Have you ever read the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? I try to get through it at least once per year. In it, the late Steven Covey teaches us that our professional lives are products of how we think more than any other factor.
I would argue that the same is true for our health.
My mentor Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, challenged me to find the common mindsets among my healthiest patients. I thought about those who seemed to have natural health as well as those who had overcome major challenges. It was a powerful exercise. Despite practicing for nearly 20 years, this was a question I had never explored.
After thinking hard about who I would consider to be in this group, I interviewed them and gathered the data which evolved into a list of eight mindsets that I wanted to share with you.
Mindset 1 – You live with purpose
This habit is first on the list for a reason. Purpose matters. People who have a compelling ‘why’ can make do with almost any ‘how.’ What would you say if someone asked you what your purpose was? If you did not have an answer that came to mind, put 'figuring it out' on the top of your to do list.
Mindset 2 – You see health as essential
There is a saying that a person who has health has a hundred goals yet someone without health has only one. It is impossible to focus on anything else when you have ongoing pain or frustration with your body.
Mindset 3 – You believe you can heal
Do you have a bad set of genes? Are you powerless to change your diet? Does it seem unfair that the foods you like best don’t make you feel good? These beliefs themselves may be more powerful than your genes or your diet. Henry Ford said whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you’ll be right. Know that every atom in your body is replaced regularly. Most in just a few months. Your mind is so powerful. Never use it to keep yourself trapped in frustrating symptoms.
Mindset 4 – You are flexible
Yoga is great, but I mean mentally flexible. I was at a book signing recently and got to talk to lots of my readers. One asked me how she could get more energy. She knew she was fatigued because her diet was limited to little more than raw vegetables. She explained in detail how she was unwilling to eat any other foods because of all the reasons she had read about how fruit, nuts, legumes, animal protein, and grains were all bad for her. When she was done I did my best to summarize her question: “So you want to do exactly what you’re doing now without changing anything but get completely different results from it?” She and I both had a good laugh and I think the new perspective made her think. If your health is exactly the way you and your doctor want it to be, don’t change a thing. If it is not, being mentally flexible and receptive to change will be necessary for your recovery.
Mindset 5 – You own your habits
Who chooses what goes on your fork? Who decides whether or not you’re working out today? If you don’t feel in charge of your decisions, then let’s change that. Think of it like developing a muscle. Choose one small thing you can control and master it. Start with a solid breakfast. Usually food cravings don’t start until later in the day. Once you get past a month of having a regular, healthy breakfast, think about the next meal to take control of.
Mindset 6 – Your friends are healthy
Are your closest friends health conscious? If not, you’ll have an uphill battle. It is said that we are the product of the five people we spend the most time with. Think about who is already in your circle that you would like to emulate. Maybe even someone you envy or resent for always looking fit. Sometimes those you resent show up in your life to be your best teacher. Mimic their habits or make a bold move and just ask them about how they make it work. People get a rush out of sharing their successes. Give them a chance to shine and give yourself an opportunity to grow and deepen a friendship.
Mindset 7 – You are a team player
Do you have a health care team? How do you feel about them? Do you trust their advice and follow it closely or do you second guess them and do your own research online? Think about this - if an electrician wanted to put a 40 amp circuit breaker in your home’s wiring, would you spend hours on Google trying to figure out if a 20 amp might work better? If you do not feel your team is worthy of your trust, replace them with people who are.
Mindset 8 – You know your vulva from your Volvo
If your nutritionist tells you to eat more greens, it helps if you know he means spinach and kale, not green M&M’s. It is a balancing act, you don’t need to get another degree, but it pays to have a working knowledge of how your body works so you can communicate with your team more easily.
Before you stress about which food to be afraid of this week or how many milligrams of vitamin N you should take, think about your mindset. Once it is right, the details magically fall into place!