress causes to our bodies' systems, we are renewed mentally, physically and emotionally. The more we do this the better we're able to ward off stress and energy drains in the future. Heartfelt positive feelings fortify our energy systems and nourish the body at the cellular level.' In simple terms most people can relate to, what this means is that when we are having a bad day, going through a rough period such as dealing with the sickness of a loved one or coping with financial troubles, we can actually influence our bodies – all the way down to the cellular level – by intentionally thinking positive thoughts and focusing on positive emotions.
Researchers have gone so far as to show that physical aspects of DNA strands could be influenced by human intention. The article 'Modulation of DNA Conformation by Heart-focused Intention' (McCraty, Atkinson & Tomasino, Institute of HeartMath, 2003) describes experiments that achieved such results. For example, an individual holding three DNA samples was directed to generate heart coherence – a beneficial state of mental, emotional and physical balance and harmony – with the aid of a technique that utilises heart breathing and intentional positive emotions.
The individual succeeded, as instructed, to intentionally and simultaneously unwind two of the DNA samples to different extents and leave the third unchanged. 'The results provide experimental evidence to support the hypothesis that aspects of the DNA molecule can be altered through intentionality,' the researchers state. 'The data indicates that when individuals are in a heart-focused, loving state and in a more coherent mode of physiological functioning, they have a greater ability to alter the conformation of DNA. Individuals capable of generating high ratios of heart coherence were able to alter DNA conformation according to their intention. Control group participants showed low ratios of heart coherence and were unable to intentionally alter the conformation of DNA.'
I have one other story I want to share with you to add more evidence to this research and to illustrate this powerful piece of the wellness puzzle. This story is about my hero and the person who has inspired me the most, my mother, Sue.
I'm not going to tell her whole story because it's available for you to read in my book about Sue's journey. What I do want to tell you is that she, like many people, had a challenging upbringing. Sue was born in 1935 in a communist Eastern European country and had a Jewish heritage. This was just four years before the outbreak of the Second World War and the horrendous Nazi regime. Need I say more?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Wellness Puzzle"
Copyright © 2019 Andrew Jobling.
Excerpted by permission of Rockpool Publishing Pty Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Earning the right: why would you listen to me?,
A body out of balance,
An evolution of wisdom,
Putting together a puzzle,
1. Find your purpose,
2. Protect your mental and emotional spaces,
3. Breathe easy,
4. Something is in the water,
5. The power of whole food,
Get the metabolic fire burning,
Cellular health: protect your unit of life,
Go with your gut,
Let food be thy medicine,
Nature provides everything we need,
All food is good!,
6. Have faith in what you cannot see,
7. Move your body,
One step at a time,
Stepping it up,
Getting the complete picture,
About the author,