101 Ways to Wellness
TWO- The Joy Diet
Welcome to the second entry of 101 Ways to Wellness! In this entry we are focusing on one of my favorite authors and Life Coaches, Martha Beck. I had originally intended to focus on the two coaching books that helped me find my new path, but they are so truly interactive and personal that I don’t think I could do them justice, so instead I will just introduce you to them and tempt you with their greatness.
The first is Finding your Own North Star, in which Beck provides a series of frameworks and exercises that helps guide you to “your right life, the ultimate realization of your potential for happiness.” Beck believes this knowledge sits inside all of us just as surely as we can always find the North Star shining bright in the vast sky.
The sequel to this, Steering by Starlight helps you become your own guide once you have identified where your North Star is trying to lead you. If you are questioning your current path, or even find yourself completely without a recognizable path, I highly recommend investing the time to work through these books!
For today, I will be highlighting one of my favorite “diet” books written by Beck , called the Joy Diet. From the introduction, it reads “If you are looking for ways to shed your potbelly or firm your buttocks, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. As far as I’m concerned your belly and butt are magnificent. This book contains instructions for a different kind of ‘diet’, one designed not for the body but for the soul.”
The highlights of the ten menu items Beck suggests to enhance the vibrancy and satisfaction of our lives include:
- Nothing: Set aside 15 minutes a day where you can be truly undisturbed, and practice watching your thoughts rather than being ruled by them. Stop mindlessly chasing goals and figure out which goals are worth going after
- Truth: Create one moment of truth each day. Begin by asking yourself the questions: “What am I feeling?” and “What hurts”?
- Desire: Find an authentic yearning, a core desire, and let it become an intention. Believe that you can form your life around the fulfillment of your desires.
- Creativity: Every day, write down a new and tangible idea that will help move you toward one of your core desires. Stretch your creativity by different types of “mind-yoga”: break from social norms, change your routine, and try something different that you’ve never experienced before.
- Risk: Choose a scary goal, take the smallest scary step possible, and make it very hard for yourself to back out. Learn to be comfortable with a little fear, and then take the plunge.
- Treats: Take time to think about the behaviors and experiences that make you smile, as well as the things that go against your “expectations” of yourself. Spend time being unproductive, silly, or downright unsophisticated if it allows your soul some room to breathe and feel joy.
- Play: Take a moment to remember your real life’s work and differentiate it from the games you play to achieve it. Then commit to playing wholeheartedly.
- Laughter: Laughter has been scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones and boost our immune system. See if you can laugh at least thirty times a day, and don’t be afraid to use props (TV, movies, websites, etc).
- Connection: Once you have become comfortable with some of these skills (doing nothing, pursuing your desires, experiencing truth), learn to reach that place of peace while with another person.
- Feasting: Create a context of celebration by identifying experiences that nourish you in a variety of different ways, and try to engage in these activities at least three times a day. Conclude your feast with a ritual of giving thanks, for all that is, and is not, joyful in your life.
I will leave you with one of my favorite poems from Steering by Starlight that I have posted in my office:
Live while you are alive
Learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit
Learn to free yourself from all things that have molded you
And which limit your secret and undiscovered road…
Never forget that love
Requires that you be
The greatest person you are capable of being,
Self-generating and strong and gentle—
Your own hero and star…
Be grateful for life as you live it
And may wonderful light
Always guide you along the unfolding road
Next time we will be shifting a bit from our soul to science, and delving into The China Study, one the most highly touted epidemiological studies of nutrition ever conducted. The study provides conclusive evidence of the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also calls into question the usefulness and safety of many of the current popular Western diets. This is invaluable information for those of us who think we are just playing with our waistline when we ignore good nutrition – it may in fact be the single most important behavior to preventing disease and prolonging our lives. Until then, be well, and be Joyful!