Why living a healthy lifestyle is vital for quality of life.
Why would you want to become optimally healthy and pursue a healthier lifestyle?
As a general rule, people forget to take a holistic view to understand why and how to live a healthy lifestyle. Focus on lifestyle, and find out how to achieve a better lifestyle, including food, sleep, social life and self-satisfaction. Your quality of life will automatically improve.
Of course, living a healthy lifestyle makes you fitter, leaner, and more resilient, but it also sounds like a lot of work. So what can’t be done now, and what can be done later when you are fitter, leaner, and more resilient?
- Playing soccer with your child?
- Go dancing with your partner?
- Live long enough to see your children have children?
- Have energy left over in the evening to learn a new language?
- Starting your own business?
In other words, what gives you meaning in life, what is your purpose, and what do you get out of bed for? Read on to understand more about living a healthy lifestyle and how to apply it to your own life.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why living a healthy lifestyle: Introduction
- 2 Better health by adjusting your lifestyle
- 3 Why live healthier? Toyota’s five whys
- 4 What to focus on to live healthier?
- 5 What gives your life meaning, and what are you doing it all for?
- 6 A life full of meaning is a longer life
- 7 How you can find meaning
- 8 Why living a healthy lifestyle: Conclusion
Why living a healthy lifestyle: Introduction
To become healthier is possible and also more necessary than just a different diet. So just eating more vegetables won’t get us there.
Social connection, exercise, sleep, adequate relaxation, and meaning are just as important.
A good walk can do wonders for some to keep them feeling good, both mentally and physically. Others may be more suited to doing nothing at all for a while.
The path to good health is different for everyone.
Everyone is sailing their own course and must determine what is appropriate for their own situation and what they can sustain in the long run.
After all, this is a new lifestyle, not a diet that you will stick with for a few weeks. So think more in terms of a marathon, not a sprint.
Imagine yourself as captain of your own ship. You can sail in all directions and choose all directions of the wind rose.
Which direction will you choose? Having too many options, however, can have a paralyzing effect.
Let’s look at why you would want to become healthier and what direction you can take to achieve that.
Better health by adjusting your lifestyle
By asking why living a healthy lifestyle is important, you can live a healthier life.
So what are you going to focus on in the coming time?
- Connecting more with people?
- Nurturing your sleep?
- Scheduling breaks more often?
It has been scientifically proven that all of these can answer why living a healthy lifestyle is important. Still, you are the one who chooses what you focus on and what direction you go.
By the way, you will understand that everything is interrelated:
- When you sleep better, you have more energy to exercise or seek meaning.
- Those who relax more often can more easily sustain behavioral changes such as less snacking.
- When you start eating better, you sleep better.
Why live healthier? Toyota’s five whys
In the 1950s, Toyota developed a method of interrogating and understanding problems by asking a series of questions, all identical to each other: namely, why?
They argued that if you ask “Why?” enough times, you eventually get to the root of the problem and can start doing something about it.
Applied to adjusting your lifestyle to live healthier: why would you?
When you have an initial answer to this, ask yourself again why.
If you have a new answer to this that just lies one level deeper, ask yourself, “Why?” 3 more times after each new answer.
If you repeat this often enough, eventually, you will know what you are doing it for, that deepest reason.
In fact, once you have them out to pasture and exposed, you are more likely to actually stick with making permanent changes to your lifestyle.
Indeed, all you have to do is think back to why living a healthy lifestyle and this will motivate you so intensely and resonate with you from within that it becomes a lasting driving force.
What to focus on to live healthier?
Which direction will you sail? What are you going to focus on?
It is not so much to choose one factor to focus on as these topics complement each other and can all receive attention.
Choose your sailing direction according to your need or desire for these topics.
Here are six areas that can have a positive impact on your health:
Get more exercise daily
- Move as often as possible for a short time, for example, between two (work) chores.
- Find someone to exercise or sport with and meet up with them at set times.
- Provide at least 150 minutes of moderate or strenuous exercise each week. Five times a half hour is better than just two times a longer effort.
- Do muscle and bone strengthening exercises twice a week. Online you can find hundreds of them.
- Also, add balance exercises to your exercise routine, such as certain yoga poses or the skipping rope as a morning workout.
- Try to take between 5,000 and 10,000 steps every day. Use a pedometer or a fitness app for this purpose.
Optimize your sleep
- Don’t start fretting when you wake up, but try to do something that relaxes you.
- Make time each day for relaxation; a good night starts during the day!
- Provide a cool, dark, well-ventilated bedroom
- Go to bed around the same time every night and get up around the same time every morning.
- Get out of bed if you are awake for more than 15 minutes.
- Build the day slowly. Clean up a little, read a little, turn off all your monitors
- Do not drink coffee, cola, or caffeinated teas after 3 pm.
Make more time for relaxation
- When waiting for something or someone, look around you instead of at your screen.
- Take short breaks throughout the day. For example, after every hour, stretch your legs for five minutes with a longer break for lunch.
- Find a relaxing leisure activity or hobby.
- Go outside every day and seek out nature.
- Yoga, relaxation exercises, meditation; try it sometime.
- Turn off your smartphone more often, and don’t check your (work) mail after work.
Pay attention to your nutrition
- Eat unsaturated fats such as olive oil and nuts.
- Eat three full meals a day, no snacks.
- Eat at least 8 to 9 ounces of vegetables and two pieces of fruit per day.
- Eat more plant-based and fewer animal products.
- Drink unsweetened beverages, preferably water, tea and/or coffee, and as little alcohol as possible.
- Replace white pasta and white rice with whole-grain pasta and brown rice.
- Eat fresh and as little industrially processed food as possible.
- Eat as little sugar and other fast carbohydrates as possible.
- Be friendly and show interest in others, ask questions and listen with attention.
- Have a chat with someone you would typically pay little or no attention to.
- Consciously reserve time for loved ones and put them at the top of your list.
- Choose especially to connect with people who give you energy and do not suck energy.
- Are you feeling lonely? Go outside and visit a store or a coffee shop.
- Touch the people you care about (if it is appropriate and allowed).
- Invest in friendships, but also in contact with neighbors.
Tip: Check out our other post for more details about why and how to seek more social interaction: Social Relationships and Health: Friendship and Love as Vitamins
Make time for reflection
- Be grateful for what is good and write it down every day.
- Be kind to yourself and the people around you.
- By practicing mindfulness, you connect with what’s going on inside you and make conscious choices.
- Focus your attention on that which makes you happy. Answer the question: what do I get out of bed for in the morning?
- Keep trying new things and learning.
- See if volunteering is for you.
What gives your life meaning, and what are you doing it all for?
Knowing what you’re doing it all for increases the likelihood that you’ll answer why living a healthy lifestyle is important and, therefore, a long, healthy, and happy life.
But what if you don’t know exactly what your life purpose is? How do you find out?
Meaningfulness is quite a broad term, and some mean something general by it.
How can you give meaning to your life? Why living a healthy lifestyle?
Others talk mainly about meaning in relation to questions about life and death: why are we here, what is there before and after life?
For others, it is about spirituality and thus about, for example, self-development; how can I be a more loving, wiser, patient person?
And finally, for many people, meaning is about religion.
In this context, by ‘meaning,’ we simply mean the purpose for which you live. So it’s the answer to the question: What do you get out of bed for?
And this question breaks down again into the following two questions:
- What gives you meaning in life, and
- What gives your life meaning?
In other words, what makes your heart beat faster, and what contribution do you want to make to your surroundings, your hometown, or even the world?
Often it is a collection of things that complement each other and usually make you happy.
They are the things that you enjoy doing, but moreover, that you feel are meaningful and have meaning for you personally.
Tips for discovering what gives your life meaning
- Learn something new and try new things or go on a trip with no preconceived plan.
- Think in terms of possibilities; what is possible?
- Are you facing an important choice? Then ask yourself what increases your quality of life the most.
- Find out what makes you happy and gives you energy, and focus your attention on that.
- Each day, write down three things for which you are grateful.
- Notice what makes your heart jump and what makes you tick. Can you build on those experiences and activities?
A life full of meaning is a longer life
Feeling that you are living a meaningful life is one of the predictors of a long, happy and healthy life.
This is shown, among other things, by research into the so-called Blue Zones, areas of the world where people are more likely than average to live to be 100 years old or older.
Examples of these Blue Zones include Okinawa in Japan and Sardinia in Italy.
It turns out that residents of these areas not only follow healthy eating guidelines, exercise a lot, and relax enough but also clearly have a sense of purpose.
If you have a clearly defined sense of purpose, and you are actively engaged in it, preferably in a group setting, it results in an extension of the expected life span.
Connection to your deeper self decreases the chance of physical and mental illness, and if you get sick, you recover better.
In addition, the risk of suicide and addiction decreases. That’s the final conclusion of more than 3,000 studies on the link between meaning and health.
Meaning can be found for yourself but also for others
- Doing something for another makes you happy. How would you help people around you, your city, or even the whole world?
- What do you want your loved ones to say about you when they make a speech about you, say on your 80th birthday?
- What makes your heart jump? No matter how small, consider it a poke in the right direction.
- When do you forget to eat? When do you forget the time? That may well be one of the pursuits for which you live.
- Suppose you have a year to live. What will you certainly do (more of)?
How meaning makes for a healthier life
Why the chances of healthy and happy aging become so much greater when you have a clearly defined sense of purpose is not entirely clear.
There are several possible explanations for this.
For example, it may be that the people who have clarity about what they get out of bed for are also among the kind of people who pay better attention to their health.
It may also be because their life purpose makes them more close-knit, like people with the same life purpose.
And that subsequently, thanks to the close ties, they are better looked after and there is more reason for them to look after themselves. After all, you are counted on. You matter to others.
Finally, it could also be that feeling meaningful makes you feel more like your life is literally “worth it.
And if your life is worth living, it is also worth lifestyle improvements.
So make sure you have a clear sense of purpose and know what is important to you in life.
As such, you can keep reminding yourself that those tricky lifestyle improvement steps you’re taking will result in something worthwhile.
- I will get out of bed anyway to go to the gym even though it is still dark and cold outside, because I want to get fitter.
- When I get fitter, I can do the things that give my life meaning, like go on a long bike ride with the kids.
This makes lifestyle not a goal in itself but something that allows us to live healthier, age better, be more vital and do meaningful things with the time that is freed up as a result.
By the way, we shouldn’t immediately make something heavy of these lifestyle improvements either. Every step helps, and usually, you enjoy it instantly. So the following examples don’t sound so bad, do they?
- Spend more time with friends and loved ones.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Walk more often or play another sport.
- Meditate for fifteen minutes every day, or just take time for yourself.
How you can find meaning
Of course, it’s not always easy to determine what you’re doing it for, knowing what makes sense to you. Sometimes you don’t even know (for a while) what you like and what you want anymore.
After all, that can also change throughout your life.
For example, there may be a period when developing yourself is the focus and then another period when you focus more on others and want to help out at the local soup kitchen.
However, the fact is that striving for more money, more prestige, and more stuff usually does not lead to a feeling of significance.
It can actually lead to more stress, causing you to eat worse or use alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to get rid of that feeling.
Gain insight with this simple exercise
A simple exercise that can provide insight is to write down five things that give you energy and five that cost you energy. Or keep track for a while of what made you happy that day and why.
From that, you can deduce what you want more of, what is good for you and probably, therefore, for the people around you.
Because finding your mission makes you cheerful and driven, a happy person, and that’s fine for everyone.
Remember that such a mission need not be grand and compelling. Small goals also count.
Another good one is to train your attentiveness by practicing mindfulness, meditation, or yoga.
Not knowing what you want, what makes sense to you, and what your purpose is, is often a sign that you have lost connection with the here and now.
This also makes you fall into automatisms that are not healthy for you. By training attentiveness, you take off your blinders.
Practicing mindfulness helps you reconnect with what’s going on inside of you.
You become aware of your automatisms. You are no longer at the mercy of ingrained patterns, which has everything to do with lifestyle.
Those who live in the here and now can make choices. Lifestyle improvements then become possible and more effortless.
More ideas for finding out what your form of meaning is by getting creative:
- have candid conversations with loved ones
- active daydreaming
Why living a healthy lifestyle: Conclusion
By adjusting your lifestyle, you can start living healthier. That will make you healthier and fitter.
But there is a deeper reason why you would do this. Each of us has our own driving force that gives life meaning.
Adjusting your lifestyle can be done in roughly six areas: exercise, sleep, relaxation, nutrition, social relationships, and reflection.
That’s how you can change your lifestyle. However, what will matter more in sustaining these lifestyle adjustments in the long run, is why you want to make this adjustment.
Living a meaningful life results in a longer life expectancy and less risk of disease. Moreover, it can help not only yourself but also others.
However, before you can achieve this, you must ask yourself what a meaningful life looks like for you personally. This can be done with the help of several exercises.
Once you know what is important to you and why you get out of bed in the morning, the rest will follow much easier and less laborious.
Related: After finding out which adjustments to make to lead a healthier life, comes the challenge of sticking to your new resolutions, so check our other post for tips to keep at it: How to Stick to a Healthy Lifestyle? Tips to Stay on Track