This article will go into the fundamental form of wealth: health. Yes, your health is wealth; it is the basis for all other forms of wealth. It is priceless. With good health, you can achieve anything you set out to do. Without good health, nothing you achieve will bring you any lasting enjoyment.
This article will argue that by cultivating health you directly cultivate material wealth. I will talk about the relationship between health and achievement. I will talk about my personal journey to better health. And I will address simple steps anyone can take to improve their health today. And I do mean anyone.
So read on if this seems interesting to you.
Health – What Is It?
First off, we need to establish a definition of health. What is “health”? Webster’s dictionary defines health as “The condition of being sound in mind, body or spirit.” Cool. But what is “soundness”, then? My own definition of “soundness” is “An organism’s capability to respond effectively to the environment.”
As a living organism, you are sound when you can face and solve the challenges presented to you by your environment; like hunger, thirst, temperature swings and cunning predators. A living being which is “sound” will be able to encounter these challenges and act to resolve them and thus continue on living and reproducing. A living being which isn’t sound will not.
Thus, health is our capacity to respond to environmental challenges. The healthier we are the more effective our response to the environment will be.
Health is our capacity to live.
Sounds pretty important, huh? That’s because it is!
Health Is The Crown The Unhealthy See
Health is wealth. It is a primary, non-transferable, immaterial form of wealth. In other words, health is spiritual wealth (you can read about the two primary types of wealth in the article “Two Different Types Of Wealth?”). Another of the characteristics of spiritual wealth is that it’s primary, fundamental; all material wealth stems from spiritual wealth.
If you’re healthy, you can weather any challenge that life throws at you. For example, a person who is healthy in mind, body and spirit can lose their job and rely on himself or herself to pick themselves back up. What if the person can’t find a job in their career? It doesn’t matter. A healthy person can work a job which pays the bills while learning other fields, developing other forms of knowledge and setting off in a new direction. In this way, a healthy person who loses their job not only remains stable, but actually grows from the process. A healthy person embraces the insecurity of life, because they are secure with themselves.
Compare this to an unhealthy person. You can be the materially wealthiest person in the world, but if you’re unhealthy, no amount of money or property will be able to assuage the suffering of living. How many stories haven’t we heard of successful business owners running their bodies into the ground with their work habits and then falling prey to (sometimes dying from) some stress-induced illness? These people dedicate their lives to building castles in the sky, which all come crashing down the moment their poor choices catch up to them. But no amount of money can buy good health. Health is earned.
When we’re healthy, we’re secure. The origin of the word “secure” is from the Latin “securus”, meaning “Without care, dreading no evil.” This means security is an internal state; it arises within us as a fruit of our choices. Yet most of us conflate security with exterior states; possessions, jobs, social status, etc, yet these things are without us, and thus entirely out of our control. Attaching our security to exterior states is like embarking on an ocean voyage hoping that the weather will always favor us. It’s foolish, it leads to anxiety and leaked power.
Being secure means being confident in your soundness to respond to environmental challenges. And being healthy means being sound. The healthier you are, the sounder you are, and thus the more secure in life. For example…
It has long been known that healthy children are better at learning and are more creative. Children from high-income families are more likely to receive better nutrition and healthcare. This translates into higher academic achievement, which leads to more wealth. It’s true that it’s the material wealth of parents which allows these children to be healthy and thus enables them to learn more and be more creative, but here’s the thing…
We all have free will. We all have the ability to choose how we respond to our environment. No matter where we are or where we come from, we all have the power to make healthier choices for ourselves.
I find that awesome, don’t you? Because this means that you can be the wealthiest or poorest person in the world and still be able to make choices which improve your health. We are always capable of improving. Like the saying goes, “Life is less about what happens to us and more about how we respond to it.”
This means we can be in the sorriest, poorest, dirtiest, lowest, most miserable position in life and still have the power to make tomorrow better than today, by choosing better, now. Better won’t happen overnight, it takes time and energy to improve our life circumstances (be they health, wealth, education, etc), but starting to make those choices now means we begin moving in the right direction for us.
When we wake up to this awesome power, everything changes. Life becomes an adventure to see where our choices can take us.
The Power Of Choosing Health – A Personal Story
I wasn’t an active child. I grew up playing video games and not eating too much. I was skinny and weak until college, when I fell in with a group of athletes who taught me to train my body. But then during and after college I took up drinking. I would drink heavily two sometimes three nights a week. It was tons of fun at the time, but I wasn’t aware of the damage I was doing to myself with each of my choices. The hangover the morning after a night of heavy drinking should have been enough to warn me about how I was hurting myself, but I didn’t listen to my body’s messages. I kept drinking throughout my twenties.
Then, after college, I took up smoking cannabis. Again, it was fun at the time, in fact, I learned a lot about myself during my weed-smoking sessions. Smoking cannabis after work was my primary means of relaxation. I would get home, smoke up and listen to music or watch TV shows. It was awesome at the time, cannabis opened up my doors of perception and showed me a different side of myself. That was valuable. But at the same time I became dependent on the feeling I got from smoking cannabis. I surrendered some of my security to cannabis, an external substance. I smoked regularly for a few years.
Then something happened in my life. The consequences of my unhealthy, ignorant choices piled up and climaxed in an explosive reckoning with myself. My life fell apart. I fell, deep. Only once I had hit bottom did I start questioning the direction my life was going in. Which means I began questioning my values. Our values (or beliefs) are the maps we follow in life. If we want to know where we’re heading all we need to do reflect on our values.
And how to we reflect on our values? It’s super simple. We look at our choices. We look at what we do with our time. We look at our habits.
Our choices make us. We are where we are because of our choices. Nothing more, nothing less.
My “falling apart” happened four years ago. I touched bottom three years ago. Things have improved tremendously since. Since then, more and more of my choices are leading me to greater and greater states of wealth and security, which had previously been unknown to me. It has all been thanks to self-reflection. Rigorous analysis of values, choices and habits is what allows us to improve upon ourselves. It’s not about the mistakes we make, it’s about what we learn from each mistake. When we learn from a mistake it turns into a lesson.
And lessons are priceless. Life is the greatest teacher. Not school, not university, not work, it’s life. That’s great, because life is always happening, which means we can always learn from it.
What Life Taught Me About Health
Shortly after I started reflecting on my choices I began reducing the amount of alcohol I consumed. I didn’t cut it out of my life entirely. Alcohol is poison, and a deep part of me knew that the less I drank the healthier I was, and the more I self-reflected, the more I listened to that part of myself. Over the course of a few years I went from being a heavy weekend drinker, to being an occasional heavy weekend drinker, to being a relaxed weekend drinker, to not drinking.
I finally stopped drinking because, one day, I watched a video of Brian Rose on YouTube in which he talked about not drinking any more and loving it. I decided to give it a shot. I was drinking little at that point, so it was a small step for me to take.
But What A Difference It Made.
Here are the most powerful changes I noticed:
- My mind became clearer. After a month of not drinking I noticed a massive change in my peace of mind. My mind calmed down and became more manageable. Instead of being a wild elephant I felt I had to tame, it became docile and more ready to be led where I wanted it to go. This was priceless.
- My senses became sharper. It was like the resolution of life was turned up. Way up. Colors became brighter, sounds clearer, tastes sharper and touch finer. My mind and body became sensitized to the unique texture of each moment, it was like my senses received an upgrade. They became tuned to the granularity of life.
- My inner-child returned. I drank from the time I was 19 until I was 29. Most of my recreation in adulthood was spent drinking. I don’t believe it was chance that from 19 to 27 (the time I drank heavily), I felt disconnected from my childhood dreams. I was lost, spiritually and professionally. And as I returned to myself, connected deeply with who I was, that inner child (who remains in all of us) began to shine through more and more, guiding me towards what I really wanted, rather than what I had been dulled into wanting.
Giving up drinking allowed my body, mind and spirit to return to their original state. A state of abundant health and boundless energy and vitality. When I stopped drinking, I sent the message to my system that it could heal, it could recover, I was done filling it with poison.
Basically, I got out of my own way. I stopped making choices which hurt me (drinking) and then my body’s natural ability to thrive took over.
I’ve never looked back. I don’t intend to ever drink again.
Giving up drinking was the most powerful choice I have made in terms of giving up a substance which hurt me. But it wasn’t the only pro-health choice I’ve made over the years. Others are:
- Gave up eating meat
- Stopped smoking cannabis
- Started moving more
- Stopped watching so much television
- Started forgiving myself (and others) more
- Reduced sugar intake
And other choices. Everything we consume changes our state of health. EVERYTHING. Be it substances, media or relationships, everything we let into our bodies and mind influences our health for better or worse (I will write an article about this). Every choice, no matter how small, matters. Over time, every little choice adds up into something huge. That “something” is your life.
We can choose what we let into our lives. We have that power, because we are human beings.
The healthier our choices the more powerful we become. And the more powerful we are the more effective we are at serving others. And the more we serve the more meaning we find.
I’ll end this article with a few questions.
- What choices do you make which compromise your health?
- What choices do you make which fortify your health?
- What can you choose to do today which will improve your health?
- What really matters to you in life?
I invite you to reflect on these questions, leave a comment if you like. In reflection lies health.
To your wealth and success.