Each of these categories offers celebrity endorsements and books/articles of conviction. We get swayed into one paradigm or the other- due in part to marketing campaigns. The propensity of our individual character wants to rely exclusively on one or the other (depending on your need to control or be passive) causing fixations and ocd behavior to be “right.”.Disorders stem from this type of imbalance, as do other forms of dis-ease. I mention the types below as more extreme scenarios to make a point. Each area is important, but cannot stand alone for optimal health.
1) You Are What You Eat – Food & exercise generally get the most attention in our appearance-obsessed world. Some believe that all health revolves around the physical body – what you put in, you’ll get out. It’s true that food and exercise can shape the health of the body and even affect mental well-being, but to ignore the other vital elements of well-being is a mistake. The extremists of “You Are What You Eat” use food/exercise as a means to control their environment, attempt to regulate suppressed addictions or anxieties and/or need an immediate sense of self-gratification. Diet restrictions, over-supplementation or obsessive exercise can become a mask for imbalances within. It becomes an attempt to cure all that ails you – be it emotional, mental, physical or spiritual. (This can include micro-managing calories/fats/carbs, happy pills (however natural), extreme food restrictions etc).
2) Mind Over Matter – This school of thought claims that you are what you think- that your mind has the power to make you well, happy and even defeat the affects of unhealthy food, negative emotions or toxic environments. Mind Over Matter claims big ‘secrets’ to a happy and healthy life, many of which are true, but again, a large disclaimer that cannot hold up to some of life’s toughest questions. Positive thinking does affect your world, and honestly it is critical to health, but to attempt to think yourself “well” without relying on other disciplines could lead to many a disorder – essentially a self-inflated mentality that what, avoids death & plays God? Norman Cousins may have laughed himself to eternity, but he’s not living to tell us about it now. The ‘secret’ is to know that you have control of your mind, not the other way around, and that positive thinking and a great attitude can influence your experience in this world.
3) Spiritual Specialists– There are many people of faith that rely on their spiritual practice, God or a belief system to carry them from illness to health, poverty to wealth or other drastic accomplishments without acceptance of their input or other worldly affairs. You might find one of these types escaping from the ‘real world’ to dwell on a mountain top, or a parent declining medication for their child but opting for prayer and faith-healing instead. I’m not discounting spiritual practices – my faith is a large part of my life and I know that prayers and meditation make a huge difference. But, without a pro-activity in the other categories (eating well, exercise, positive thinking, helping others) one runs the risk of becoming an uber-radical extremist – making choices that are unhealthy or unwise. We’ve read these stories.
I believe the key to healthy, vibrant living lies in balance of body, mind & spirit. It is the combination that propels the life-force within. It means acknowledging death as life and finding your purpose. Resolving feelings and thinking positively improves your wellness. Eating organic saves our land and improves our body systems. Praying to your Creator opens your heart and soul. Exercising will make you feel great and can enhance time with your children. Peace comes from sharing. Give energy to the mind, body & spirit equally for sustained health. This may or may not be news to you – either way, I hope you find it as a reminder to pay attention to how you are spending your energy, and your life.