Healthy & Happy Life

I have been researching and reading studies on what helps people to lead the happiest and healthiest lives for many years and have narrowed it down to 3 core areas: Physical, Mental, and Emotional. See below for how I organize my life and to see what I have found to work best:

  • Physical – this is most important to overall well-being
    • Nutrition / Diet / Food
      • Shop for food when you are not hungry and try to buy more healthy food than you will probably eat. The best way to avoid cravings for bad food is to stay full of good food. You also want to make it easy to eat something healthy – make a big batch of food early in the week, refrigerate it, and eat it over the next few days. Keep healthy snack options on hand like bananas or apples.
      • Eat as many vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds as you can
      • If you eat meat, try to have more chicken (especially thighs) and fish. Try to have less red meats, and especially avoid processed red meats like sausage or pepperoni.
      • Never eat processed sugars, especially sugary drinks like soda or juice (juice is bad for you)
      • Don’t get on any short term diet… try to find foods you are happy eating for years. Crash diets will usually cause you to lose weight for a month or two, then you will put back on more weight than you had before.
      • Caffeine & alcohol & other drugs… remember these are short term loans that you will have to pay back with interest. Caffeine just makes you feel more productive, you are not actually more productive. Then you will have a mild caffeine hangover which makes focusing harder. Alcohol can be really fun for a short time, but the hangover is almost always much more painful than the extra joy you got from the alcohol.
    • Exercise / Sports / Activities
      • Find fun physical activities you enjoy…. Hiking, walks, bicycling, pickup basketball, rock climbing, running, frisbee, ping pong… whatever it is, and try to do it as often as you can. It’s easier to stick with a workout you like and look forward to, even if it is not as intense as lifting weights in a gym or running on a treadmill.
      • Set goals for yourself. Maybe it is just walk one more block each day than you did the day before, or do one more pushup than you did the day before.
      • While working, try to spend a minute or so looking around each hour. Every couple of hours, stand up and walk around, maybe do some pushups. At lunch, go for a walk. Use a standing desk to work part of the day.
      • Try to do at least one bigger physical activity a week… spend a few hours walking around an area or going on a hike.
  • Emotional
    • Call a loved one each day… family member or friend. I have a 10 minute daily drive to work and make a call to someone on my way to work each day and my way home (mostly my grandparents in the morning since they are the only ones that pick up that early lol).
    • Get a significant other. Humans are social / tribal creatures and we need our fellows around us. A significant other can provide significant stability and help you live a much healthier life overall. Be very careful who you pick though… if you fight often (more than once a week) or fight badly (escalation), that is a big red flag. Pick someone who is stable and supportive and nice to you.
    • Spend time with friends regularly. I rock climb with friends three times a week. Once a week I’ll have lunch with a client or friend or someone like that. If you want to have a longer lunch break once a week to meet someone, that is fine as long as you get all your hours in that day and don’t miss any meetings or anything.
    • Don’t have a long commute. The single biggest factor in quality of life according to many studies is the length of your commute. The farther you drive each day, the less happy you are. You lose many hours of productive / fun things if you commute. Remember you hang out with friends / family 2-3x a week during nontraffic times, you go to work 5 days a week when everone else is trying to do the same thing.
    • Live within your means. Make a budget and put at least 10% each month into a savings account. Pay off your credit cards in full every single month. Pay down debt as quickly as you can. Don’t take on new debt for a car.
    • Write down something you are grateful for each day. Studies show over time this practice rewires your brain to be more optimistic and happy
  • Mental
    • Try to learn something new each day. A foreign language, a programming language, read a nonfiction book,
    • Avoid television. Video games are okay because they are more engaging.
    • Find personal projects you are interested in doing… gardening, a construction project, a website, etc. and pursue these.
    • No screens (phone, television, computer, tablet) an hour before bed. Kindle or books are okay.
    • Try to go to bed early. Sleep at least 8 hours a day (or just lay in bed for that time without your phone if you cant sleep, eventually you will train your body)

Remote work secrets:

General tips:

  • Track what you do each day. Even if you don’t accomplish your goals, just write it down. I use a Google Sheet for this with a row for each day and a column for each major item I want to track, but you could use a notebook or whatever works best for you.

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Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.

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