Category Archives: Intellectual Health

4 Little Known Ways To Be More Creative

 

Being able to think creatively can help you in a variety of situations, from coming up with new solutions to old problems to making up a bedtime story for your kids or even for researchers trying to solve a medical or other scientific mystery.

Some of the ideas you often hear to unleash your creative side are brainstorming, going for a walk to clear your mind, and listening to music. But I thought it’d be fun to outline some of the lesser known tools you can try to be more creative. They might surprise you!

Head to Starbucks

There’s a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research that showed people who work in moderately noisy environments scored higher in creativity tests and were also judged as more creative by their peers who were present in the same environment. “Moderately noisy” was defined as about 70 decibels, which is about the noise level you will find at your local coffee shop.

You might think that this is because people are energized by the additional noise, but the study found it was actually because small doses of distraction make the mind work on a more abstract level, which is also a more creative level.

If you need to give your creative side a nudge, head to Starbucks or some other location with a similar noise level – maybe a park or a library?

Dust Off Your Xbox

A recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior suggested that kids who play video games tend to be more creative – even if those games are violent. The head researcher, Linda Jackson, studied 500 12-year-olds. Using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, Jackson found that the more kids played, the more creative they became.

Maybe one explanation is that video games require you to make decisions and also create new ways to solve problems. So perhaps if you start gaming, the creative problem-solving you practice in your game will help you with creative problem-solving in real life. If it works for 12-year-olds, it just might work for you too!

Say “Ohm”

There are so many benefits to meditating, and now it is even being credited with getting your creative juices flowing. A study by Lorenza Colzato at Leiden University and published just last month in Frontiers in Cognition, found certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking.

The study found that “Open Monitoring” meditation, where you are receptive to all the thoughts and sensations while meditating without focusing attention on any particular concept or object, helped promote divergent thinking, which is a style of thinking that allows new ideas to be generated.

If you don’t already practice meditation, you might try it as a means to unleash your creative side. To learn more about meditation and find out whether it’s something you might like, check out my article, “Meditation: Is It For Me?

Belly Up To The Bar

There’s an interesting study from the University of Illinois and published in Consciousness and Cognition that indicates alcohol helps you boost creativity, specifically creative problem-solving. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, this doesn’t mean the more drunk you get, the more creative you will be – moderation is the key!

In the study, half of the subjects (all men) were given enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol level to .075%, which is just below the legal limit for driving in most states in the US. The other half did not consume any alcohol. What the researchers found is that the subjects who drank not only were more successful at solving creative problems, but they also did so faster than their sober counterparts.

According to the lead researcher, the reason for these results probably lies in the idea that moderate alcoholic intoxication probably loosens a person’s focus of attention, making it easier to find connections among remotely related ideas, and therefore easier to create innovative solutions. Cheers!

What methods do you use for creative problem-solving or to get creative ideas flowing? I’ve always found that brainstorming helps me tremendously, as does free-flow, stream-of-consciousness thought. What works for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on facebook at www.facebook.com/OneMoveForward.

 

Bucket Lists: How To Create The Guide To Your Own Life

 

I feel like it’s time to take a break from some of the more serious posts, and have some fun! So…let’s talk about bucket lists! Have you ever created one? Have you ever thought about making one? There are probably a lot of things you would like to do in your life. If you spend some time brainstorming, you can use the list as a guide to make sure life doesn’t pass you by before you get it all done. 🙂

Why make a bucket list?

Do you ever feel like life is flying by really quickly? It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day tasks that you have to complete – getting the kids to school, handling your assignments at work, making dinner, helping the kids with homework – you know the drill. And even weekends can get jam-packed pretty quickly, especially if you’ve got one kid in basketball and another in volleyball, and you’re just trying to get everyone where they need to be and still time find to pick up groceries and hopefully get through a couple loads of laundry. Sound familiar?

Even if you don’t have that kind of tight schedule, it doesn’t take much to get into a routine that gradually turns into being stuck in a rut. Commute, work, commute, dinner, TV, sleep. And weekends go by with sleeping in, catching up with friends, and running errands.

Regardless of your lifestyle, if you don’t also take care of your life, you may find that time flies by so quickly that before you know it, you’re 100 years old, you’re wondering where time went, and you’re thinking about all the things you never got around to doing.

So that’s why you should start a bucket list. It give you a way to put your dreams down on paper. You can review it periodically to make sure you’re making progress, and you always have a reminder of the things you want to do – not just the things you need to do.

What should you put on your bucket list?

Well, the sky’s the limit, of course. Some people list small things that they want to start doing on a regular basis. Cook healthier meals, do volunteer work, keep a cleaner house. Some people have their biggest, wildest dreams on theirs, like write the Great American Novel or win an Academy Award (I have “Win the lottery” on mine – why not?).

In reading other people’s bucket lists, I’ve found that one of my favorite types of entries are the ones that are just plain fun – or funny. I think much of my list tends to be serious goals and plans and ideas I want to pursue. But on other people’s lists I read online, I saw “buy and paint a hippie van,” “catch a fish with my bare hands,” and “ride a mattress down a staircase”.

You might have travel-related entries too. Mine include visiting Vietnam and seeing different parts of India. Some others I saw were “eat sushi in Japan,” “ride a gondola in Venice,” and “ride a zipline through a jungle”.

You can find tons of ideas in this Abundance Blog article, which has over 525 ideas in 36 categories. You can also google “bucket list ideas,” but ideally you should try to use them as inspiration, and then take some time to come up with some that are truly your own.

Try to create a list of both small and big ideas. As you work on your list, think about all the things you ever wanted to do, all the places you want to visit, all the things you want to learn, and everything you want to experience – even if it’s just once. Remember to Dream Big!

Okay, I made a bucket list. Now what?

I made my first bucket list in 2006. In 2009, I revisited the the first list and then made a new one. What I found when I was reviewing the ’06 list is that I had accomplished some things, I still wanted to accomplish others, and some actually didn’t seem important to me anymore. That last part kind of surprised me, but then I think we change and grow over time, and likewise so do our interests and priorities.

Once you make your list, review it and see which ones are small or require little planning. Those might be the ones you tackle first. You can also divide your list into things you want to do now, and things you maybe aren’t quite ready to do. Even for your “now” things, that doesn’t mean you have to start planning for them all today. It might be good just to have them in the back of your mind, so when the opportunity arises, you can grab it.

Try to periodically review your bucket list. See what you’ve accomplished, and see what’s left. Like me, you might have some that aren’t as important to you, and you might want to add new ones. When you can, start making plans to see the big dreams come to fruition too. Putting them on your bucket list is a great starting point, but then you have to remember to make it happen too!

I can see from my 2009 list, it is time for me to make another. Some things I have accomplished (start a blog, run a 5K), some things are no longer on my radar (visit Australia, try ice fishing), and some are still on my “Someday” list, like observing oral arguments at the US Supreme Court and spending a weekend at a silent retreat.

I’d love to hear what’s on your bucket list! How long is it? What are your favorite ideas? And which one are you going to do first? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me at @onemoveforward. I would love to hear from you!

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. – John Lennon

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Take Care Of Your Brain! 4 Newest Ideas For Avoiding Memory Loss

 

There is a lot of recent research about how to ward off memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. The solution that comes up most often is keeping your brain active by making an ongoing effort to learn new things. One key notion that comes up in ALL research, though, is that whatever you do to keep your brain young, you have to put forth regular effort. You don’t want to wait until the later stages of your life to start implementing your strategies. Here are some details on the latest research, along with things you can do (and things you shouldn’t do) to reduce your risk of memory loss.

Active brains have fewer deposits of Alzheimer’s protein

A new study by Dr. William Jagust of the University of California, Berkeley was published earlier this year and indicates that people who challenge their brains throughout their lifetimes have fewer deposits of beta-amyloid, a destructive protein in the brain that has been linked with Alzheimer’s. Challenging your brain can be in any variety of forms, including reading, writing, playing games, and mastering puzzles.

In my previous post, Learn, Grow, Change: What’s Your Uncharted Territory?, I gave you several different ways you can expand on your current interests and find new hobbies. That is all this new study is advocating – just doing and learning something different. Even if you already do some of those things, it’s good for your brain to mix things up a bit. If you’re an avid reader, try your hand at journaling. If you like crossword puzzles, take a look at other word puzzles. I like the ones at usatoday.com. USA Today is my favorite crossword, but they also have lots of other word puzzles and games that will really exercise your brain. If you like the puzzles there, you might check out this book, USA TODAY Jumbo Puzzle Book 2: 400 Brain Games, which has a huge variety of USA Today puzzles – a great way to give your brain an all-around workout.

Overeating linked to memory loss

It may surprise you to learn that a new study released last month showed that people who overeat nearly double their risk of memory loss. The study’s author, Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, said the study’s conclusions showed, “the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI [Mild Cognitive Impairment]”. MCI is not normal memory loss that is associated with aging, but it is more serious memory loss that is the step before Alzheimer’s Disease.

Yet another reason to cut calories and maintain a healthy diet! If you are interested in ways to make your favorite foods healthier, see my article, The Wellness Burger: Tips To Turn Your Favorite Foods Into Healthy Choices. You can also learn more about how many calories you should consume using the Calorie Calculator tool at the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Dr. Geda’s study focused on senior citizens who consumed more than 2100 calories per day. They were the study participants who saw an increased risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment. It is never too early to create a healthier diet, though, and the calorie calculator can help you determine how many calories you should be getting per day, based on your age, height, weight, and other individual factors. It’s a great place to start to get a firm grasp on how much you should really be eating.

Sleeping more may protect you from memory loss

This is another surprising new study result that just came out in February. The study’s author, Yo-El Ju, M.D., from the University School of Medicine, St. Louis explained, “Disrupted sleep appears to be associated with the build-up of amyloid plaques,” which is a classic marker of Alzheimer’s Disease. This happened in the brains of people who otherwise had no memory problems. In other words, people that were presently having no problems, were having a build up of this plaque in their brains that may affect their memory and also their risk of Alzheimer’s – just from disrupted sleep!

The key here is not about whether you get enough sleep, but rather whether your sleep is disrupted. If you are someone who tosses and turns during the night, or if you wake up frequently, you may want to make some changes.

Try setting a lower temperature in your bedroom, since you need a lower body temperature in order to sleep. Also, make sure you use the restroom before going to sleep if you tend to wake up for that purpose. Make an effort to create a sleeping environment  that allows you to sleep deeply. Turn off alarm clocks with glaring lights, ringers on phones, and anything else that might disturb you. It’s not just about sleep, it’s about sleeping well!

Ward off dementia with a bilingual brain

A researcher from York University, Dr. Ellen Bialystok, found that being bilingual can also offer protection from the symptoms of dementia. One of her key findings was that the brain’s need to monitor two languages in order to select the appropriate one “exercises” brain regions that are vital for cognitive control (your ability to process information in a way that is adaptive to current goals, as opposed to staying rigid and inflexible). When those regions get exercised, they get strengthened, and a stronger brain is better equipped to keep dementia away.

If you already know two languages, that’s great! Try to make efforts to converse in both languages, so that your brain is continually challenged to apply a different language in different settings.

If you studied a foreign language in school, how much do you think you remember? You can pick up a book at the library to refresh your memory, or even use learnalanguage.com to learn new words and phrases. You may not become fluent, but any work you do to keep exercising your brain will help.

In many cities you can even find language clubs, where you can meet with others to practice your new skills. You can easily find these sorts of groups at meetup.com. There are different ways to work at learning a new language, and the more you use it, the stronger your brain will be.

Just writing this article has made me want to pick up crossword puzzles again! I rarely do them anymore, and I used to do them all the time. What about you? What changes might you make today to keep your brain young for years to come? Let me know your ideas in the comments!

Appreciating Art Is Good For Your Heart: 4 Ideas To Help You Love The Arts

Are you someone who enjoys the arts – music, paintings, or theater? A new study presented at the 12th Annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing in Copenhagen Denmark, showed that patients who had an appreciation for the arts recovered better from heart disease than those who did not. This particular research focused on stroke patients, and it found that “stroke survivors who saw art as an integrated part of their former lifestyle, by expressing appreciation towards music, painting and theatre, showed better recovery skills than those who did not,” according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Ercole Vellone.

Dr. Vellone’s study separated into two groups the stroke patients who had an appreciation for the arts from the patients who did not. Overwhelmingly, the art appreciators were better at healing and improving – they had better general health, found it easier to walk, and had more energy. Dr. Vellone’s understanding is that art may make long term changes to the brain that actually help it recover when things go wrong.

So what does this mean for you? Even if you are not into ballet or opera, there are many ways you can uncover your interests in the extensive range of activities that art encompasses. If you’re looking for something new to do on a Saturday night, why not broaden your artistic horizons? Use this guide, based on your current interests, to see which areas of the arts might interest you as well.

If you like listening to the music – You probably have a favorite radio station or two, or maybe a few favorite artists you depend on to lift your mood. If so, that’s great! But you can do more. Have you ever thought about trying a whole different genre of music? Don’t rule it out before you give it a chance. I, for one, have never been a fan of country music, but just last night I heard Lionel Richie (popular in the ’80s) has a new CD coming out, and it’s made up entirely of country music stars (including Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and Kenny Chesney) joining Richie to sing their favorite song of his with him. Interesting idea, huh? The album is called Tuskegee, and I think it just might make me give country music a chance (if just this once)! Is there any genre of music you might be willing to try – maybe just once?

If you like cooking – Why not take a baking class? Better yet, how about learning about cake decorating? Cooking and baking are creative processes in their own right – you are assembling ingredients to create a final product. But if you can incorporate decorating into your masterpieces too, you will be adding a little art into your life. If you’re looking for a place to start, there’s a book called Contemporary Cake Decorator’s Bible: Over 150 Techniques and 80 Stunning Projects that has tons of photos and also includes detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

If the only thing you can draw is stick people – That’s me! My mom has an incredible talent for drawing, as does my sister – but the gene skipped me completely. If you can’t draw but think you might like to learn, you have some options. Many art museums offer drawing classes on weekends. Some city recreational departments do too. You can also check local art associations and community colleges for classes.

If you don’t think an art class is your thing, even periodic visits to an art museum can help bring out your appreciation of art. You might not be able to draw, but you can probably appreciate people who can! There’s a lot more to art museums today than ancient paintings that are boring and stuffy. Check online for  your local modern art museum, or even look for galleries that feature a specific type of art you might like – ceramics, photography, glass – art is limitless, and finding something that interests you can be the beginning of a long term hobby of your own.

If you’re a fashionista – Fashion design is an area that is often overlooked in the world of art, but I find it endlessly fascinating. If you enjoy the latest trends or like to put together fun ensembles, try doing some reading about fashion history. There’s a wonderful two-book set of fashion history books called Fashion (Taschen 25th Anniversary) by the Kyoto Costume Institute that will keep you entranced for hours. Better yet, if you can find a fashion museum in your city, nothing beats seeing these works of art up close. It’s all about taking an art-related curiosity one step further.

I hope this gave you some inspiration to start looking for – and appreciating – the art around you. Dr. Vellone’s study led him to understand that art appreciation leads to better quality of life overall, and that’s something we can all appreciate!

What kind of art do you enjoy most? In what ways do you nurture that interest? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and you can also find me at @onemoveforward on twitter!




 

Build Critical Thinking Skills: The 3 Questions To Always Ask Yourself

 

The ability to think critically is an important part of your intellectual wellness. With critical thinking, you build your ability to see things differently by examining your (and people’s) thoughts and judgments on any topic. Why is that important? Well, it’s as simple as not believing everything you hear – and maybe not anything you hear. You become aware of (and take control of) your own thinking, which leads you to be able to better define your own thoughts and opinions.

Your goal is to make sure that your beliefs are really your own, not simply ones that are passed on to you by others. Whether someone states an opinion or fact, or if you are reading a book or magazine or even an advertisement, with critical thinking, you will be less easily manipulated, and you will think more independently.

When you think critically, you learn about new things based on your own experiences and what you know to be true. You create your own beliefs and judgments and have a basis for thinking and acting more rationally and reasonably. You also protect yourself from being taken advantage of because logic and deductive reasoning insulates you.

You want to form your own opinions, as opposed to just going with what others think. To do that, listen/see/read with an open mind, and start with these three tips when faced with any opinion or statement of fact:

1. What’s the speaker’s purpose? Pay attention to what the speaker’s true purpose is, and that will help you decide how to assess his statements. Is he trying to convince you of something? Does he want you to believe his opinion is true? Is he trying to get you to accept a fact? Maybe he is making a statement as if it is a fact, when it is actually an opinion. Once you get a better grasp of the speaker’s goal, you know if you should question his statements.

2. What assumptions does the speaker want you to make? Whatever the speaker is trying to tell you or convince you of, ask yourself: Is there a basis for his opinion? Is it even logical? Is it plausible? Think about a commercial for laundry detergent where the voice-over says, “Now with Kleen Krystals that get out the toughest stains!” The advertiser wants you to make the assumption that Kleen Krystals are made up of an extra strong substance that’s good at stain-removal. But that’s a pretty big assumption, since you don’t even know what a Kleen Krystal is! So when the advertiser tries to convince you that the detergent is even stronger now because of the Krystals, the critical thinker in you realizes there really is no basis for that opinion, there’s no logical explanation that convinces you what he is saying is true, and you aren’t going to make the assumptions he wants you to make.

3. What’s the evidence? Evidence answers the question, “How do you know?”, and that’s a question that a critical thinker always wants answered. Is there any evidence to support the speaker’s opinion? Is the evidence complete? Is it believable? With any information you get from any source, it’s a great critical thinking exercise to ask how the speaker knows what he is saying is true – and keep asking it, even when you get your first answer.

When someone tells you something as fact, ask how he knows that to be true. Because someone told him? Well, how did that person know? Because she read it in a book? Well, how did the author of that book know? Because he read it in a study? Well, who wrote the study? You get the idea.

Asking yourself these three questions helps you to clarify your own thinking. The more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. Once you are in the habit of questioning what you see, read, and hear – consider yourself a critical thinker! Then try to apply your new skill when you’re in these situations:

When someone is telling you something about someone else – Do you know what she is saying is true, or is that just her interpretation of that person? If you and your friends tend to gossip about others, try to use it as an opportunity to work on your critical thinking skills. Realize that one person’s opinion isn’t fact, and that when someone relates something about someone else, her opinion of that event is just that – her opinion. It’s always much better to form your opinion about someone based on your own observations and interactions.

When you are watching a commercial on TV – Think about the characteristics of the product that the advertiser is trying to sell you on. A food that tastes better? Only you know what tastes better to you. A car that handles better? Your car handles just fine. A household cleaning product that wipes out more germs? The products you use clean your house just fine! You get the idea – watching television commercials are a great way to hone your critical thinking skills because they are always trying to convince you of something, and it’s easy to spot the parts you should be questioning.

When you are reading a news article – It’s a little tougher to practice your critical thinking skills when reading a news article, because your assumption might be that news outlets should be unbiased. But that’s what makes this a great exercise. Go to washingtonpost.com or nytimes.com and pick a news article. Skim through it and ask yourself how much of that is fact and how much of it is opinion based on fact. For the part that you think is fact, think about whether the columnist has first-hand knowledge or if the facts came from someone else. Obviously news columnists won’t always be present at the time a news event is happening, but that might help you realize how important it is to question what you are reading, even if it does seemingly come from an unbiased source.

To be fair, I sometimes read columnists who I know will have a particular slant on a topic, but I go into it knowing the columnist has that bias. It’s certainly okay to read something you know to be biased, as long as you are aware of it and always try to remember to question what you are reading.

Thinking critically means you don’t just accept something at face value. Instead of letting something answer a question for you, you question the answer. Critical thinking can be learned at any age, it just means you approach facts differently. What do you think of your own critical thinking skills?  Do you think you have areas in which you can improve? Try the questioning approach above, and let me know how it works!

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Learn, Change, Grow: What’s Your Uncharted Territory?

Learn, grow, change: What’s your uncharted territory?

Absolutely everyone has the capacity to change, learn, evolve, and grow. And there are so many reasons you should nurture your intellectual development – to make new connections with other people and ideas, get a better understanding of yourself (what you believe and why), renew your mind and spirit, and even escape conformity – just to name a few. Getting to know yourself and others better can then help you to redefine your own creativity, passions, and purpose.

Committing to lifetime growth by creating and satisfying your curiosity about life means you won’t get stagnated in the status quo, you will never be on the downward trajectory of your life, and you just might fulfill your destiny. When you are open to learning, are receptive to new ideas and change, and you allow your mind and heart to grow, you will keep you and your journey relevant, interesting, challenging and forever young. So where do you start? Here are five areas to explore that can help you continue to evolve:

1. Grow Do you have a skill you learned earlier in your life that you would like to build on? Maybe something you started learning, but you stopped earlier than you wanted to because other things took up your time? Building on previously-learned skills are a good starting point to help you grow more now. I studied piano when I was in grade school, and I always loved it, but now I haven’t played in years. About 10 years ago, a friend taught me to crochet, and I still have an unfinished scarf in the back of my closet. And I’d really like to finish it, if I could just remember how to do it! If you think back (even far back) over the course of your life, what are some things you have learned that you would like to pick up again? Something you already know gives you pleasure is a great starting point for your foray into intellectual growth.

2. Learn – What is something you have always been curious about but never had time to explore? Building websites? Learning Spanish? Brewing your own beer? When you want to learn something completely new to you, it is easy to put it on the back burner in your already busy life. So start small. Look into a class you can take, dig around on the internet for online classes, or just go to a bookstore and look at the books on your topic. My guess is that once you take the first small step in something you have always wanted to learn, it won’t be long until you get excited and energized by the possibility of exploring your interest even further.

3. Pursue – What’s your big dream that seems so crazy that you wouldn’t even know where to start? Opening your own restaurant? Traveling around the world? Moving to a new city? Pursuing a dream is a great way to experience intellectual growth. I have a friend who is an educator and is now getting very close to taking a bold step to leave her job and go into business for herself (you can read her blog here). I have another friend who is pursuing her dream to make a film. Although she didn’t know a tremendous amount about filmmaking at the start, she is learning a lot along the way! If you don’t think you can drop everything to pursue your dream, that’s okay – just start small. Begin with the research, planning, or budgeting of your dream. Talk to others who have pursued similar dreams. Outline the steps that would get you from where you are today to actually seeing that dream realized. Your small steps can take you far, and with the momentum that builds, your ultimate dream might not be as far away as you thought!

4. Contribute – Another path to intellectual growth is contribution to society. If you’ve never volunteered in your community before, now is a great time to start! Think about your interests, concerns, and values to try to determine where you would like to volunteer. Aspiring actors can volunteer to be ushers at the theater, animal lovers can walk dogs at the local shelter, and political buffs can work for local campaigns. Or, use your volunteer work to learn about something completely new. If you are interested in home maintenance projects, you might be able to pick up some skills by volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. If you want to learn about the environment, look for volunteer opportunities at your local nature center. Not sure where to start? VolunteerMatch will help you find opportunities based on your location and the type of work you would like to do.

5. Enjoy – What activities give you pure pleasure, but also afford the opportunity to keep learning? Think about your favorite pastimes, and you might find some answers. Books, travel, documentaries, the internet, museums – each offer endless ways to learn, grow, and see new things. Activities that give you pure pleasure are hobbies that you absolutely must indulge. If time is your obstacle, try scheduling it into your calendar. If money is tight, you can visit a library for movies, swap books with a friend, or explore a free local museum. Be careful not to let day-to-day responsibilities keep you from your favorite sources of “self-evolution.”

Lifetime growth means you are always learning and evolving. It keeps you from getting stuck, and it helps you better understand your inner self and uncover your passions. Make the commitment to keep learning, and you’ll know fulfillment like never before.

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” – Goethe

What are your interests, and what are you excited to pursue? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and please share this article if you know someone who might enjoy it!

Wellness and Life Balance – What is it, and where do I get it? Part II

In yesterday’s post, we talked about the first three dimensions of wellness – social, physical, and emotional. Today I’ll explain the last four, which are career, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual.

Career wellness (or occupational wellness) is about finding work that is fulfilling to you, while also maintaining balance between work and the other parts of your life. When you want to make an impact in your career, you make an impact in the organization where you work, and then in turn you make an impact on society.  The impact can be positive or negative, and the best way to make a positive impact is to find work that you find fulfilling. In future posts, we’ll discuss how to find a career in which you gain satisfaction, unique ways to make a positive impact in your place of employment (and the effects that can have), and new ideas on balancing a demanding job with the other important parts of your life.

Intellectual wellness covers a lot of ground. Part of it is being open to new ideas and experiences. When you have the desire to take on unfamiliar challenges, learn new concepts, and improve your skills, you can move toward intellectual wellness. Critical thinking is also a component of intellectual wellness – when you examine your own thinking and judgments (and those of others), you build your ability to see things differently. We’ll talk more about how to keep an open mind, how to challenge yourself when you feel stuck in an old rut, and how to build on past experiences to learn in new ways.

Environmental wellness is the process of making positive choices relating to your impact on resources such as air, land, water, and energy. Positive environmental choices will contribute to sustaining or improving quality of life for people, animals, and plants. I look forward to talking about how to limit toxins, chemicals, and pollution. We’ll also talk about food safety, how to make a positive environmental impact, and anti-consumption movements.

Spiritual wellness is not about religion or how to live your life according to your religion. Regardless of whether you believe in a specific organized religion, you can move toward spiritual wellness by working on discovering your meaning and purpose in life, identifying values that are important to you, and then behaving in ways that are reflective of those values. These skills will help you develop peace and harmony in your life. We’ll talk more about calling on your personal belief system to help cope with both daily hassles and life crises, how to use your values and beliefs to elicit a relaxation response, and how to let go of worries, pain and stress to focus instead on hopefulness and satisfaction.

That’s it – you now know the seven dimensions of wellness. As you work on balancing all seven, think about what you are working toward. The highest and most important goal of your wellness journey is to attain peace – inner peace. And, in the words of The Dalai Lama,

“Without inner peace, it is impossible to have world peace.”

Let me know your thoughts about career, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual wellness in the comments! What areas do you want to work on?