The bestseller The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up teaches that a life free of extraneous stuff, leaves you room to respect and treasure what brings you joy. Making room for wellness is a lot like that, too. Personally, I had to get really messy before I was able to understand that having the stamina to compete in an ironman triathlon is not the same as being well.
I was that person: a half-ironman competitor. And then, one day, I found that I wasn't: my knees wouldn't cooperate. After three knee surgeries, I was benched from exercise for three months, gained 25 pounds, and realized that maybe I wasn't naturally thin after all. 20 years of extreme exercise had not made me intrinsically well and this came as a shock. So I did what I had never done, I gave up intensive cardio workouts to burn calories and the accompanying endorphin rush I had grown so addicted to. Instead I took up yoga, and changed my diet to one where I ate mostly vegetables for the better part of a year to slim back down. What's more, I got used to feeling just a little bit hungry, and making peace with that sensation. Just as Marie Kondo suggests that you clean out your closet by choosing what items to keep and what to toss in one fell swoop, all at once, I cleaned up my relationships around food and exercise.
It was only then, weight lost, handstand mastered, appreciative every morning I stepped onto my yoga mat, that I started to think about what wellness truly meant. It's a lot more than green juice for breakfast and being able to do a long set of forearm Geckos with Grokker, the wellness video network I started. (Trust me, they're hard!) Wellness is the hard-earned reward of tidying up attitudes and behaviors that ultimately deliver happiness.
Here are six ways to tidy up your approach to wellness, too.
Conduct a Self-Awareness Workout
Marie Kondo recommends that you visualize what everything can mean in your life. Think about your passions. Be thoughtful about how you spend your time and with whom. Make choices that matter to you.
Weed Out Energy-Drainers
Just as weeds steal nutrients out of the soil, there are people in your life who drain energy, too. Be thoughtful about the people who gather around you. That doesn't mean only spending time with your inner circle of beloved friends and family, rather, choose when to engage with others who feed off your good energy and, they, in turn, feed off yours.
Lose the White Lies
This is easier than it sounds. Often, when we don't want to disappoint people, we tell white lies. We think it will make them (and us) feel better. But telling the truth is so much easier when approached with kindness. For example, if asked to run a bake sale at school and you really don't want to, say "no;" but offer to donate funds instead, or to reach out to school families to help raise money another way that makes you happy and, most likely, more efficiently for the school.
For me, wellness is about connecting to myself. Every morning, I hop out of bed and onto my yoga mat, to meditate and practice, using videos on Grokker. Wellness is about connecting to you, being mindful about your decisions and behaviors. The benefit of practicing alone is that you can reduce stress more simply, leaving you more effective at work, and at home with family and friends.
Happiness is a Choice, Not A Destination
Happiness is not a reward you are handed at the end of your life. Choose happiness and pursue it relentlessly. Be deliberate in defining what that is for you because happiness isn't something that just happens. Decide what that will look like for you. Exercise can be a part of that. So is deciding to be joyful. I do that every day.
Breathe and Count to 10
When things get messy again, (and they will, trust me), our bodies will likely tell us we're out of balance. We won't feel well. To get back in balance, breathe, count to ten and try not to speak. Whatever you say when you aren't feeling as well as you would like to, you may regret. Regrets cause stress. Count to 20 if need be, and stay silent. If you need to express your feelings, send yourself an email, text or jot a note in a journal. Save it if you must, but let the moment pass. You will get back into your natural flow.
Most importantly, if Marie Kondo, the best-selling author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has taught me anything, it's that tidying up extends well beyond the closet and the countertops. Tidying up your approach to wellness means making sure to have cleared the space in your life to ensure that wellness is part and parcel of what you do every day. Not because you should, but because it brings you joy to live your life to the fullest by embracing it.