“Well-being cannot exist just in your own head. Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment.”
– Martin Seligman, U.S. psychologist and author of “Flourish.”
Once upon a time (though this is no fairytale, believe me), well-being came much further down the list of my priorities than it does now, and my life had absolutely no style whatsoever. In fact, you could say I didn’t have a life – only a shallow existence. My priorities centered solely around the next bottle of liquor, the next joint, and, towards the end of this madness, the next meth hit. Like I said, it’s no fairytale.
Today, however, you’ll find me drastically different. After completely riding my body of alcohol and drugs through a detox process and a successful 6 months spent in a rehabilitation center, nearly one whole decade ago, my life kind of has its own style now (one that I like far better, that’s for sure), and my well-being is my #1 priority, each day, every day. For me, well-being is sobriety, gained through abstinence. No more, no less. What has come because of that is what I wish to share with you here.
I was a child when I had my first tentative sip of alcohol. After that drink, I just wanted another, and it’s been the same for me ever since. The first time I smoked marijuana, and from then on, I just wanted to get high every single day and let the world take care of itself. Getting more drunk, getting more high – those seemed to be my life’s ambitions in a nutshell.
The world, which I had tried so hard to ignore, took notice of me one day in the shape of a very tall, very wide state trooper, and I began the long, shambling walk to prison. On release, nearly 2 years later, I went after those life’s ambitions mentioned above with ferocity. That lasted nearly 4 months, until my parents, confused and scared, said “No more,” and drove my wrecked mind and body to the next state over, where they delivered me (what was left, anyway) to the detox and rehab facility.
It’s not often you can say that your Mom and Dad have actually saved your life. Mine did.
Rehab was, by far, the best education I had ever had, or am likely to have, for that matter. Every day was filled with interesting classes that not only taught us the tools we needed to live a life of sobriety, but also how best to get our bodies, our minds, and our spirits to a really good place – and keep them there.
At the end of our education, there were no handwritten scrolls awarded, no post-graduation parties to be held, only the quiet confidence that we would shortly leave, and we’d do more than just survive in the outside world we’d shunned for so long – we’d actually live a little. Here are your 5 essential habits to improve your lifestyle and well-being:
Let’s face it – you wouldn’t put dirty, low-grade gasoline in your top-of-the-range Mercedes, would you? Yet we are all guilty of throwing unhealthy food down our necks because it’s quicker, or it’s easier, or because the kids are screaming for a Happy Meal and your Mercedes is coming up to a drive-thru. Seriously, you really are what you eat, so think – Light – Natural – Fresh, and you won’t go wrong.
A healthy, nutritious diet consists of plenty of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, lean protein, such as chicken or fish, grains, nuts, and, just as importantly, plenty of water to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
And I mean – regular. However, I don’t mean you have to visit the gym on a daily basis and leave with your arms about to drop off. A good 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day will keep your body working as it should, with good energy levels lasting throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be a solitary affair, either. Team sports, cycling clubs, even a ten-pin bowling league are not only great ways to keep fit but a chance to socialize as well.
Lose The Bad Habits
By bad habits, I’m talking about alcohol and the dreaded nicotine (I dread to think what may have crossed your mind then!). If you’re going to drink, then you need to understand the phrase “in moderation.” According to doctors, this means 1 drink a day for women, and 2 for men (sorry, ladies). Maximum. I’ll repeat that – maximum. Any more than that and the alcohol will begin to have a noticeable effect on your health. Obviously, if you are drinking as I used to, you need some serious help, so ask.
When it comes to smoking, there’s only this advice – don’t. Undoubtedly, one of the most dangerous habits that mankind has invented. It will kill you if you give it the chance, and you know it.
Hang Out With Your Friends
Believe me, this one has a completely different meaning for me now than it used to when friends were chosen by how much meth they usually had, how likely they were to share because you had no money, and so forth. Being a good person cut no slack with me. Nowadays, so different. Hanging out with the friends I have now lifted me in a way that substance abuse never could – a natural and healthy high just kicking back and enjoying the moment.
Never underestimate the importance of the time you spend with those closest to you – the laughs you share, or the social bonds you create both contribute immensely to your well-being.
Keep A Journal
From the moment in rehab that my hand was steady enough to actually hold a pen, I have kept a journal. It was one of the first things I was given in rehab, with the following advice:
“Nothing will make sense to you right now, but RIGHT NOW!
Get it all down on paper, whatever it is.”
And so I did. All the shrapnel-like thoughts embedded in my brain were left in that journal and all the ones that followed it. It was by far one of the most therapeutic things I have ever done, and it is a practice I continue to this day.
Keeping a journal allows you to acknowledge all that is good in your life, and to also acknowledge what isn’t right, what you need to change. It allows you to express yourself in a very private way and brings a semblance of order in a world that really seems to move way too quickly sometimes.
So, there you go – 5 essential habits to improve your lifestyle and well-being. It seriously pays to have good habits. Did you know that around 60% of what you do today, you did yesterday? You’ll do it tomorrow again, too. As humans, we spend a lot of time stuck on auto-repeat, whether we like it or not. The human condition, bless us.
These 5 essential habits – Healthy Nutrition, Regular Exercise, Lose The Bad Habits, Hang Out With Your Friends, and Keep A Journal – are the kind of good habits you need to have in your life, especially when someone presses your auto-repeat button.
What good habits have contributed in a positive way to your lifestyle and well-being? Please feel free to share with a comment below. Finally, if you are really drinking as much as I used to, you do need some serious help, so please ask. Be good.