“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. ” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Over the weekend, I spent a little time maintaining my bike. I filled the tires with air, check the chain, checked the brakes, and made sure all the bolts were tight. Yesterday, I rode it for the first time after my minor maintenance job to it. What happened? It was the easiest and fastest ride I’ve had all summer! This wasn’t because the wind was in my favor. This wasn’t because I was riding a course that was more downhill than usual. This wasn’t because I was more physically prepared to ride. No, this was simply because I had taken time to maintain the bike.
Our cars should have oil changes every 3,000 miles. Our furnace should have a yearly checkup. Our kids should have yearly physicals at the doctor.
So, we maintain our cars, our houses, our kids. But how do we maintain ourselves?
Exercise: We should exercise on a regular basis. This includes both cardio vascular type activities (running, biking, interval training, walking, jump rope, etc.) and strength training (weight training, resistance exercises, etc.). Not going into much detail here, we should have a mix of the two for the most efficient fat loss and muscle building activity.
Nutrition: Proper nutrition is a very important part of our physical maintenance. We should be getting a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Included in this should be lots of fruits and vegetables. And we should also look at how much we are eating. Keep portion sizes small. Know what you are eating. Don’t overstuff yourself. On the other hand, don’t be too restrictive in the number of calories you are eating as well. Just like overeating, under eating is a downward spiral you want to avoid as well.
Just as important as our physical maintenance is our mental maintenance. How do we remain sharp, focused, and create the life we desire?
This one is not as easy to define. The key is that we need to do something. What that something is for you will really depend upon what works for you.
First off, it is important to do some regular, daily or weekly mental maintenance. This could include some sort of meditation or quiet time each day to collect your thoughts and plan your day. Or taking time to read a book. Or going out for an evening run (physically this is good, but it can also be a mental maintenance activity as well) – and clearing your mind after a long day. Maybe it’s playing a game with family members. Or whatever it is that gives you some time to clear your mind and re-focus. Think of these as regular activities that are done fairly often (up to several times a week).
On top of that, it is also important to do some more thorough mental maintenance. This would be less often – think about an annual checkup with your doctor. This can come in many forms, the key is to do something. And write it down. What you write down you are more likely to accomplish. This could be called your goals list, your New Year’s resolutions, your “Things To Do Before You Die” list. Note that I’m not personally a big fan of New Year’s resolutions since they usually tend to be quickly thought out and also quickly forgotten. But if it works for you, then that’s what you should do. What you want is something that helps you define who you are and who you want to be. This helps to give your life direction. Otherwise, we become controlled by forces outside of our control, instead of choosing the directions we want to go.
This is not to say that any of this is easy to do, or even more so, easy to accomplish. All of this takes time and real introspection into who you are. And we have to decide, is it worth the effort to understand ourselves better. I hope the answer is yes. Yes, that we want to lead our lives the way we desire. Yes, that we want to choose the paths we go down. Yes, that we want to be successful in our terms. Yes, that we want to create a great life!
We maintain “things” we have in our life so they’ll continue to perform optimally. What’s also important, in fact, more important, is that we maintain ourselves – both physically and mentally. Through a combination of proper physical and mental maintenance, we can lead the lives of abundance and joy we desire.