The Office is Where Your Laptop Is

The Office is Where Your Laptop Is

The Office Is Where Your Laptop Is.

The Office Is Where Your Laptop Is

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

Similarly to the migration of retail to online, COVID has provoked a transition of thinking about where team members actually need to physically be in order to do their job well.

As we adjust our perceptions of what work looks like post COVID, there exists a gulf between what was and what will be when it comes to office geography.

Companies have already begun divesting themselves of offices and buildings they formally saw as essential in order to house their workforce. Conference rooms lie dormant and have been replaced by Zoom calls. The office phone system has similarly been replaced by cell phones, text messages and FaceTime.

I am familiar with this decentralized workspace, having personally spent many years on the road, working from airport lounges, toting a portable printer, relying on my trusty laptop and the internet to keep my work flowing, and presence felt by clients across a variety of timezones. I appreciate the benefits of being mobile and also the downside of these sometimes very isolated environments.

This is the dilemma companies face as they approach a more fractured workplace.

The benefits are proven for many roles to be fulfilled from home or a remote coworking space. Equally, there are many challenges that come with this dispersion of talent and team.

As such, companies, managers, team members and family units are all trying to adjust their expectations in this new work environment.

For companies, the possible financial upside of not maintaining the same degree of physical premises to house their team can be significant. Associated costs involved in supporting team members at home are typically a fraction of the cost of maintaining significant office infrastructure. The lost productivity associated with commutes alone offer a boon to companies.

This regained segment of team members’ days can be parlayed into spending more time with family and for recreation, which has proven benefits both physically and psychologically.

  • Prior to COVID, 20% of team members that could work remotely worked from home.

  • This number spiked to 71% in the Fall of 2020.

  • 54% of these team members would prefer to work from home going forward.

For many team members, the added flexibility of working remotely can be life changing. Similarly, for some, it can be very challenging.

Herein lies the challenge that exists for managers and HR teams. As with many things, what suits one team member may well not suit another.

Myers Briggs would suggest that strong extroverts gain energy from being around other people, whereas strong introverts need alone time, or time with a limited number of people, to recharge. For the extroverts on your team, working from home may feel like a prison sentence. For your introverts, their productivity might improve as a function of reduced demand to be engaged with people during their workday.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to navigating dispersed working environments.

Much has been written around these issues and topics, but the relative newness of these changes in expectations and functions make it a challenging environment for companies, managers and teams.

I have been working with several companies to re-tool their work environments and as conversations and revelations emanate from these processes, it is evident to me that this needs to be an organic process and the many conundrums presented by this upheaval will not be solved overnight, or in a vacuum.

By engaging managers, department heads, team members, and even family members in the conversation, finding the sweet spot for your company and team may not be as elusive as it appears.

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How to Improve Your Quality of Life by 33% Today

How to Improve Your Quality of Life by 33% Today

How to Improve Your Quality of Life by 33% Today

introduction | how to improve your quality of life by 33 percent today

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author, speaker and wellness expert. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

Please note that I do NOT receive any compensation for product recommendations I make in this article. My recommendations are purely based on personal experience and are not commissioned.

I touched on the importance of sleep as it relates to Mindful Leadership in my article, “Three Foundations & The First Step Toward Mindful Leadership.”  As I explained in that piece, quality sleep is one of the central foundations of optimal physical and emotional health, yet it is underrated by some and elusive for many. 

As with many things, getting great sleep can be a process.  

The first step in this process is truly understanding and appreciating the importance of sleep to our health and emotional wellbeing.

In a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that subjects who averaged only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for a week felt more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted. Mood shifts and the added stress of sleep deprivation can in turn exacerbate the issue, and many people find themselves in an ever-tightening spiral to mental and emotional exhaustion. Not to mention that chronic insomnia can develop into a clinical mood disorder. 

Researchers at UC Berkeley have also shown that sleep deprivation negatively impacts the regions of the brain that help you understand people’s underlying motivations and intentions. This can significantly impact your capacity for empathy and relationships can be further strained when these filters are not in place. 

The process of improving the quality and/or quantity of your sleep can start by doing an inventory of your sleep habits, sleep environment, and reviewing your exercise and nutritional status. Run through the inventory below to see where you should focus your efforts in order to improve your sleep outcomes. 

Current Sleep Status:

Do you:

  1.     Get an average of 49-56 hours of sleep per week (7-8 hours per night)?
  2.     Fall asleep in 30 minutes or less?
  3.     Wake up no more than once per night?
  4.     Sleep in a cool, dark and quiet environment?
  5.     Sleep on a high quality mattress and pillow?
  6.     Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time, most days?
  7.     Avoid screen time before going to bed?
  8.     Limit your activities in bed to sleep and sex?
  9.     Limit your daytime naps to an ‘as needed’ basis?
  10.   Limit food intake in the 4 hours before going to sleep?
  11.  Avoid caffeine consumption after mid-afternoon?
  12.  Avoid alcohol, marijuana or nicotine use 4+ hours before going to bed?
  13.  Exercise at a reasonable intensity most days?
  14.  Get some sunshine most days?
  15.  Have the ability to calm your mind before trying to fall asleep?

If you answered ’Yes’ to all or most of these questions, you likely have a great handle on the many elements of great sleep. 

If you answered ‘No’ to 5 or more of these questions, there is a very real potential to improve the quality of your sleep.

If you answered ‘No’ to 10 or more of these questions, implementing some changes in your sleep routine will no doubt bring some significant gains.

When seeking great sleep, no single thing typically tips the scales in your favor. Often, it is a process of refinement. My advocacy is to always go for the easy stuff first, or the ‘low hanging fruit’.  So after reviewing the above list, what are the easiest challenges that you could tackle first? If you’ve picked something you’re open to working on, go to the relevant section below to see if any of the insights or tips may help you on this first step of your journey to improve your sleep patterns.

healthy sleep | how to improve your quality of life by 33 percent today
1. Are you getting an average of 49-56 hours of sleep per week?

Sleep experts have determined that getting an average of 7-8 hours of sleep a night is optimal.

In turn, if you miss some sleep, try to supplement with a little extra when you can, because there is a cumulative benefit. The amount of sleep needed can vary based on age; newborns need up to 20 hours a day and infants need 14 or more hours daily. Kids 5-12 need an average of 10 hours of daily sleep and teens need ideally 9 hours of sleep daily. Interestingly, teens need a different window of sleep to adults. Recent research determined that teens’ production of melatonin begins a couple of hours after ours, and that sure does explain a few things.

Are you getting an average of 49-56 hours of sleep per night?
2. Do you fall asleep in 30 minutes or less?

I used to think that because I could fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, that was a good thing. Apparently, not necessarily. Falling asleep immediately can be a sign of physical and/or mental exhaustion or even a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, because the quality of your sleep may be impaired and you’re accumulating a deficit of sleep.

Experts say that it should ideally take 5 to 15 minutes to fall asleep. If it takes much more than 20-30 minutes, this may be a sign of insomnia. 

Oftentimes, we go to bed and our mind is still more active than it should be in order to fall asleep. Maybe we just turned off the TV or put down the phone. Or maybe we’re recounting the events of the day and are pondering the imponderables? Regardless, it is incredibly important to be able to calm your mind and that can best be supported by your mindfulness practices. If you meditate before bed or use a breathing technique to shift your focus, it can be a great way to slow your roiling mind. I cover these options in more detail in point 15.

Do you fall asleep in 30 minutes or less?
3. Do you wake up no more than once per night?

Items 4 through 15 on this list can assist on this point, however other factors might be at play.

If you’ve had too much fluid before going to bed, that can be a factor.

I haven’t dived into hydration as yet, but I am a big advocate of drinking plenty of water throughout the day and if your body is well hydrated through conscious hydration throughout the day, you shouldn’t need to rehydrate last thing at night.

Other health issues may be impacting your sleep and these can range from urinary tract infections to an overactive bladder. According to the Mayo Clinic, undiagnosed or untreated, type 1 or type 2 diabetes could also be a factor. If you have too much sugar in your bloodstream, your body is forced to extract fluid from your tissues. This in turn makes you thirsty and may prompt you to drink prior to going to bed and disrupt your sleep.

Do you sleep in a cool, dark and quiet environment?
4. Do you sleep in a cool, dark and quiet environment?

Does this sound like a cave-like setting? Not quite, but this does hark back to our primordial days.

Our bodies’ sleep patterns are still attuned to factors our ancestors contended with on a daily basis.

Taking advantage of natural light available to hunt, forage and farm was a non-negotiable. Naturally, these cycles are embedded in our DNA and the artificial light we’re subjected to every day can upset our natural sleep rhythms. 

When it comes to your sleeping space, try and make it as dark as possible. If your partner or child needs a light left on or likes to leave the TV on before they fall asleep, try to persuade them to swap these practices for healthier options. If your arguments fall on deaf ears, think seriously about an eye mask. 

Sound is also a big factor. When we’re asleep, our body still hears.

Recent studies have determined that our brain actually responds to auditory stimulation while we’re asleep. This again relates to more historical contexts where our body would need to be able to hear threats while we’re sleeping. So reducing, or drowning out background noise is critical. If you’re in a noisy environment and can’t reduce the chatter, a white noise generator can help. Fans can also produce some white noise and evaporatively cool you at the same time.

This leads to the last point: temperature.

Like music, temperature is a very personal thing. What is cool and comfortable for one person can be downright cold for another. If you sleep with a partner and you have different preferences, try and find a point of compromise that can allow you both to be comfortable. Some high tech beds have the ability to heat and/or cool each side independently. If you can’t settle on a room temperature, maybe a high tech bed solution can help you solve the problem. For example, the Sleep Number DualTemp system. Or there is always an extra blanket for the chilly partner.  What does seem to be universal is that when it’s hot and muggy, it’s hard for most people to sleep; so do what you can to create a cool, temperate sleep environment for you and your family.

Do you sleep in a cool, dark and quiet environment?
5.    Do you sleep on a high quality mattress and pillow?

Truth: I am a mattress and pillow snob, because I truly believe that we should all invest in the best mattress and pillow we can afford.

We spend 1/3 of our life in bed and the quality of our sleep can have some significant benefits and side effects.  

Over the years, I have spent a small fortune on beds and tried everything from high tech waterbeds to modern futons. In the end, I landed on the Sleep Number bed system. This system isn’t going to suit everyone’s taste or budget, but I have had a phenomenal experience with this bed and the company. I am careful not to recommend particular products, unless I can speak to their performance over time and have other reference points. (I also don’t receive any compensation for these recommendations). I’ve referred a number of friends and associates to the Sleep Number bed and those that have purchased them have been incredibly happy. Being able to adjust elements of your bed from individual firmness to temperature differences can be invaluable for couples who have disparate preferences when it comes to their sleeping environment.

The bottom line is: get a great mattress. Try it out for an extended period of time.

Many companies give a window of time for you to test a high quality mattress and to return it if you’re not happy with it. Don’t be afraid to send it back and get a different one. Buying a great bed is a long term commitment. On that note, many components break down over time: springs can fatigue, foam and down can compress, etc. Much like running shoes, you should update your bed regularly (maybe not as regularly as your running shoes). Recommendations vary greatly depending on the bed, but every 7-10 years is a good rule of thumb.

And now to the pillow. This can be as challenging as finding the right mattress. I have experimented a lot, but what suits me will likely not suit others. However, the common threads on a pillow are important. Firstly, do you sleep on your back or your side, or do you change position during the course of the night? If you sleep on your back, you’ll likely want a thinner pillow, and ideally some neck support. There are contoured foam pillows and down pillows can be plumped and shaped to suit as needed. If you sleep on your side, depending on the softness of your bed, you may need a thicker pillow that accommodates for your neck staying in good alignment with your back, given that your shoulder is creating some misalignment without proper support of your head and neck.

Ultimately, like the mattress, I say experiment, experiment, experiment!

I think I’ve tried about every pillow known to man and I ended up settling on a not too thick (that’s a technical term) down pillow. I change my sleeping position, so I readjust the pillow between lying on my back and rolling onto my side. Again, it is what is right for you that counts. If you’re waking up unrested, your back hurts, or your neck is cricked, take the time and invest the money in sourcing a phenomenal mattress and pillow that work for you.

Do you sleep on a high quality mattress and pillow?
6. Do you go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time most days?

This may seem like a simple task, but if you’re like me, having a consistent bedtime can be tough. Two teenagers, a busy work life, a desire to spend time with my wife (who is equally busy), and all the variables of life make for a cacophony of responsibilities that present a moving target. Hitting the bull’s-eye is nigh on impossible on a consistent basis. 

I personally use the Bedtime App that comes preloaded on the iPhone. This app reminds me half an hour before I’ve pre-set it that bedtime is approaching. It also acts as my alarm and when I set the bed time and the wake time, it shows how much sleep I’m projected to get. If you’re not an app person, you can calculate how much sleep you’re projected to get before you’re rudely awakened by your alarm yourself.

But planning on and trying to stick to a bedtime routine is an important part of setting yourself up for sleep success.

Do you go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time most days?
7. Do you avoid screen time before going to bed?

We live in the era of the screen. Between mobile devices, tablets, computers and TVs, we’re bombarded by blue light. The LED screens of computers and most digital devices emit light rays that are generally thought to be harmless, but a spectrum of the light emitted by the LED screen is visible high-energy light called blue light.

Studies show that certain spectrums of blue light penetrate all the way to the retina in the eye and can cause damage to the retina’s light sensitive cells. Excess exposure to blue light at the wrong time of day can also disrupt our body’s circadian rhythms, our normal sleep/wake cycle, which can have serious impacts on your long-term health. 

If you feel that your exposure to LED screens is high, you could consider wearing blue light/UV blocking glasses. This is particularly important for people who are on screens most of the day, or often watch screens before going to bed. Felix Gray has a great range of these glasses, even touting a range as sleep glasses, and these stylish glasses also take the edge off harsh office lighting.

The other obvious alternative is to limit screen time before going to sleep.

Experts recommend an hour break before trying to nod off. Maybe put the Kindle away and pick up a good old-fashioned book, or use some of that time to chat with your kids about their day (provided they’re not blockaded in their room). Or consider doing a meditation? I know my kids can’t imagine a world without screens, but I assure them regularly that there is an amazing non-digital world out there to be explored and real humans to be interacted with face-to-face.

Do you avoid screen time before going to bed?
8. Do you limit your activities in bed to sleep and sex?

This maxim is tough and I certainly don’t live to it at times. I do watch a show here and there (yes, we have a TV in our bedroom), and I do read in bed.

But the premise of this tenet is to not use your bed as your office, or as your living room.

Ideally, enjoy your bed for lovemaking and sleep. 

There are also postural benefits to not watching TV in bed, or having a screen up in your face while in bed. It is difficult to hold a relaxed and natural posture when doing either of these activities. The primary point here is to relax and enjoy your partner before going off to the land of nod. Don’t get all hyped up on shows or social media before shutting down for the night.

Do you limit your activities in bed to sleep and sex?
9. Do you limit your daytime naps to an as needed basis?

My son will tell you he couldn’t nap during the day if he tried. That’s partly because he’s a very active teenager and claims that he’s not capable of taking a nap even if he wanted. It is true that for some people, taking a nap can be tough. I also have a friend that routinely takes a 20-minute nap after getting home from work before he does a workout and embarks on his dinner routine. He swears by it. The advocacy here is not that there’s a rule, but there may be a rule of thumb. If you’ve missed sleep and you’re feeling tired, try a power nap or a nap after work. 

Sleep research recommends that you limit naps to 10 to 20 minutes (30 minutes at the most). This reduces the chance of developing sleep inertia and getting a sleep hangover.

That groggy feeling can be really unpleasant and take a while to shake off. As for timing, researchers recommend taking your nap between 1pm and 4pm. 

The siesta, where in many Mediterranean and Hispanic countries a nap is taken after lunch, is perfectly timed. Due to the fact that these naps are not typically limited to 30 minutes, this may induce the sleep inertia phenomenon, but researchers in Greece suggest the siesta is apparently very good for the heart, regardless.

Do you limit your daytime naps to an as needed basis?
10. Do you limit your food intake in the 4 hours before going to sleep?

Back to the siesta. This phenomenon usually happens in very warm weather, after a big lunchtime meal has been consumed.

There is evidence that suggests that eating before going to sleep is not ideal and may lead to poor sleep and even weight gain.

This is a controversial topic and experts argue that eating a calorie during the day is equal to eating a calorie last thing before going to sleep. There’s also the debate about the metabolism slowing down and not processing the food as effectively, or the body not needing the calories.

Like many things, there is contradictory evidence supporting both sides of this argument. The truth seems to stand somewhere in the middle. Your body does need calories when you’re asleep. Not as many as when you’re active, but it does have the same basal metabolic rate during sleep as it does during the day. Essentially meaning, there is a baseline.

It appears the meal or snack before bed is more likely to induce weight gain because it is an extra meal, not because of the time of consumption.

As for sleep disruption, one study from researchers at the Mayo Clinic has pointed out that high sugar levels in the bloodstream, late at night, can cause wakefulness due to the body pulling fluids out of the tissues and the ensuing need to get up and use the bathroom. Put simply, that pint of cookie dough ice cream at midnight might not be the most conducive for a good night’s sleep.

In précis, try and limit food before going to bed and ideally don’t eat in bed.

Also try and limit sugary foods late at night. Your teeth will appreciate this consideration too. 

Do you limit your food intake in the 4 hours before going to sleep?
11. Do you avoid caffeine consumption after mid-afternoon?

I was chatting with a caffeine addict who drinks coffee morning, noon, and night. She swears there’s no impact on her ability to get to sleep, or the quality of her sleep.

Yet a 2013 study determined that caffeine consumed up to 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced the quality and quantity of sleep the person achieves.

Again, the truth exists somewhere on a spectrum, and that spectrum differs from person to person. It also differs based on the caffeine levels in the drink being consumed. 

Experts will tell you that all coffees are not created equal, and ain’t that the truth! Caffeine levels vary by bean and method of extraction. Many myths exist around light and dark roast, espresso versus drip, and so on.  Other variables include the size of the cup and baseline coffee consumption. In other words, the amount of caffeine in a “cup” can vary significantly and your tolerance for it can also vary.

So if you love coffee after dinner, but feel it’s affecting your sleep, maybe try a good quality decaf or even a herbal tea alternative.

Do you avoid caffeine consumption after mid-afternoon?
12. Do you avoid alcohol, marijuana or nicotine use 4+ hours before going to bed?

The tobacco industry did a masterful job of persuading us that a cigarette after sex was a luxury we could all afford. And as ridiculous as that might seem, in these days of enlightenment around smoking tobacco, there’s still a strong hangover from this notion. In the industry’s efforts to put a cigarette in every pocket and purse in the nation, stars and starlets enjoying a cigarette after sex became a predictable cliché in the golden age of the movies. 

The truth of the matter is that nicotine, regardless of how it’s ingested, will reduce libido and adversely impact your health.

In a study on the Harmful Effects of Nicotine, cited in PMC, researchers found its negative effects were widespread and extended to all systems of the body. With negative effects on the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and reproductive systems of the body, there is a logical argument to be made that avoiding it altogether may be better than just avoiding it prior to sleep.

As for the case for and against marijuana and alcohol consumption before going to sleep, this can vary greatly by the individual. There is a growing body of marijuana users who use this substance to calm themselves and in fact go to sleep.

Like coffee, all cannabis strains and types of consumption are not equal.

High THC strains can actually increase anxiety in larger doses. Older cannabis has been shown to have increased levels of CBN, which is a sedating chemical and may actually aid sleep. Additionally, edibles have a longer lasting effect versus the faster impact of inhalation. Truth be told, as the industry matures, there is much to be learned. Cannabis may be that double edged sword that when used appropriately, where legal, it may actually help with sleep in some cases. 

As for alcohol, many a late night partier has crashed senseless on a couch (or mattress) only to wake up many hours later wondering where they are and what time it is. So I guess in that sense it could be said alcohol can induce sleep, too. In fact, as many as 20% of Americans use alcohol to help them fall asleep.

Even though alcohol is a depressant and can cause you to fall asleep quickly, it can activate Alpha activity in your brain when asleep. The issue with this is that Alpha activity in the brain competes with the deep Delta sleep rhythm. Alcohol also blocks REM sleep, which is considered the most restorative sleep you can obtain.

In a more practical sense, the diuretic nature of alcohol will likely add bathroom trips to your overnight routine and for those prone to snoring or sleep apnea, alcohol will increase the negative effects of both as the muscles of the body further relax under the influence.

Best advice I can give is to listen to your body and your partner when it comes to the benefits, or downsides of using alcohol, marijuana or nicotine before going to sleep.

Your body and your sleeping partner will both let you know what’s working, or not, if you listen to them.

Do you avoid alcohol, marijuana or nicotine use 4+ hours before going to bed?
13. Do you exercise or move at a reasonable intensity most days?

Exercise has many benefits, both seen and unseen. An immense amount of corroborative evidence exists showing a significant improvement in sleep quality and quantity, when you exercise regularly.

So what form of exercise, how much and how hard, and when we should exercise, are all great questions. And this is where the adage that what suits one person may not suit another, is most true.  

When to Exercise

Let me back into this and answer the easiest part of this formula, which is when to exercise.

The answer to that is twofold: it is both when it is convenient and also when your body best responds to exercise.

If you hate exercising early in the morning, then I suggest not exercising early in the morning. I personally can’t exercise late at night, because it winds me up. The trick is to find a time that is convenient for you to exercise most days. For me, that’s usually in the late afternoon, but not after dinner. I have many friends who start their day at the gym, or on a walk, or even on a rowing scull. These early birds swear by getting their workout out of the way and starting the day off right. All I can say is pick what works best for you and your schedule. 

Team Up With an Exercise Partner

I personally love exercising with my wife and/or kids, so when you exercise may also be dependent to some extent on your exercise partner. And therein lies one key to establishing a regular exercise habit: team up with someone. Maybe you hire a personal trainer from that fitness facility down the road; maybe it’s someone at work who has a similar interest in moving more.

A UK study has shown that when you team up with someone to exercise, you burn more calories.

Maybe that is explained by a Michigan study that showed an almost doubling of workout intensity in study participants that worked out with a partner, even a virtual partner. 

Intensity & Adherence

Even more important than the benefits of intensity is adherence.

I believe the reduction in temptation to skip an exercise session when you know a friend is waiting, is a great incentive to keep moving. A Santa Clara University researcher, Thomas Plante, PhD, has demonstrated the immense benefits in enjoyment and mood of partnering up for exercise, and of using music during exercise. Oh yes, music can help too. What do you think attracted me to aerobics way back when; it sure wasn’t the spandex! 

Types of Exercise

That’s a good segue into types of exercise.

My recommendation is to choose exercise that you enjoy. Or if you are like many people that exercise for the benefits and not the enjoyment, make it something you can at least stand doing for more than ten minutes.

I personally LOVE the outdoors, and luckily my wife does too. We mountain bike, run, stand-up paddleboard and walk every chance we get. It’s a great time to de-stress, chat, and to expand our microbiome. Yes, there is an additional benefit to outdoor exercise: your body gets to diversify its micro-organisms in the gut, which are crucial to our overall health. This in turn aids digestion and supports healthy weight management. Who would have thought 20 years ago that going for a walk in the woods, or down the beach, had such far-reaching benefits!

Again, the type of exercise can vary, but substantial bodies of research support the combination of aerobic activity and strength training. 

Aerobic exercise engages the cardiovascular system, where the body utilizes energy reserves combined with oxygen to stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs. We typically know we’re exercising aerobically when we’re breathing a little (or a lot) harder. 

Strength training is anaerobic activity, meaning “without oxygen.” This usually takes place at a higher intensity than aerobic activity and involves power. During anaerobic activity, your body still needs oxygen, but for example because of the intensity of repeatedly lifting that heavy weight (remember “heavy” is relative), your body can’t get enough oxygen to rely on the aerobic system. This in turn creates lactic acid, which can make you feel tired and sore. The good news is that as you develop an exercise routine, this soreness and tiredness subsides and is replaced by an overall feeling of vitality and wellbeing. 

Anaerobic activity doesn’t necessarily have to involve lifting weights. You can use your body weight as resistance, which can vary from a simple push up (try starting on your knees if you want to try this age old mainstay for the first time), to swimming laps. If you haven’t swum for a while (or ever), you’ll find that doing a length of the pool at an easy pace can be an anaerobic activity. As with many things, your body will adapt and if you want to get a workout in the pool and you’ve built your tolerance (anaerobic threshold), you will need to increase your intensity. That would mean doing some easy laps, intermingled with some more vigorous laps.

To sum up the types of exercise section: experiment, try different activities, mix it up. Let your partner in exercise influence you.

Maybe they like an activity you will fall in love with. Trainers usually have a variety of tools to employ and if they’re in tune with you, they will hopefully guide you toward the things you find at least somewhat enjoyable. 

Amount of Exercise/Movement

I touched on the amount of exercise and again, there are contradicting studies on this topic.

As little as ten minutes of exercise a day has been shown to provide wide-ranging benefits, but intensity does matter a lot. The Mayo Clinic recommends 75 minutes of vigorous activity and 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly.

Let’s break that down: that’s an average of less than forty minutes, six days a week, or less than 60 minutes, 4 times a week. 

If that seems unattainable, I recommend at least doing something; doing some form of movement as often as you can manage. Research also proves out that any moderate to vigorous activity over ten minutes in duration can be beneficial. And remember, what denotes moderate or vigorous will vary so again, listen to your body. If taking your rambunctious dog for a walk is a vigorous activity for you, then throw out that PetSmart voucher for dog training and wrestle that pooch as far as your legs will carry you (make sure you can get back home in one piece, too).

If it seems as though I’m making fun, I’m truly not. Taking your dog for a walk can be quite a workout, and a three-mile an hour walking pace can be genuinely considered vigorous for some. Importantly, don’t use others as your benchmark; listen to your body.

I have personally concluded that a combination of higher intensity and moderate intensity exercise is most beneficial.

When you look through the huge swaths of research, this feels like a common thread. I like interval training, which involves both vigorous and moderate intensity in the same activity. Mountain biking is a great example, where the hills raise your heart rate (substantially in my case), and the downhills let you recover. If you’re walking, you can mix it up with terrain, or the settings on the treadmill. Raise your speed, invite some incline, mix it up. If you’ve been walking regularly and are finding it more difficult to get breathing hard, maybe add in a little light jogging. Again, intermittent bursts are better, especially when you’re starting out. Walk for 2 minutes and jog lightly for 30 seconds. Just remember baby steps.

When you’re moving more, your health will naturally improve. You’ll feel better about yourself, and that has amazing benefits to your state of mental and emotional health. Exercise reduces stress and lowers anxiety and also significantly benefits the quality and quantity of your sleep.

Do you exercise at a reasonable intensity most days?
14. Do you get some sunshine most days?

In the days of the caveman, sunlight guided his or her body’s rhythms. Through evolution, you have inherited that same physiological response. Not too long ago, our forefathers worked sun-up to sundown and slept through the dark.

Enter the advent of artificial light (light not generated by the sun), and we start messing with our bodies’ natural circadian rhythms.

I am not suggesting we limit our activities to the daylight hours, but I am suggesting getting out in the sun to trigger natural hormone production and release in your body.

Studies suggest that exposure to sunlight increases the body’s production of serotonin and vitamin D, which can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and help you focus.

Vitamin D is a crucial component of a healthy immune system, among other things I will discuss in more detail below.

These important benefits might add further value to the walk at lunchtime with your office mate; or underscore the benefits of that walking meeting concept I’ve talked about in my mindful leadership articles. 

If getting a few rays of sunlight is hampered by the meteorological limitations of your locale and your mood is waning, there are now a plethora of natural light boxes readily available on Amazon. If you’re vetoing Amazon, they’re also available elsewhere. 

There are also many other benefits to sunlight, including the skin’s ability to create Vitamin D when exposed to even relatively small amounts of sunlight. This has been scientifically proven to significantly benefit bone density, reduce the incidence of some cancers (not skin cancer obviously), help heal some skin conditions, and much more.

The key is to protect your skin if you’re going to be out for extended periods, and moderate your sun exposure.

Most of these numerous and varied positive side effects of direct and indirect sunlight exposure ultimately benefit sleep. So if you can wake up to the morning sun (this reinforces your natural circadian rhythms) and enjoy the benefits of getting outside during the course of the day, you’ll reap the benefits of better sleep and improved health. A word of caution; like most things, exercise moderation; that fiery ball in the sky has a downside too.

Do you get some sunshine most days?
15. Do you have the ability to calm your mind before trying to fall asleep?

Even if you’re doing well on most areas of this list of sleep principles, calming your mind can sometimes be the most challenging of all.

If you’ve got a lot on and your mind is going through all the things you didn’t get done today, or you need to get done tomorrow, a list can help.

Even if you’re not a list person, have a notepad by your bed and just scribble down the open items you’re worried about, or afraid you’ll forget, and use this as a tool to hopefully quell anxiety linked to your to do list. 

Tantamount to using this simple tool is cultivating the intrinsic understanding that you can’t do anything about those things tonight; that you need sleep to be effective, and worrying about those things rolling around in your mind is not going to help getting across them tomorrow. This is a state of understanding that again is not easy to attain, but is essential to letting things go before you go to sleep.

Other techniques I have touched on in previous articles involve mindfulness practices such as breathing techniques and various forms of meditation.

Breathing is a simple tool that can be employed without even getting out of bed, or changing position. I find rhythmic breathing to help immensely, and that involves a count of the breath in and then a count of the breath out. This is usually done silently (your partner may appreciate that courtesy) and can be a slow three count or a slow four count, or whatever feels comfortable. Most importantly, I encourage you to really focus on the breath and keep it slow, even and rhythmic.

You can combine this breathing routine with a mindfulness meditation before going to sleep. This is where you focus on your breathing and consciously observe and release other fleeting, or nagging thoughts. If a thought pops into your head, observe it, let it go and return your focus to your breath. Even though it is recommended that you sit upright for most meditations, I practice mindfulness meditation when going to sleep in my natural sleeping position. 

I also know a number of people who meditate more formally before they go to bed. They use a formal meditation practice, be it mindfulness of transcendental meditation to calm their mind before going to sleep, This can take as little as 5 minutes and as much as an hour for some. As I constantly repeat, it is what works best for you.

Lastly, if there’s a particular area of stress or a recurring theme inhibiting your ability to calm your mind before you go to sleep, this may require addressing with a professional counselor.

Common sense would suggest that when you’re tired or sleep deprived, that might not be the best time to try and solve most problems. If you have an overwhelming area of recurring stress impacting your ability to sleep, I recommend finding a therapist. Psychology Today has a great site where you can enter your zip code and it provides a broad range of therapists and filters.

Do you have the ability to calm your mind before trying to fall asleep?

What is hopefully apparent from this article is the breadth and depth of things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

When it comes to lifestyle adjustments, I always recommend using baby steps.

Pick an easy goal off your list of challenges, and tackle it little by little. You’ll likely note benefit from incremental changes you make in any one of these elements. And if you don’t, keep chipping away or try another item on your laundry list.

Note: The information provided by the author in this article is designed to provide helpful tips on the subjects discussed. Any references or recommendations by the author are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical problem and are provided for informational purposes only. Furthermore any links, recommendations do not constitute a formal endorsement, or any assumption of liability by the author.  

Related:

“How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness”

“What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?”

“Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) = Return On Investment (ROI)”

“Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?”

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How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness

How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness

How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness

how to achieve the ultimate state of wellness

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

That title should raise some red flags for you immediately.

I mean, who can predict what it would take to achieve the ultimate state of wellness for any individual?

There are commonly held beliefs, a great deal of science and a plethora of information available on the achievement of aspects of wellness, but “The Ultimate State of Wellness”? That’s a very individual and ethereal thing.

There are also a lot of claims around products, diets, lifestyles, philosophies and tools that can supposedly extend the quality and quantity of one’s life, but much of the evidence is anecdotal and at best may help some and have little to no effect on others. 

Therein rests the true intention of this article: To highlight the very personal nature of wellness and reflect on some of the meaningful ways you might explore it for yourself.

I have been a member of the wellness community for over 35 years now. Graduating from flop socks and spandex in the Australian fitness industry, to building wellness campuses up and down the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.

On that journey, I have worked on wellness initiatives ranging from kids’ wellness programming through to geriatric rehabilitation efforts. As my contributions became less granular and I was able to view more population-based programming, my perspective broadened, and I’ll share some of those observations herein.

Wellness has many aspects. Fitness is certainly a part of it, but equally mental health is an incredibly important component. Nutrition is really important, but that can’t overshadow the need for stress reduction and mindfulness practices.

Zig Ziglar, an esteemed author and motivational speaker, had a great infographic I used a lot in the early days of my management career and that was the “Wheel of Life”. 

This wheel illustrated seven aspects of our lives that are meant to contribute to balanced success.

Those elements were: Mental, Spiritual, Physical, Family, Financial, Personal and Career.

What I love about this concept is the balanced nature of it. As I remember Zig explaining, if you rate yourself really well on some of these spokes but not on others, your life is going to be out of balance. He had you imagine your wheel rolling down the road of life with some short spokes and some long spokes, and what a wonky ride it would be! A more literal example would be if you have a strong focus on Career, but don’t take care of your Physical or Mental health, you may not get to enjoy the benefits of the financial gains that come with career advancement.

It’s a pretty simple philosophy with significant implications.

Life coaches have adapted this wheel in many forms and the best known includes: Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, Environmental, Financial, and Spiritual elements.

As much as I love all these elements and feel this is pretty comprehensive, I think it misses some components  that I see as fundamental to achieving ultimate wellness for you as an individual.

Here are the elements I think need to be included in a holistic view of wellness:

  • Sense of Purpose
  • Strong Community
  • Spiritual Center
  • Emotional Balance
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Healthful Nutrition, Hydration and Sleep
  • Cognitive Function
  • Conscious Movement
  • Balanced Environment
  • Creative Expression and Play
  • Career Satisfaction
  • Financial Wellness

Zig suggested that balance is at the center of success. I believe it is equally true in the pursuit of wellness. When we place the individual spokes on our wheel of wellness, we are seeking to have each one of them be as long and strong as possible, but not to the detriment of other elements.

So here are the elements I believe go into a balanced wellness profile for anyone:

♦ Sense of Purpose

An incredibly big element of wellness is purpose. When we have purpose, or a reason for being, this can be incredibly fulfilling and healthful. Ikigai, a Japanese word that literally means reason for being, provides a way to help define this incredibly important thread in our lives. The infographic below illustrates Ikigai in a very simple and relatable way.

Ikigai, or this sense of purpose, is a central theme in the Blue Zone community of Okinawa. If you haven’t heard that term before, Blue Zone communities are regions of the

world where an above average number of people live healthier and longer lives than usual.

The term first appeared in a National Geographic cover story in 2005 by Dan Buettner and has been followed by extensive research and initiatives funded by National Geographic to explore this phenomenon.

One of the key findings of Buettner’s work, which was founded on research by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, was the determination that the single most important influence on the longevity of the Okinawans is community. In fact, central to every Blue Zones longevity was exactly that – community.

So it seems intuitive that we look at our community relationships, connections, affiliations and contributions when we consider our state of wellness. This is picked up in the Social element of both the Ziglar and the Wellness diagrams, but I feel it needs to be emphasized in our search for our Ultimate State of Wellness.

Strong Community

This is the other side of the social component I’d like to break out and discuss independently.  

In Okinawa, they use the term “Moai” to describe a community group that forms around the individual to provide support ranging from health to spiritual counseling.

The concept of Moai was originally designed to pool the village’s financial resources so if someone needed capital for a project or an emergency, or the village needed some public works completed, they had the resources to help. This concept expanded to become more of a support network, and a cultural tradition for establishing companionship.

In neighborhoods across Okinawa, friends regularly gather to gossip, share advice and experiences, support each other and even provide financial assistance when necessary. They call these groups their Moai

Buettner determined in his research around the Blue Zones that institutions such as the Moai provide social connectedness that help reduce stress, add to people’s happiness and help community members ultimately live longer and stronger lives. Okinawans have their Moais, Sardinians meet with friends for regular happy hours and Adventists in California host weekly meals with their congregation.

Regardless of the location of the Blue Zone, community is the strongest common thread that runs through every Blue Zone Dan Buettner studied. In a recent study of social connectedness and longevity by Harvard Professor Lisa Berkman, she determined that whether it was familial, a tight-knit group of friends, through volunteerism, or some other form of regular social connection, the bond that the group shared was all that mattered in creating greater health and longevity.

community

When we distil the benefits of being a part of a healthy community, the benefits go well beyond longevity. People with a solid support network feel less stressed and generally happier. They are far less likely to develop chronic disease or depression. In general, having strong community ties provides significant benefits for all the participant members.

I encourage you to seek and embrace a community wherever you can. Whether it is building connections through volunteerism, through an interest group, or simply by reaching out to your neighbors, enhanced community connections bring many benefits and wellness follows.

♦ Spiritual Center

Spiritual wellness can be defined as being connected to something greater than yourself and/or having a set of beliefs, morals, principles, and values at your center that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life. This is particularly true when we use those principles to guide our actions.

It is natural that your spiritual center will usually fluctuate throughout your life. It is also logical that many aspects of overall wellness will contribute to your spiritual wellness, e.g. practicing self-care, being positive and optimistic, volunteering, social connections, and having a sense of belonging.

spiritual center

By growing our spiritual wellness, we gain the power and capacity to make decisions and choices more easily; it provides a foundation during periods of change; and enhances the resilience, grace and inner peace with which we face adversity. 

Having a spiritual foundation in our lives can help us heal when suffering from a physical or mental challenge.

Some measures of spiritual wellness can include having a basis for hope and a place to find comfort during the tough times, having meaning and purpose in your life, being tolerant of other people’s views, making time for personal reflection, and having guiding principles that help direct your actions and decisions.

Some of the ways to enhance your spiritual wellness include practicing meditation or yoga, praying or taking part in organized religion, taking time each day to contemplate life, journaling, spending time in nature, breathing practices and more.

Regardless of the path, finding your spiritual center is a journey and not a destination so don’t forget to stop and smell the roses along the way.

♦ Emotional Balance

Emotional wellness was defined by the Wellness Center of Vanderbilt University as “the awareness of feelings and their expression in a healthy manner with stability of mood, sense of self, positive attitude toward others, and the ability to cope with stress”.

emotional balance

There is no doubt that emotions have a strong influence on your mood, thoughts, attitudes, resilience, decisions and interests throughout your life. 

Your sense of self and in turn your attitude toward others underpins the quality of the relationships you develop.

As we’ve explored previously, if we have healthy and positive relationships with others and a sense of community as a result of these relationships, emotional wellness usually follows. 

One of the biggest components in emotional wellness is balance.

As with all things in balance, different elements counter each other and for example during times of heightened stress, having confidence that this too shall pass will help you navigate those tough times. 

Also, accepting others and forgiving mistakes they may have made allows you to move forward and maintain healthy relationships.  Equally, you need to accept the mistakes that litter your past and move on with a determination to learn and ultimately benefit from these mistakes.

Having a positive mental attitude can contribute greatly to your ability to find the good in people, mistakes and events that may otherwise derail your emotional wellness.

positive mindset

Being aware of and expressing your feelings in healthy ways also reflects your own self-confidence and can create trust in your relationships. Expressing your feelings may limit potential outbursts that come with contained emotions spilling over.

Very few people go through life with complete equanimity, but if we seek ways to positively manage our stress and maintain healthy relationships, levelling out our moods will be a healthy byproduct.

♦ Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships underpin wellness on so many levels. This often falls under the social category on wellness wheels, but I feel it deserves its own space. Healthy relationships nurture us, complement us, grow us and challenge us, all of which is incredibly beneficial to our overall wellness.

But how do you gauge your relationships? I don’t think volume gives perspective to the wellness benefits we glean from our relationships. The introvert may treasure fewer relationships whereas the gregarious extrovert may see more friends as their happy place.

know thyself

I think the measure of healthy relationships is complex, but regardless of the components, malleability is a key element that relationships demand and exercise in us. We are constantly morphing as humans based on a myriad of influences, both physical and psychological, and both parties need to adapt regularly to keep the rhythm of the relationship flowing.

Other facets of healthy relationships include communication, trust, interdependence (not codependence), respect and support of each other.

I speak to a number of these facets in my book, “The Affinity Principle”. This book is about mindful leadership, which if distilled down, is about building and nurturing healthy relationships with your team and other parties with whom you work.

In essence, maintaining healthy relationships demands flexibility and adaptability.

It demands that we are present and attentive. Maintaining strong healthy relationships is rarely seamless and does require effort, but the benefits of healthy friendships and partnerships far outweigh any efforts we make to meet in the middle.

healthy relationships
♦ Healthful Nutrition and Hydration

Again, I am intentional in choosing the word “nutrition” over “diet” or such. What our body needs is nutrition, not diet. Yes, diet is common vernacular for what we eat, but the term diet also has a lot of negative connotations, especially for those of us who have gone on diets and failed to maintain or succeed in terms of the diet goals.

I also chose “hydration”, because we may drink a lot of fluids and yet may not be functionally hydrating our body. Drinks like coffee, tea, alcohol, and soda can have a diuretic effect on your body so even though you’re drinking fluids you may not be effectively hydrating your body, in fact in some cases you may actually be dehydrating your body.

Let’s look at nutrition first. Nutrition provides fuel for our body to move and perform its countless functions. That fuel converts to energy and even though the body needs a complex mix of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates, varied and healthful nutritional choices can provide those components pretty readily.

What is deemed to be healthful nutritional choices will always raise a lot of competing opinions and thoughts, but there are a couple of simple rules of thumb to help steer you in the right direction.

1. Eat low on the food chain. This is a simple way to differentiate between food and foodlike substances. Foodlike substances have been heavily processed and contain a lot of ingredients of which many are unrecognizable to the average person reading the ingredient label.

healthy nutrition and hydration

In fact, the more ingredients a food product has, the less likely it is going to be great for your body. Food in its simplest state is more likely to be good for you than food that has a lot of additives and has  gone through a lot of processing and refinement. Our bodies typically love vegetables, fruits, whole foods and foods rich in fiber. Most of us are aware of what foods are healthy and making more healthy choices over time will pay great dividends.

2. Eat a variety of foods. Diets that promote one food to lose weight are not sustainable and are unlikely to succeed. At the simplest level, your body will not get the requisite vitamins, minerals and components needed for balanced nutrition when you consume a very limited array of foods.

3.  Eat smaller portions. What I mean by this is to spread your nutritional input out and avoid big meals where possible.

I believe eating too much in a sitting, especially at night, is tough on your body so I recommend eating small meals throughout the day.

4. Try and keep your input balanced against your output. Meaning, if you exercise a lot, eat more. If you don’t do a lot of exercise, eat less. Your body will seek balance and if you listen to it, you can usually feel when you’re out of balance.

5. That leads me to my last point on nutrition. Avoid the scales. Judging your state of health or wellness by the scales is fraught with peril. I suggested in the previous point to listen to your body. Too often we ignore our body’s many signals and sometimes warnings because we don’t listen to how we feel. Those are hard things to grasp when we’ve ignored our body’s many cries and too often listened to its cravings. Simple examples of listening to your body would be if you feel energetic, that’s a good sign. If you feel lethargic, that’s probably a bad sign.

hydration

Speaking of lethargy, very often we can feel lethargic when we are dehydrated.

Hydration is critical to all bodily functions and when we are well hydrated, our sleep, cognitive function and mood can all improve.

Hydration of the body is crucial for many reasons. It helps regulate our body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, provide joint lubrication, and allows our organs to function effectively.

All these things can help improve our energy, promote healthy weight loss, improve skin tone, remove toxins from our system, and help keep us regular.

When it comes to choosing what to drink water is the stand out. Obviously water is in many drinks, but other components in those drinks, such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol can offset the hydration benefits of the water by itself. 

There are also a lot of mixed opinions about sports drinks. When we dehydrate we also lose electrolytes, especially sodium.

Even though many sports drinks have sodium and other electrolytes added, they can also contain sugar, artificial colors, flavors and additives. Mineral water usually contains sodium and can be a refreshing drink as well as replace some of the sodium lost during activity. Pure coconut water is also a great alternative electrolyte drink that doesn’t contain any unwanted ingredients.

The level of your activity and many other factors influence the amount of water you need, but if you feel lethargic, have a headache, or dry mouth, then you should try drinking more water. Instead of defaulting to a cup of coffee when you’re feeling tired, maybe try a glass of water and see if you feel the difference.

Essentially, we should drink plenty of water each day, and that may constitute 8-10 glasses or so. 

Your body is an incredibly powerful system that will work very well, given the right ingredients.

When you’re thoughtful about your food and water intake, you’ll notice a positive difference in many aspects of your life.

cognitive function
♦ Cognitive Function

I have chosen cognition over intellectual, or mental, or other possibly more recognizable terms. I’ve done this because I think “intellectual” is a term often used to refer to someone who has above average intelligence, and “mental” comes with its own set of connotations. 

Whereas cognitive function covers the processes I think we should be attributing to the proper functioning of our brain, including gaining knowledge and comprehension.

Things like thinking, knowing, memory, judgment and problem solving are critical cognitive functions. Language, creativity, perception and planning are all higher-level cognitive functions that are essential in our wellness equation.

We should be treasuring and nurturing these processes by challenging and stimulating our mind constantly.

For me, reading and writing are great ways for me to improve my language and in turn express my thoughts. Just as our food choices impact our bodily functions, what we read matters, too.

Ultimately, what we feed into our mental furnace will determine the quality of the output. 

Equally, when we challenge our mind with new ideas, synthesizing information and integrating this with new knowledge, our brains fire up in positive and fruitful ways. Much like our muscles, when we exercise our brain, it gets stronger.

The retention of this knowledge and learning is also critical. With memory impairment at epidemic levels, we must consciously exercise this cognitive function and give our brain the nutrients and environmental stimulation necessary to maintain optimal memory where possible, especially in our later years.

be present

Additionally, using our senses fully to perceive information and interact with our environment are both cognitive functions.

So often, our senses become dulled and limited by lack of use.

When we consider how people with an impaired sense attune their other senses to bridge the gap, we realize the potential each sense has to provide invaluable feedback about the world around us.

One cognitive function that appears to be waning at a cataclysmic rate is that of attention, or focus.

I have struggled on some level with ADHD my entire life. When I was a kid, I was seen as full of energy and hard to contain, or inattentive.

Knowing now that I have an attention deficit, I have worked diligently to exercise focus and improve my ability to be present.

With the onslaught of attention-grabbing bites of information swirling past us at incredible rates, it is no wonder that attention deficit has risen to epidemic proportions.

Avoiding or slowing this cacophony of tantalizing tidbits is tough and so exercising our ability to focus on a conversation, a task, or even a thought process is critical. Becoming aware of this challenge was the first step for me. Exercising my attention muscle remains challenging, but fulfilling when I can minimize the number of intermissions my brain takes in any given process.

sleep

One other process I feel we need to nurture for cognitive wellness is thought.

Thought is critical to decision making, creativity, problem solving, reasoning, visioning and more. Be a thought leader in your own right. Stretch your imagination, build your problem-solving prowess, engage in cerebral ruminations and welcome discussions and debates with friends, family and colleagues as intellectual pursuits that will help all involved build their cognitive wellness.

Last, but not least, I want to touch on the strongest factor in nurturing healthy cognitive function – sleep.

Quality, rhythmic sleep is critical to rejuvenate and maintain good cognitive wellness.

I have worked with people who were incredibly sleep deprived and witnessed the debilitating effect lack of sleep can have even on highly functioning individuals.

Yet, getting good sleep has become more and more elusive for many people. Given that we often spend more time sleeping than any other single activity we need to give it due reverence.

When we sleep, we heal.

When we sleep, we rejuvenate. When we sleep, our bodies and our minds renew and rebuild. To me, good sleep is one of the non-negotiables for health and ultimate wellness. To this end, I have written a separate article on sleep, which dives deeper into this critical part of wellness. 

conscious movement
♦ Conscious Movement

I choose the word “movement”, because exercise and fitness activities bring up negative connotations for many people. I’m not trying to disguise exercise, but do want to reframe it.

Our bodies are designed to move and every time we get up, sit down, go up a set of steps, or walk to the corner store, we are moving and in turn exercising.

Being conscious and taking advantage of these inherent opportunities to move during our everyday activities is hugely beneficial. The worst thing we can do for our overall wellness is to stop moving. Often, when an elderly person has an accident and for example breaks a hip, this can be a death knell for them, simply because they stop moving for an extended period of time and their body suffers.

When I began in the fitness industry, aerobic exercise was in vogue and the more you did and more intense the exercise was, the better.

Much research and learning has transpired between then and now and we now know that exercise can be beneficial in small amounts and light doses.

My strong recommendation is simply to move regularly, choose to walk where you have the choice, choose to take the steps and not the elevator, find ways to incorporate movement throughout your day and you will benefit from these small changes in how you approach movement.

If you choose to move more by finding a form of exercise to do, choose something that is as enjoyable as possible for you.

If you can’t find any form of exercise that you find palatable, then find a reason to motivate movement in spite of your reticence.

movement

An example would be getting a dog. If you need to walk the dog multiple times a day so that it can do its business and get some exercise, this can be a formidable addition to your daily movement patterns.

A few of tips I would add to moving as much as possible:

1. Aim for some variety in the movement you choose. This is good for your body and for your mind. As they say: “Variety is the spice of life”.

2. If you’re just starting out, start out slowly. Be kind to yourself and your body by building your movement over time. Going too hard, too soon, often leads to unnecessary soreness and fatigue.

3. Try and put some movement options in your mix that are not weather dependent. This offers a better opportunity to maintain some movement during inclement weather.

4. If you like keeping score, track your movement. Whether you use an app or device to track your steps, record your miles on the bike, or simply journal your movement activities, if this helps motivate you, just do it.

5. Lastly, I really recommend finding an exercise partner, group, or option where you may add a social component to your exercise. This can also help motivate you on the tough days and may help you add to your community.

SIDE NOTE: As much as moving often is incredibly beneficial, having restful sleep is complementary to movement. In fact, moving more will improve the quality of your sleep and enjoying  good sleep will benefit your desire and ability to move.  

THE DONUT ECONOMICS MODEL

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

Source: Kate Raworth

♦ Balanced Environment

What we surround ourselves with, where we choose to live, the conditions we create or that we are ensconced in, extending from our home out to the planet at large, describes the environment in which we live.

When considering that very broad definition, I have found that the

Donut Economics Model provides a great template for reviewing and balancing human and planetary environmental factors.  

Kate Raworth, the author of “Donut Economics”, describes these planetary environmental boundaries thus:

“The environmental ceiling consists of nine planetary boundaries (climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, disruption of the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, global freshwater use, land use changes, biodiversity loss, aerosol loading in the atmosphere, and chemical pollution), as set out by Rockstrom et al, beyond which lie unacceptable environmental degradation and potential tipping points in Earth systems.”

Raworth added the human wellbeing dimensions, drawing on the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world, which are derived from internationally agreed upon minimum social standards.

environmental balance

Raworth’s 12 dimensions included quality food, clean water and sanitation, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic development, social equity, quality housing, social network, peace and justice, and political voice.

She concluded that:

“Between social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.”

This seems most apt as a way to encapsulate our own sense of what a balanced environment should look like for us. 

When considering our environment we obviously must start in our own backyard, but our awareness and actions must extend out to the planetary boundaries Raworth drew upon for her model.

Our environmental wellness is tenuous at best when we ignore our impact on the planet that we live on.

creativity
♦ Creative Expression and Play

One of the differentiating characteristics of humans from other species is our ability to be incredibly creative.

I believe that in order to thrive, each of us must seek an outlet for creative expression in our lives. 

Many of us feel that we don’t innately possess the creative gene, but in truth we all have creativity wired into us. As humans, we are hardwired to solve problems and that in its simplest form involves creativity. From a very early age, we are curious and creative. We constantly solve the mysteries of the world around us and are not afraid of making mistakes.

Over time, this  creative drive is whittled away by external forces; 

fear often replaces wonder and we end up pigeonholing creativity as the domain of the artist or musician.

Yet, in its simplest form we are actually being creative every day when we choose the clothes we’re going to wear, the route we’ll take to work and even what we’ll cook for dinner. From a neuroplasticity standpoint the more we vary these things, for example our route to get to work, the more we stimulate the creative elements of our brain.

Being open to new possibilities, remaining curious about the world around us, and being willing to make mistakes and accept that they are the ultimate learning tool are all prerequisites to igniting creativity within. If we embrace these attributes, creativity and its many benefits will follow.

jana gamble art studio

In the next section on Career Satisfaction, I mention Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and the state of “Flow”. This state is a wonderful byproduct of the creative journey. Flow is achieved when we are immersed in an activity and time and distractions disappear. Most often, this state is one that is achieved when we are being creative. 

Csikszentmihalyi wrote extensively about Flow and in one of his works,  “Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” he defines creativity as,

“ . . . a central source of meaning in our lives . . .  most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity . . .  [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”

This sums it up pretty well. Whether you’re tinkering in your garage fixing an old piece of equipment, molding some clay, drawing, gardening, or even building a sandcastle on the beach, when creativity is flowing, so are you.

SIDE NOTE: A few years ago, my wife, Jana, was encouraged to explore her creativity in order to help heal from a chronic pain condition. She was a creative professional, but wasn’t creatively expressing herself outside of her work. She began tinkering with paint and canvases and seeking a medium through which to express herself. The number of cast aside canvases and attempts at new creative mediums mounted and so did her creative juices.

Amazing works of art started flowing from her and we ended up building an art studio to allow her to continue to create. Now, she has commissioned works, shows in galleries, and sells (and gives away) many pieces.

But the journey was not about selling her art, it was about creativity. For her, it proved to be a very powerful healing tool. She demonstrated what I am encouraging you to do.

Be willing to make mistakes, explore without fear, play with abandon and many wonderful things will ensue.

flow state
♦ Career Satisfaction

This topic is partially included in the element of Purpose, but deserves some specific focus as it may account for a significant part of your life.

As we explored in the infographic for Ikigai,

balancing what you are good at and love doing with the ability to earn money and cover your needs is a delicate dance. 

Very often, we find ourselves out of balance when we’re not making enough money to be relatively free of stress (even if we’re doing something we love), or alternately making a lot of money but with no joy attached to that pursuit.

Some people are blessed with finding their life’s purpose in a career that bears fruit, whereas others wander many paths without unraveling this mystery over the course of their lifetime.

Choosing the career path that will bring the most fulfilment for you is not easy.

Occasionally, you will meet people who always knew what they wanted to be, but more often people struggle to find that sweet spot that gives them career satisfaction and financial fulfilment.

Most importantly, know thyself. If you can make a difference doing something that you are gifted to do, or have a particular forte in, work can become easier and more fulfilling.

In my book, “The Affinity Principle,” I talk about a concept called flow.

The flow state was defined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi as a state of complete immersion in an activity.

While in this mental state, people are completely involved and focused on what they are doing. When this occurs in our chosen career, it is an incredible gift. 

You can chase the perks, status and salary, but if what you do doesn’t resonate within you, finding that Zen state of flow will likely be an elusive goal.

financial wellness
♦ Financial Wellness

Wellness in any realm requires balance and a holistic approach. Financial wellness is no different and as with the other elements, one size does not fit all. Wealth does not directly correlate to financial wellness. When measuring your financial wellness, you need to consider factors such as:

  • Are you suffering from, or relatively free of financial stress?
  • Are you making improvements to your financial wellness by saving more, reducing debt, and/or budgeting?
  • Do you have, or are you building, financial knowledge that helps guide your financial behaviors?
  • Do you have a financial plan to reach your desired state of financial wellness? 
  • What is your overall level of personal satisfaction with your current finances?

These are some simple guides you can use to review your financial wellness. Most importantly, keep your financial wellness in perspective. It is not directly proportionate to your net worth; it is directly proportionate to your overall level of personal satisfaction with your current finances.

SIDE NOTE: In studies, it has been determined that the level of happiness a person experiences elevates with income up to a certain point. Researchers have found that happiness doesn’t change much once that threshold of income has been reached. Andrew T. Jebb, the lead author on a study that defined these thresholds across the world said,

“There’s a certain point where money seems to bring no more benefits to well-being in terms of both feelings and your evaluation.”

financial wellness
♦ Conclusion

When we focus on these fundamental elements and consciously try and advance those areas where we lack balance or struggle in our day to day, these efforts will also be rewarded in other areas of our lives.

When we move more, inevitably we tend to feel better about ourselves. Often, with movement, improved nutrition will follow. If we consciously nurture our relationships, community may build behind these enhanced connections, and so forth.

Simply taking stock and applying some of this knowing can begin to shift the momentum in our lives.

Change will come incrementally at first, and grow on these foundations of self-awareness. 

When we approach this process knowing that it is a process, small changes build on each other and can create substantial positive change over time. Setbacks are inevitable, but by maintaining a positive mindset around the change you seek, momentum will grow. As you build and balance these elements, unanticipated rewards will follow. 

Related:

“How to Improve Your Quality of Life by 33% Today”

“What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?”

“Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) = Return On Investment (ROI)”

“Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?”

Let's Connect!

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The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

PEOPLE FIRST, ALWAYS™

Wellness Real Estate Return on Wellness (ROW) = ROI

Wellness Real Estate Return on Wellness (ROW) = ROI

Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) = Return On Investment (ROI)

Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) equals Return on Investment (ROI) Feature Image

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

I remember the elation I felt the first time I completed the 13-minute ab track in my mentor’s aerobics class. Those were the days of “burn baby, burn”.

At that point in the fitness industry’s history, the term “Wellness” was just coming into our vernacular. Most of us fitness zealots didn’t really understand what wellness was, but on some level, it resonated with me as the way of the future.

As my career in fitness morphed into a career in wellness, my appreciation for the more holistic benefits of balancing body, mind and spirit were accentuated.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of leading many wellness initiatives ranging from corporate workplace wellness, all the way through to rehabilitative wellness. I headed up the construction of massive wellness campuses and helped build integrative healthcare collaboratives. My understanding of what it took to achieve wellness heightened and I also started to become aware of the overuse of the term.

Wellness was the buzzword of the fitness, spa, integrative care and supplement industries. It was the catchall for initiatives ranging from workplace health to disease management and prevention efforts. It was also being used in seemingly disparate areas such as housing developments and pharmaceutical ad campaigns.

A new term began to appear as wellness permeated almost every aspect of our lives, and that was “Well-Washing”.

This meant exactly what it inferred, someone was using wellness to make a product look or sound good and often there was no substantive wellness connection when you really looked at the product in stark relief.  

An area where I feel this is somewhat commonplace is the Wellness Real Estate space. Wellness Real Estate developments have wellness attributes that can range from a simple network of trails to extensive wellness facilities and services. 

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

The former is more the norm, where a developer will put in some trails and maybe a fitness center and stop there. These fitness centers rarely get a lot of use, but the trails are often a boon for kids and adults alike to get outside, exercise and travel around the development off road.

In no way am I disparaging efforts to provide a wellness amenity, but as our knowledge and skill increases in the delivery of wellness lifestyle, calling a development Wellness Real Estate when you take a very narrow slice of what’s available and apply it lightly to the development seems disingenuous.

As I have explored this world of Wellness Real Estate developments, the list of comprehensively packaged wellness communities is relatively thin. Yet, where wellness elements are thoughtfully stitched together to offer a tapestry of offerings, the measure of the benefits of the wellness “investment”, Return On Wellness (ROW), is high.

The good news for the developers of these integrated wellness communities is that they also typically receive a handsome Return On Investment (ROI).

True wellness lifestyle real estate often fetches premiums on the sale of residences ranging from 10% to over 50% above similar homes in adjacent developments.

This perhaps is an indicator as to why many developers like to place the “Wellness” badge on their developments. Getting a premium and often selling homes more quickly because of this wellness branding is very tempting.

But as consumers become more aware of wellness and its many constituent parts, I believe it will be necessary for developers to dig deeper into the arsenal of available wellness amenities to assure their optimal ROI and the best ROW for their residents. 

The best part about this is that these two metrics will become more and more intertwined and investing in wellness will not only do a great deal of good for the community that benefits from the infrastructure, but will also represent a great investment for astute developers who take a long-term view and are looking for a distinct advantage in the marketplace.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

Related:

“How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness”

“What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?”

“Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?”

Let's Connect!

COURSES & WORKSHOPS | SPEAKING | EVENTS | COACHING

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation. LET US KNOW IF YOU'D like to collaborate with us. MINDFUL LEADERSHIP PODCAST COMING SOON, BE OUR GUEST!

Or call 434.996.5510

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Business Consultant | Coach |The Affinity Principle | Best Seller Logo

The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

PEOPLE FIRST, ALWAYS™

Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?

Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?

Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?

What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID Blog Post

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

The “Big Mac” symbolizes the belief that more is better. If one beef patty is good, wouldn’t two beef patties be better?

Similarly, the colloquialism of the “McMansion” suggests that bigger is better when it comes to homes.

It feels as though in modern housing estates with tightly packed McMansions, compromise on the lot size is a given in order to get a bigger house for the money.

This is not just developers trying to maximize their land asset, it is also consumers saying they’d rather get a bigger house and forgo lot size in order to achieve additional square footage.

The modern McMansion has a lot of square footage and a plethora of spaces created by this extra area. Most have 4+ bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, guest rooms, play rooms, man caves, a formal dining room is often the standard, the living area is usually huge and there is often a grand staircase with a large foyer and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The basement is almost always capacious, often offering more room for storage of “stuff” as well as being a welcome retreat for teens at times.

This spaciousness has been a blessing on some levels, with many people beginning to work from home during COVID and needing that extra room for an office.

When I first moved to the U.S. from Australia, I was amazed at the magnitude of these large homes, sometimes with just one or two people living in them. Where I had come from, houses were more ranch-style and fairly minimalist. A good friend of mine here in the U.S. was very well heeled and lived in a home of almost 10,000 s.f., by himself. Now this is on the high side of what I’m describing, but he admits he really only used 4 rooms regularly in this home of over 20 extra-large spaces. 

As much as this behemoth and other friends’ more modest McMansions of 5,000s.f.+, astounded me, I accepted that this was the upshot of prosperity and that homes in fact symbolized success for many people.

When I came to build my own home here in the U.S., I was lucky enough to find acreage close to town and built a home of about 3,000s.f. on the property. Not extra large, but certainly big for one person. As I was building the home, I met my future wife, we moved into the house, got married and started a family. 

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

Eventually, we filled out the house with two beautiful children and expanded it a little over time. We added a pool, a basement apartment, and eventually even a guest house on the property. Most recently, I added an art studio for my wife who is an artist, among many other things. By the end, we had well over 5,000 s.f. under roof, with two double garages and lots of deck space. 

These additions all seemed logical at the time and we felt we utilized the home pretty well. Most rooms got used, we often had guests, rented the guest house out, and life seemed relatively normal in our home. 

That feeling of normalcy completely dissipated in the fall of 2020, when we somewhat spontaneously decided to sell our home, move into an RV and hit the road full-time.

The decision to sell up and travel was primarily driven by COVID and the growing stress we all felt under the stay at home status. Most of all, we felt we needed to break out of the rut in which we collectively found ourselves.

We assumed and confirmed that moving into an RV is much akin to moving into a tiny house.

Even though we bought a 40-foot bus, it tops out at less than 400s.f. When our 2 slides are out (extensions that you can slide out when you’re parked). That meant we needed to sell, store or give away almost everything we had. 

We filled the RV’s shelves, drawers and storage compartments with the items we thought we’d need and found that it all fitted with not much space to spare.

We closed on the sale of our house and hit the road with excitement laced with trepidation at this monumental step.

Let me add at this point that our family unit comprises three big dogs, two teens and ourselves. So we crammed 7 relatively large bodies into this small road capsule. Side note, the dog addition to our entourage was not ideal but the new owners of our home probably wouldn’t have appreciated three “stray” dogs floating around their new residence.

We are 5 months into this experiment and in spite of all the inevitable trials and tribulations, we have found ourselves.

As with all things, this will likely not be a permanent state, but

we have grown so much closer and so much more appreciative of each other that it is remarkable. 

What is more remarkable is that we felt grateful and appreciative of each other before we embarked on this “voyage” and honestly didn’t expect that to change much, but it did.

In this tiny space, we have inadvertently placed ourselves in full view of each other. There is no hiding or locking ourselves away. When someone is making dinner, or washing the dishes, they are in plain view. When someone is filling the dog bowls or taking out the trash, it is obvious. When someone is struggling with something, it is immediately apparent and we can reach out and offer support.

Our lives have become more transparent to each other and we are learning much and growing furiously in this new exposed state.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

When I think about it, we have returned to our familial roots at some basic level.

The circumstances we are living in now are not dissimilar to how our forebears would have lived in a one room hut, teepee, yurt or even a cave. In those days, people truly lived together. Space was limited and being respectful of each other and pitching in was necessary, not an option.

People survived because of community, because of communal living, sharing and giving.

Family members were there for each other in the best and worst of times and people depended upon each other to survive. Communication was naturally effective.

When I say we have found ourselves, I really mean that we are consistently more connected, more in tune, more respectful, more grateful, more transparent and more appreciative than I ever remember us being for an extended period of time.

I have come to believe in recent months that this growing appreciation of each other is because we actually see each other. We see our contributions, we see our stress, we see our struggles, we share our pain, our joy, our love. 

When we had a relatively large house, we were much more disconnected, less likely to spend time together, less likely to see dinner being prepared or the trash being taken out. 

There is no doubt in my mind that there were times when we were completely unaware of a family member struggling with things and ignorance is not bliss when someone close to you needs help.

So what’s the moral to the story?

This is all anecdotal and only one family’s experience. Life on the road, or in a tiny home, is not for everyone. There are lots of compromises to be made and I am also glossing over the very challenging times we all had in the beginning. There are inevitable concessions to be made when you live life in close quarters.

But I could not be more unequivocal about the inherent benefits this degree of proximity brought to our individual and collective lives.

So I think the moral to the story, in my mind, is that maybe less is more. Sometimes having less stuff can be a good thing.

And maybe even having a smaller home can actually be a benefit to the quality of our lives as individuals and as families.

And when we finally sell the bus and move into a home again, it will likely be much smaller than the one we would have envisaged before embarking on this journey. Because one indelible lesson we have learned on this 8,000-mile journey is that we love being near each other, giving, sharing, encouraging and loving each other on the good days and the bad ones.

Related:

“How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness”

“What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?”

“Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) = Return On Investment (ROI)”

Let's Connect!

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Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation. LET US KNOW IF YOU'D like to collaborate with us. MINDFUL LEADERSHIP PODCAST COMING SOON, BE OUR GUEST!

Or call 434.996.5510

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Business Consultant | Coach |The Affinity Principle | Best Seller Logo

The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

PEOPLE FIRST, ALWAYS™

What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?

What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?

What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?

What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID Blog Post

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

When we explore the power of community, nothing brings it into focus more clearly and powerfully than the varied responses to the COVID crisis. Through this lens, the dichotomy of our present reality also comes into stark relief. 

As COVID descended squarely on the shoulders of humanity, partisanship and commercial interests were squarely at odds with the need for communities to work in harmony and solidarity to stave off escalating infection and spiraling death rates.

It seemed that where partisanship and conflicting interests generated fractured approaches from within communities, COVID flourished.

One antithetical extreme is the kingdom of Bhutan, a tiny landlocked country in the Himalayas bordered by China and India. Bhutan has only reported one death from COVID and an infection rate of less than 0.01% (compared to over 9% of the population in the U.S.). 

In Bhutan, the guiding measurement of the country’s success is “Gross National Happiness”. This metric values economic development backed by environmental conservation and cultural values.

Has this guiding principle contributed to Bhutan’s unparalleled success in countering COVID? I think it’s likely, but I’ll let the scientists, epidemiologists, statisticians and actuaries argue the merit of that conclusion.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

What is known is that like the “Donut Economic Model” embraced by  Amsterdam to balance its approach to community wellbeing, Bhutan looks to its communities’ wellbeing as a foundation stone.

Bhutan and Amsterdam are not isolated examples of community wellbeing underwriting a societal philosophy. In fact, the whole Scandanavian peninsula has long been recognized as a maven for valuing community wellbeing.

In a Greater Good interview, economist Baron Richard Layard, of the London School of Economics, reflected on the high marks the Scandanavian countries uniformly scored every year in the World Happiness Report: 

“You don’t have to turn your back on economics, but it’s not the be-all end-all. Human relationships are extremely important and need to be given a great deal of attention—we shouldn’t sacrifice them in the name of economic efficiency.”

Regardless of its causal effect on COVID, Bhutan’s goal of “Gross National Happiness” and the Scandinavian commitment to community wellbeing are admirable.

They certainly inspired me to think beyond some of the constructs I’ve created for myself in my 35-year career in wellness.

My work in the wellness arena began in the heyday of the fitness industry where flop socks and lycra was all the rage. Over time, my enthusiasm for fitness morphed into a deep appreciation for the more holistic benefits of wellness.

As I explored the boundaries of wellness, I had the opportunity to create large integrated wellness campuses with the goal of  blurring the lines between healthcare and wellness.

These centers were focused on attracting the “Interested Deconditioned” segment of the market to movement, and building community from within their shared experience. The “Interested Deconditioned”  segment represents almost two thirds of the population who know they need to move more to be healthy, but haven’t yet found a solution they’ve been able to sustain.

THE DONUT ECONOMICS MODEL

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

Source: Kate Raworth

Over the course of this journey, I have seen community wellness blossom when a small group of like minded individuals, seeking to change lives for the better, join forces and share their passion.

I’d often postulate that the right wellness team could change lives in a warehouse and that the trappings were secondary to the people driving the change.

Having said that, the surroundings can certainly complement the outcome and I had the privilege of heading up the development of a beautifully appointed wellness center in Charlottesville, VA where we amassed an incredible track record for “changing lives” and penetrated deep into the fabric of that community. 

Through programs ranging from regional Physician Referred Exercise Programs (P.R.E.P.), all the way down to basic balance classes for seniors, this team of wellness advocates significantly influenced the wellness of an entire community, achieving the highest community penetration rates of a wellness center in the country at the time.

The performance of this team, the diversity of programming and our ability to create partnerships with and complement the efforts of local healthcare providers fostered confidence in the medical community that generated  momentum rarely seen in these types of initiatives. 

Like the Bhutan principle or the “Donut Economic” premise, the community wide appeal of the programming we were able to create underwrote the economic prosperity of these centers and allowed us to maintain alignment with the goal of changing lives.

This initial groundbreaking success underwrote future campuses up and down the Atlantic Coast. As we refined and expanded the model, I was realizing that these wellness centers could and should be at the heart of a community.

At that point, projects had ranged from kids campuses to senior centric havens, but often these elements remained separate and distinct.

When I was able to blend the generations together on one campus, the upshot was magic.

Kids were inspired by their elders and the seniors were rejuvenated by the energy of youth. I share a couple of anecdotes in my book, “The Affinity Principle™”, but the stories were endless.

This started a personal journey of discovery for me.

I began exploring lifestyle resorts, intentional communities, destination wellness, and wellness real estate developments. There were a lot of moves afoot to increase access to wellness lifestyle and some wonderful outcomes were emanating from these initiatives.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

In my research, I was drawn to Dan Buettner’s work for National Geographic in the Blue Zones study. Dan’s work looked at communities across the globe that enjoyed the longest lifespans and highest quality of life. 

At the heart of this study was the unequivocal finding that “community” was the number one factor in influencing the health and longevity of the members of that community. 

As my understanding of community and its impact on wellbeing continued to expand, I began integrating more of these learnings into the wellness models I created. If community underpinned longevity and wellbeing, it had to be hardwired into any model I promoted in the future.

Reinforcing this conclusion and underpinning my belief that the Bhutan COVID aberration was more related to their community model than may ever be acknowledged, a new study suggests that one of the most important community resources for fighting COVID is social capital: the network of relationships within a community.

According to the study, across over 2,700 counties in the U.S. where people trust each other more, feel more connected, and care for each other more, there are far lower infection rates and fewer deaths from COVID.

The study’s authors  found that counties in the top 25% of social capital had nearly 18% fewer cases of COVID-19 and 5.3% fewer deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people than those in the bottom 25%. 

These findings validated my belief that social capital, community centricity, trust, communications and connections underpin wellness.

They were also accentuating my understanding that putting people first has an immeasurable benefit.

Where most Western Nations measure success through the lens of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), or CPI (Consumer Price Index), Bhutan measures its performance in “happiness.” Where the instant gratification of consumerism was underwriting economic

growth in many parts of the world, Amsterdam was seeking to create inclusive and sustainable economic development while creating a safe and just space for its community members. 

This truly resonates with me.

I had always managed companies with a “People First” mindset, arguing that the money was a by product.

This premise was founded on first hand experiences birthing startups and rebirthing companies that were struggling. When I approached the business from a people-centric perspective, I was able to grow trust, communication, function and performance.

This premise is the basis of my book I mentioned earlier, “The Affinity Principle,” which presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach (sounds like the Bhutan philosophy when I reflect back). 

In simpler terms, I distilled The Affinity Principle into a formulaic basis for  long-term sustainable business success:

Mindful leadership creates an incredible team performance, which leads to an awesome customer experience and that yields great financial results.

If a tiny nation state such as Bhutan can build a sustainable economy around happiness, and an economic and tech goliath such as Amsterdam can balance its economic prosperity with mindful planetary and social boundaries, what could we achieve in our own back yard?

Could we develop a village concept that is centered around wellness and sustainability and yet  underwritten by economic prosperity? A place where people come first and prosperity follows, literally and figuratively? Where longevity is intrinsically connected to quality of life?  Where human relationships are the thread that binds the community together and allows it to function and prosper?

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

This may all seem a little idealistic, but innumerable pockets of inspiration are blossoming across the globe. As COVID’s grip loosens, I believe our need for community, to feel more connected and care for each other, will continue to rise in its aftermath.

Ultimately, if wellbeing is intrinsically linked to community, it just makes sense to plant these seeds in our own backyard. There is indelible proof of the benefits, innumerable examples of the ways and means to achieve this objective, and unparalleled momentum to underwrite such an initiative. What are we waiting for? 

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

CITATIONS:

1 Haug, N., Geyrhofer, L., Londei, A. et al. Ranking the effectiveness of worldwide COVID-19 government interventions. Nat Hum Behav 4, 1303–1312 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-01009-0

Related:

“How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness?”

“Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) = Return On Investment (ROI)”

“Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?”

Let's Connect!

COURSES & WORKSHOPS | SPEAKING | EVENTS | COACHING

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation. LET US KNOW IF YOU'D like to collaborate with us. MINDFUL LEADERSHIP PODCAST COMING SOON, BE OUR GUEST!

Or call 434.996.5510

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Business Consultant | Coach |The Affinity Principle | Best Seller Logo

The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

PEOPLE FIRST, ALWAYS™