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The Pursuit of Vitality

Vitality is an under appreciated asset. It’s not something that we think about since happiness gets all of the attention. While happiness is important, vitality is what makes you feel alive. Most people that feel depressed or are on an unsuccessful pursuit of happiness, don’t realize what they’re lacking. It’s not happiness, it’s vitality.

When you look back on some of your happier seasons in life, it was probably your vitality that made it that way. Happiness is the result of living with vitality.

What is Vitality?

What comes to my mind is a fire for life. Something that you feel physically — energy and strength. Vitality is characterized by living life like an adventure with excitement and enthusiasm. You’re ready to face challenges and put your full force of energy into the day.

Here’s the dictionary definition: “the state of being strong and active; energy” “the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things”

It’s a state of being. Do you have that state? That zest for life?

Who are some people that come to mind when you think of vitality? I think of the pioneers and Lewis and Clarke. Those people demonstrated an insane level of vitality to explore early America. Theodore Roosevelt is another person of History that exhibited extreme vitality. He was a president of the United States but he was extremely active – a boxer, a hunter, he explored the Amazon and almost died. His accomplishments as a politician, writer, hunter, outdoorsmen indicate a zest for life.

In my life, it’s looked like working out, playing sports, seeing friends and family, doing exciting things, hiking and camping. It’s a full day, it’s nonstop energy and activity throughout the day. It starts in the morning and goes until it’s time for bed. I have a desire to live life to the fullest and experience as much as I can. It’s not all about physical activities though, mental activities like reading, writing, and thinking deeply are also characteristic. Vitality also provides the energy to put into your relationships. It gives you the energy for so many of the important things in your life.

Roadblocks to Vitality

Our modern world makes vitality hard to achieve. The biggest roadblocks to vitality are poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and chronic stress.

First, let’s look at diet and lifestyle. Are you eating fast food often? Not sleeping much? No consistent bedtime and wake up time? Drinking alcohol late into the night? Constantly worrying about your future? Sitting inside all day? Not exercising?

We need to change these things before we do anything else. Move your body. Spent time outside in nature. According to the EPA, the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. This breaks down to 87% indoors and 6% in cars. That leaves only 7% of your entire life outdoors. There’s something incredibly wrong with this.

Go to bed earlier and get more sleep. Start cooking at home with vegetables. Stop drinking so much damn coffee. You don’t need all of that crap. It’s a crutch. Cut your consumption down to 1 cup of coffee a day if you really want to have it. It’s important that you get your energy up naturally, not artificially with coffee. Coffee will you give the illusion that you have a lot of energy and vitality because it’s a stimulant. But once it’s left your bloodstream, you crash and need another cup to stay up.

Do more of this:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Drink more water
  • Exercise (Outside)
  • Get sunlight
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • Spend time in nature (walks, runs, hikes, anything)
  • Social sports (tennis, soccer, golf etc)

Do less of this:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Stressing and worrying
  • Eating fast food
  • Sitting all day and night
  • Spending all day inside
  • Watching several hours of TV a day
  • Endless social media scrolling

After one week, you’ll notice a big difference in how you feel. You’ll feel more clearheaded and focused. It’s amazing what simple changes to diet and lifestyle can do for vitality.

What about stress?

Chronic stress is a silent killer. It will affect your mental health and physical health if you don’t get it under control. But how to do you mitigate the negative affects of stress?

The easiest and probably the most effective way — spending time in nature. Exposure to nature is a form of medicine. As humans we have a hardwired relationship with nature, but modern civilization has isolated us further from nature.

Ancient philosophers, poets, and early doctors intuitively knew that in order to relieve anxiety and stress, nature was a powerful tonic.

We’re at our highest rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide rates and simultaneously outdoors less than ever before. There seems to be a direct cause. More time inside and on our computers, less time outside.

Our lives in the city are stressful — the noises, the commuting, the traffic, the pollution, being indoors all the time without a lot of natural beauty around us. This stress weakens the brain and makes it susceptible to depression and anxiety.

Wilderness is a necessity… there must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls… – John Muir

Whatever it is you have to do to get outside more, do it! If it’s gardening, do it. If it’s cycling, do it. If it’s walking, do it. Find some woods and going walking through it. I promise you more time outside and surrounded by trees and water, will do wonders for relieving stress and anxiety.

Love your life

Do you want to feel that fire burning in your heart to live fully and live like life is as an adventure? Or how about the emotional strength to face serious internal and external pressure? Vitality is the bedrock for living a good life (whatever you have determined that to be). Vitality is an excellent marker of your physical and psychological well-being. The likelihood that a couch potato who works a stressful job is living with vitality is slim to none. What’s crazy is that there are things that person could do to turn it around. They could change all of those things and watch their life begin to fill with vitality.

When you’re struck by vitality everything changes. Your perspective and attitude become more optimistic and resilient. You don’t give up as easily. You have faith that things will work out. You’re more present and more helpful to those around you. Vitality is that one thing that will consistently make you love your life.

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