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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.

February 4, 2024 | Max Jenkinson

4 Harsh Truths To Make You Healthy

You suck. I suck. Everyone fucking sucks. No one knows what’s going on. “Nothing matters” you might say. I say fuck no, EVERYTHING MATTERS.

If your health is as good as you know it could be feel free to stop reading. Enjoy your day, you made it. You achieved what the rest of us so desperately want. I might need to ask you for some advice. Anyway, here’s a picture of me with a beard.

My attempt to look like a Viking

4. You Are Not Okay The Way You Are

When I was eight I got a framed picture from my teacher with a written note saying, “Always remember, you are okay just the way you are”.

This is probably the worst gift a child can get. Let me explain.

Every child knows they are on a path toward adulthood. A journey of progress of sorts. In size, knowledge, skill and competency.

The understanding that we are not what we could be is innate and will never leave us for as long as we are alive. It is a part of being human.

To a child the idea that they are okay the way they are is confusing. If I’m okay the way I am then everything bad that I feel must be at the fault of the outside world. After all, I am okay the way I am.

The responsibility for my well-being, my feelings and my life is outsourced to the external world. Nothing is my fault.

So here is my terrible truth: thinking the world should cater to you and your feelings will leave you hopeless, pessimistic and under-prepared.

We are not these happy beings living in a utopia where all our needs are met. We are animals that fight. We fight for our survival, we fight for our health, and we fight for our happiness. Struggle is what defines our species.

Either you will go about life assuming all of its faults are because the world is hard and unfair or you will accept the world’s limitations and make yourself better. You will be unhealthy, unhappy and poor.

If you don’t change, what makes you assume the world around you will? Your life is a reflection of you. Make yourself better and your life will too.

What about self-acceptance — isn’t that a good thing? Of course. As long as it is a result of your progress. As you’ll come to understand…

3. Happiness Is A Skill

There’s a book written by holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl that completely changed my view on happiness. During his time in the concentration camps, he came to some deep realizations about the human condition. The deepest was the one thing others can not take from you, your attitude.

Or as he more eloquently put it:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search For Meaning

His book is horrible and terrifying yet profound. It forces us to reconsider how we view our well-being, in other words, happiness. Happiness is not quite the right word. I’d go with something closer to a sense of deep meaning or the Greek word for human flourishing Eudaimonia.

That book changed my life. From that point forward I’d go on to read everything about attitude change and happiness. The two areas or fields that stood out to me were Stoicsm and positive psychology.

Something the old Greeks knew well positive psychology proved two millennia later. Only 10% of our happiness is dependent on our life circumstances. This of course means 90% is up to us. Today it is truer than ever. With effort, anyone could drastically change their happiness level.

For us to be happier we need to change, not the world around us. You can use the external world to foster change but, if it does not change you internally nothing (almost) will change.

If you keep believing the lie that you are okay the way you are you won’t take the necessary steps to become as happy as you could be. You will keep on justifying how you feel using your circumstances. “I’m not as good-looking as them. I am not as rich as he is. I am not as smart as her.”

Once you accept this uncomfortable truth you start to change who you are. Because why would you be a person that is not happy if you could be happy? You change the things you can. If you can’t change something you change your attitude.

Happiness is a skill. It is something you develop with effort, not something you achieve. Meditations, thinking, journaling, reading, smiling. Do anything you can to incrementally change your internal landscape — so that one day you look out at the world (whatever world that is) with awe and gratitude.

If you had a problem and you knew that 90% of the problem stemmed from one thing and only 10% from another. Why would you focus on the 10% and not the 90%? I also guarantee that your life (10%) would be better if you were happier.

2. In a Sick Society, You Must Go Against It To Be Healthy

To be happy you need to change yourself, not your life. In a society where normal is unhealthy and unhappy, we need to be weird to be happy and healthy.

Weird is a weird word. It has its roots in mythological goddesses of destiny; those in control of our fate. In Old English, the word meant “having power to control fate” and was used to describe those who went their own unique way.

I’ve always liked the word weird. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the word’s history that it made sense to me. Today I pride myself on being weird. If what is normal is bad do what is weird. Be weird if it makes you happier. Be weird if it makes you healthier.

Being normal when more than half of adults are chronically sick is not a good strategy. Every tenth person in the UK is taking antidepressants prescribed to those suffering from severe depression. And that’s is only the ones actively seeking medical help.

These numbers should scare you. You should want to do something about it. Because if you don’t you’ll be one of them sooner or later. Change is hard. Before changing we first need to understand how to change.

1. You Are Unhealthy Because You Don’t Like Yourself

The study of behavioural change has forced us to face some nasty truths about ourselves. But it has also given us tools to become something we’d rather be.

We live in a way that justifies who we believe we are. And, it makes sense. If we didn’t we’d go insane. Imagine waking up each day talking and laughing completely differently. With a different accent, a different way you walk, a different style of clothes. How would you know how to act if you had no sense of who you were?

Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself (By Joe Dispenza) is still one of my favourite book titles. In one short title, it tells us that who we are is completely dependent on what we do, and our habits. It also hints that we have to break a habit to become something or someone else.

What James Clear (of Atomic Habits fame) and so many others have concluded is that behavioural change starts with an identity change. Again, we act in a way that proves to us that we are the people we think that we are. If we could change who we think we are we almost automatically change what we do.

The reason you are unhealthy, or at least not as healthy as you want to be, is that you don’t believe you are the type of person who is that healthy. We all have habits that keep us from becoming what we want. The way to stop them is to change your beliefs about yourself.

Do you smoke and want to quit? Stop identifying as a smoker who wants to quit and instead identify as someone who doesn’t smoke at all.

If you believed you were beautiful, strong, healthy, wise, smart, and good, you would act in a way that proves to you that you are what you believe. And I don’t mean in a delusional way, I mean in the most real way possible. You would act like the person you want to become. Then time would be the only thing between what you are today and your potential.

If you don’t change your belief about yourself you will wake up in 20 years being the same person you were. But instead in an older, sicker body, and in a different circumstance.

If a man looks at the world when he is 50 the same way he looked at it when he was 20 and it hasn’t changed, then he has wasted 30 years of his life.

Mohammed Ali

Do not waste 30 years.

Bonus: Everything Is Built On Top Of Good Physical Health

You’ve now read until this point. You accept that change is a positive part of the human experience and that it is required to be happier and healthier.

Happiness is a skill. It is something you develop with effort, not something you achieve. It is a skill worth acquiring. To acquire it we need to change who we are. We do this by changing what we do but mainly by changing who we believe we are.

Going against the grain is not something you should do as a revolt against society. It is something you should do because it is the only way out of misery. Being weird is good when being normal is not. Take fate into your own hands and walk your path.

Before you walk you need to understand something first: Well-being is a house of cards built on a surface of physical health, without a surface no house can ever be built.

The philosophical schools of ancient Greece were trying to bring their students to peak physical health. The goal of this was to allow the connection with what was transcendent. They believed it was not possible without a supremely healthy body and mind.

We are slowly coming to a similar conclusion. Edaimonia or human flourishing is not possible without ridicolous good health. Because of this I always recommend starting your journey with a priority toward physical health.

If you want to read more about why I believe this read my post The Domino Effect: Why Physical Health Must Come First.

Change is hard but you have nothing to lose. If you aim at something better there’s no chance you’ll be worse off. If you don’t aim at all there is a large chance you will. Give homage to the Greeks and become a modern-day philosopher. A philosopher of action, action toward what is good.

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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.