This is one of the central questions that our community is working to answer.
For my part, I started asking this question when I decided that exercising and eating healthy, while important, is a painfully limited view of what it means to live a healthy life.
I would imagine that we’ll be answering this question for the rest of our lives, but here’s the answer I have today…
A healthy life involves creativity.
I mean this in the literal sense. Creative pursuits (art, dance, music, etc.) have been proven to reduce stress and provide numerous health benefits. Furthermore, I believe these activities are good for you because it’s healthy to contribute something to the world around you.
Creativity also keeps you grounded. People who spend their life creating understand how hard it is to make something valuable. They appreciate great work. They respect the willingness to take a risk and the effort required to be part of the conversation. They live in the arena instead of judging from the crowd.
And perhaps most importantly: It is through the act of creating new experiences that we discover who we are and what is important to us. The act of creating things is one of the best ways to avoid living a short, unimportant life.
The joy of creativity is why I love photography and why I’m working to become better at it.
Nobody dreams about typing at a keyboard.
Almost everything we fantasize about involves a physical action: making the game winning shot, traveling the world, creating beautiful art. To accomplish the things we dream about, we are required to be makers, explorers, and creators. We are required to move and become active participants in life. In other words, to live fulfilling lives, we need to live physical lives.
Too often, however, we take for granted the opportunity that our health gives us to live a life that’s true to us. Good health allows you to actively participate in your life. Not everyone chooses to live fully, but if you’re not physically fit then you can’t even make the choice if you wanted to do so.
And finally, one of the best ways I’ve found for improving my mind is by improving my body. Not every person who is strong mentally, pushes themselves physically. But I have yet to find someone who pushes themselves physically that isn’t strong mentally.
The benefits of living a physical life is why I believe in strength training and why I’m working to become the type of person who never misses a workout.
Human beings are the most social creatures on planet earth. Fundamentally, we are here for connection. So, I have trouble believing that you are living a healthy life if it doesn’t involve others.
Furthermore, the people you connect with will either make you or destroy you. Those who have already walked through the fire can help you do the same. And those who haven’t will make it seem impossible for you to do so.
To be curious is to be human. Imagine the first year — or even five years — of your life. Almost everything you are exposed to is new. Each day brings something to discover, something to learn, something to explore.
And then somehow, as the years roll by, we grow up and start to transition. We begin to learn things by reading about them and watching them instead of by experiencing them.
When we are babies, we learn about the world by touching it, holding it, and living it … and not merely reading about it. Sure, we will eat a stray LEGO block every now and then, but we make it past the occasional misstep and end up better off. I believe there is value in experiencing the world around us instead of simply learning about it.
These wonders of explorations are why I travel around the world in search of new cultures, new ideas, and new technologies. My hope is to learn things by living them, and to do my best to spread those lessons far and wide. The best ideas are always somewhere. My goal is to share them everywhere.
Living a healthy life is rooted in participating in the world around you. The people who are living healthy, fulfilling lives are actively living instead of simply being alive.
The famous physicist Richard Feynman summarizes this idea perfectly:
Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.
—Richard P. Feynman
Go Live a Healthy Life
Here in the United States, I’m getting ready to celebrate Christmas with my family.
I’ll be doing my best to create (by taking photos, of course), live a physical life (I’ll still be lifting during the holidays), connecting with family and friends, exploring the world by experiencing it (the experience of opening some presents, perhaps?), and participating in life.
Happy Holidays. Wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re celebrating, live well.