Hint: it’s all about balance!
When it comes to healthy living, if knowledge were the only thing required, we would all be Olympic athletes. We all want to live a happy and healthy life, and ideally for as long as possible! There is no shortage of theories as to the best ways to do this, but what it all boils down to is balance. To paraphrase the Buddha, it’s all about “the middle way”.
The Divine Principle teaches that we are not just a mind, a body, or a spirit, but the harmonious union of all three. Unification Thought tells us that “a person’s spirit mind and physical mind engage in harmonious give-and-receive action centering on Heart, and their faculties of intellect, emotion and will are equally developed in a balanced way, centering on Heart” (The New Essentials of Unification Thought, 165). Centered on our Heart (with a capital H! Not the organ that pumps blood but our spiritual, intangible center), our body, mind, and spirit are united and correspond to three important elements: intellect, emotion and will.
When we are emotionally healthy, it fuels our physical health and vise versa. Our spiritual health fosters both physical and emotional well being. Our bodies, mind, and spirit, when well-balanced, all play an equal role in helping us to achieve our goals and live our best life.
Here’s how we can use those elements of intellect, emotion, and will to help us on our path to healthy living:
We all know which foods are healthy and which are not, and that we should set aside time every week for exercise. We know that we should take care of our emotional well-being and nurture our relationships.
Even if we don’t know exactly how, there are millions of resources available for us to gain and hone that knowledge. If you are struggling in some area of your life, whether physical or spiritual, first arm yourself with some quality knowledge that will help propel you forward.
Once we are equipped with knowledge, we need the will to put that knowledge into practice. That means setting goals for ourselves, making healthy choices and incorporating self-care as part of our daily or weekly routine. Usually, the hardest part is just beginning. Once we push past our comfort level, we are able to continue with our task and even enjoy it. The more we practice that first step, the easier it gets, and the more we are able to stretch our comfort zone.
Try strengthening your will by setting a small attainable goal, marking a date on the calendar, and putting a plan into place including all the smaller steps needed to get there.
Some days, willpower is enough to get us out of bed for an early morning run, but a strong will in and of itself is not enough to keep us moving forward for the long haul. When it gets hard, we may start thinking that lack of willpower is to blame, when really there is something else going on.
There has been a lot of research done on the link between our emotions and our physical health. How many people do you know, yourself included, who indulge in overeating, smoking, or alcohol consumption when stressed or sad? Getting to the root of our emotional triggers and recognizing them as such can help us make better choices and find healthier methods of coping.
But where do we start? When you find yourself engaging in a bad habit, take note of your feelings, and write them down. Is there a pattern? Instead of trying to avoid negative emotions try to get to the root of what is causing them. Meditation or prayer may help, and so might reaching out to friends and family for a sympathetic ear. If you need help navigating your emotions, it’s always an option to seek help with a trusted advisor or licensed professional. We all need a little guidance every now and then, and it takes courage to admit that we can’t do it all on our own.
In all areas of our lives, it is important to seek balance and to take care of our whole self. We are beings with emotion, intellect and will, with spiritual, physical, emotional and social needs. Naturally, some people will feel more confident in one area than another, but if we focus only on that area and neglect the others, the whole system loses its balance.
Check in with yourself today. What areas have you been focusing on, and which ones could use more of your attention?