As fires cause fatalities across the West Coast days after honoring our fallen veterans, at home I’m faced with death as well. My grandmother, at the age of 90, passed away over the weekend and I’m writing this on her funeral day.
While reflecting, I’m finding death becomes a measuring stick for our lives, and how well we lived. This includes our physical and financial condition, as well as our overall mental and emotional health. But wellness also includes an aspect often overlooked: Living well includes participation with others, contribution to society and people we care about, and ultimately how well we loved.
By these terms, my grandmother lived very well. During her last days, she was eager to run into the arms of her maker, not from pain but because she had run this race, we call life, well. Just ask anyone who knew her. She was a blessing, and her gift will live on forever.
So, if life insurance is really about helping the death process, then I think “death insurance” would help us with the life — or wellness — process. Therefore wellness becomes like death insurance.
I don’t mean to be morbid at all. Rather, this is a call for wellness. We all have the same fate awaiting us, and all have the same ability to love others genuinely, to be available for others, and able to serve. We also have the same basic abilities to perform at a high level, whether in the classroom, on the courts or in business. If it’s all for selfish gain, then I can tell you it’s not worth it. To make life count, some things may need to change. In order to do this, we have to stop and take account of how well we’re doing in the first place. Is there anything holding us back from living truly well?
What does living well look like?
To answer this, you must prioritize what matters and move that direction. This becomes the start of your own wellness plan or journey, aka death insurance, in which you, as well as those around you, become the beneficiaries for generations to come. (I discuss more about this concept of learning to live well in my new book coming out on January, No More Weed In Our House.)
However, before we can help others, we must help our selves. Life is meant to be lived to the full, which requires a healthy mind, body and soul.
Addictions steal these opportunities with lies. But wellness is the solution. That’s why I’m devoting the next phase my professional career to helping people out of the addictions and recovery cycle and into a wellness journey for life.
When my day comes, I hope my life will be measured not by the numbers on a balance sheet, but by people who have been touched with my message and have been inspired to change for good.
Don’t let death insurance scare you. Embrace wellness, and let your life show it. It’s worth it.
I never fought in a war with guns and grenades, so I can only imagine the toll it can take on the human mind, body and soul. Facing death daily is traumatic, regardless which side you’re on. The military is no place for the faint of heart, and I cannot be grateful enough for the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifice, emotional and physical scars experienced by those following orders.
No wonder, our own Veteran’s Administration admits that thousands of returning veterans of war complain of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. At home, we can only imagine the traumas, but these courageous men and women know the trauma because it affects them every day.
No, I don’t have PTSD, but my son does. He didn’t serve in the military, when he was traumatized. He was much younger than that. Traumas leave scars that don’t just cover the problem, it propagates the problem in other ways.
Like my son, which you’ll hear much more about in my new book coming out in January, veterans bring home traumas that leave lasting impressions. Violence is a powerful emotional act that can trigger memories, sounds and feelings virtually immediately. It can feel like walking on thin ice all the time.
Unfortunately, treating PTSD is a moving target. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, concentration problems, disrupted sleep, irritability can all be related to PTSD. But these symptoms could also be from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), or another condition. Therefore, misdiagnosis is common, and leaves our decorated heroes without many answers.
So they drink. Or they get stoned, or take pain medication or self-medicate some other way to cope with the horrific past. According to the National Center for PTSD, 1 out of 5 veterans who suffer from PTSD develop a substance-abuse disorder. And the Department of Veterans Affairs reports of all veterans, 1 out of 10 face drug and alcohol problems. The top reason reported? PTSD.
Battling PTSD is like war itself. You never know the outcome, and it tends to linger much longer than you’d like. With my son, we’ve made a ton of progress, but his traumatic past, although not military related, continues to scar his heart and mind. He’s healing, but I can tell you from personal experience, PTSD can make people do crazy things.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Addiction may be the issue, but wellness is the solution. I believe PTSD can benefit from sobriety, living out a healthy lifestyle, and treating yourself and health seriously. It’s a different kind of war, but in this case, the only thing you stand to lose, is a few pounds. And, you may gain clarity of mind in the process. But a new lifestyle is not enough.
Solving your addiction, and related PTSD, is a highly personalized condition. I hope you can find a specialist that can honestly serve your needs. God knows our veterans deserve it, but so do many others who suffer from traumatic pasts.
I salute the veterans. And, I salute a new battle: The Wellness War.
When I drink, I get wired like I’m high on cocaine. Bad things happen. Relationships suffer, priorities change and poor decisions result in really bad hangovers. I’ve already been through the years of spiking my orange juice with vodka, draining my life right down with every bottle.
So you don’t have to tell me that alcohol is bad. But fortunately, a new super-sized study from the scientists affiliated with the University of Washington in Seattle confirmed alcohol is bad for your health. Max Griswold, the lead author on the study, published in The Lancet--August issue, summarized the results like this:
“We found that there isn’t really any benefit of drinking to your health,” he said. “And that the safest level, from a health perspective, is not drinking at all.”
The study, considered secondary research using a meta-analysis of nearly 600 published studies, 700 sources of data on people’s drinking habits from 195 countries from 1990 to 2016 involving 28 million people. That’s a good sample size and examination for me, even if I hadn’t tested the Spirits myself.
Yet, seemingly annually, a new study finds some reason to justify drinking red wine for your heart. But Griswold’s study concludes that despite a slight chance of minimal positive health benefit for the heart, this gorilla-sized study outweighs whatever you were hoping for with every sip. For example, how could alcohol be good, when it accounted for nearly 3 million deaths in 2016, making it the 7th leading risk factor of death?
The real problem, Griswold says, is the amount of consumption.*
“People are probably drinking more than they realize, and it’s harming our health,” he said, referencing research that shows we’re terrible at estimating our alcoholic beverage count. “We could all serve to drink a little bit less. And it would save lives.”
When I think about how much I drank, I’m obviously concerned about my internal operating systems. It’s been a wellness journey, with daily steps towards becoming my best self. I invite you to make the same decision. Start, or re-start in most cases, a wellness journey by abstaining from the good stuff, cold beers and champagne celebrations. You’ll find they’ve been weighing you down, not helping you out.
Being mindful can be a hard thing to grasp for a lot of people. It is easy for your mind to start wandering into thoughts of the future, or thinking about events that happened in the past. With mindfulness, you must learn to live in the present and enjoy the moments that come across your path. Many people get stressed very easily, or lose sight of what is very important to them. When stuff like this happens, you have to be mindful and take control of yourself and what you are doing. You cannot worry about what will happen tomorrow, or next year. Being mindful will help you enjoy life more, appreciate your friends and family, and make you aware of the little things in life that you may have been missing. There are five very important things you must do in order to be mindful of yourself.
First, you must do one thing at a time. Its understandable to want to get things done and multitask, but sometimes you really need to put all your focus on one thing. If you’re going to take a relaxing bath, don’t bring your laptop in the bathroom so you can get stuff done. Enjoy the moment that you’re in right now, and indulge yourself in whatever it is you’re doing. If you’re doing one thing at a time, you will be more focused and less stressed.
Second, do things slowly. A lot of times people want to rush in order to get more stuff done, but sometimes that isn’t what you should be doing. You need to be able to plan out what you are doing each day, and do just those things. Do not rush to do them, and give yourself enough time to complete the tasks you need. If you have a pile of work to complete, do not try to do it all in one day. Take your time, and be mindful of the things around you. Doing things quickly takes away from the efficiency of the task. If you do it fast, it might not necessarily be as good as it could be if you did it slow. This can apply to situations that may not even be work related. For example, when you’re eating. Many people will eat very fast in order to get back to whatever they were doing before they got hungry. Sometimes it is best to just eat slow, take your time, and enjoy the moment.
Third, stop worrying about the future. This is one thing I want to really stress. Sometimes, no matter what point you are at in your life, you want to be in a different spot. It’s easy to image what your life is going to be like in five or ten years, if you’ll be married, if you’ll have kids, even if you’ll be working in the same job. It can be very stressful to think about the future because sometimes it affects what you are doing in the present. The best way to stop stressing about the future is to stop thinking about it. Focus on what you are doing, what memories you are making now, and enjoying the moment as it comes. If you are constantly worrying about the future, there is no way to live in the present.
Fourth, be a good talker and a good listener. Sometimes, especially in the modern day, it is hard to be present when we are having conversations with people. If we are sitting with friends, they might be on their phones while their listening to you speak, or thinking about something else. This can really hurt people. In order t be mindful, you have to be present. Do not let your mind roam during other people’s conversations. Open your ears, listen closely, and give good advice. You can help people simply by listening to them, so put your phones down, and put your thoughts away while others are speaking. Focus on the person you are with and the time that you have with that person.
Fifth, enjoy the little things in life. Sometimes it is hard to be happy with the little things in life when there are so many people with bigger things. You have to appreciate everything you see and every moment that life gives you. For example, one thing I always savor is the sight of the mood lit up in the night sky. When I see the moon, I think about how amazing life is and how something so small in the sky can make me so happy. This is how you can become mindful. You need to understand that things such as nature, family, and simple things can make you the happiest person in the world. Little moments like laughing so hard until your stomach hurts, staring up at the starry night sky together, or talking about memories from the past, can make you realize how lucky you are to live the life you have. Enjoy everything that comes your way in life and with that, you will be mindful.