The First Pillar of Happiness: Good Health

pillar 1

The first pillar of health is obvious. Good health. I remember when I was a (very naïve, very stupid) child, we were required to write an essay in class, the topic being ‘Health or Wealth?’. I believe I was 10 years old at that time. Growing up in a money-conscious Asian family (not super-traditional Asian, but in a family where the importance of budgeting and saving was heavily stressed, even though we  were fairly well off), the environment inculcated into me that more money = better. Hence, like an idiot, I wrote the essay, choosing wealth over health, and justifying it by saying that if I had a lot of money, I could simply buy good health! It made perfect sense to my 10 year old brain.

My 10 year old brain
My 10 year old brain

Of course I should note that at that point in my childhood, I was a skinny, nerdy, weak, and extremely unathletic kid (I did not get into health and fitness until college). As such, I never truly knew the power and potential that the human body could achieve. To my egoistic child brain, the body was simply a vessel for my almighty and powerful brain. Of course, this was just a backwards rationalization of my ego, rationalizing my physical weakness away. This is a line of reasoning you will still find in many adults nowadays, if you have ever heard someone say ‘going to the gym is a waste of time’, ‘I value mental over physical pursuits’ etc. this is the same backwards rationalization in action.

gandhi health

Here’s the thing, I am not denigrating mental and intellectual pursuits at all! In fact, they should go hand in hand. Too often, people get into a limiting us vs them dichotomy, reflected in the cultural zeitgeist through the ‘jocks vs geeks’ trope, which truly limits our personal development and growth. To give you an extreme example of the importance of healthy, ask yourself this question, would you trade places with Stephen Hawking? I thought so.

But, but, but, I need to focus on building my career! I have no time for health and fitness! To give you an analogy, that’s like saying that I’m so busy with my job, that I have no time to shower, eat, and brush my teeth! Health and fitness should be viewed as an essential part of your daily routine. Having a good degree of physical health and fitness will actually accelerate your career development via the following:

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  • Self-Discipline: Busy work week? Schedule your gym sessions early in the morning before you head off to work. No time to cook? Meal prep on Sundays, and save all your healthy meals for the week (make sure to get the right balance of protein, fat and carbs, as well as sufficient micronutrients via fruits and vegetables and supplements, if necessary).
  • Increased Energy Levels: I’ll be tired after working out…. Yes, at first and immediately after the work out. But overall you will have more not less energy from living a health oriented lifestyle, energy that can be directed toward further advancement in your career.
  • Higher Focus and Mental Clarity: In line with the above, having a higher energy levels will also translate to having better focus and clarity at work, all positives. On the other side of the scale, just think back at all the co-workers you’ve seen come in with a hangover after a weekend of hard drinking and partying and ask yourself: how productive do you think they were that day?

In short, I hope this article has clarified on why having a good baseline level of health and fitness (getting into competitive athletics, even at a recreational level, is an entirely different animal) should be the first pillar to build for a happy, successful life. In future articles we will look at how we can start and maintain a health based routine and habit.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a few videos below, showing exactly what the human body is capable of.