Today I want to discuss an under-appreciated aspect of increasing our happiness.
Many people understand on some small level that the way they take care of their body has some effect on their happiness, mental function, and outlook on life.
But most people totally ignore this and don’t realize how big of a difference it actually makes.
It’s possible that I am more sensitive than most people to this sort of thing, but I doubt it.
I think I just pay attention more than your average person to my mind’s response to the way I treat my body.
Either way, I notice a distinct difference in my mood within about three or four days of a change in diet or exercise routine.
This has happened very consistently for years. And considering how my diet/exercise patterns in college changed very rapidly and very often, I have plenty of experience to make that judgement.
We can divide the body practices that effect our happiness into three categories: diet/nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle.
There are many specific tactics you can use in each of these areas that will have a real, noticeable, and scientifically explainable benefit.
Right now, I just want to give a very quick overview, and I will save the juicy details for later.
First, diet. The relationship between your diet and mental health is very strong, even though it can be a difficult connection to wrap your head around at first.
But the reality is that just as eating the wrong food can make you feel physically ill or low performing, the wrong foods will also not have you feeling your best from a mental standpoint.
Your diet involves a number of factors, including macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Since these nutrients are the building blocks of your neurotransmitters which help regulate mood and are important in many other biochemical processes effecting mood, the food we eat has a direct physiological effect on our happiness.
Next is exercise. Study after study has shown a strong link between physical activity and our mood, and we would be stupid to ignore this.
In addition to many other effects, exercise releases endorphins, which are our body’s natural “feel good” chemicals.
That’s why phenomena like the runner’s high exists.
The potential effect of these aspects of our life is huge, and you probably don’t need me to tell you that. I will go into much more detail on these in future posts.
Today, you don’t have any specific exercise to do.
I just want you to think about body practices and how in the past you may not have paid enough attention to them.
Becoming conscious of this will have profound effects, and will lay the groundwork for the more specific actions I will recommend in the coming days.
Move on to Day 6: Eat Your Omega-3 Fats.