I am sure you might have read Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Over these last couple of years of attempting to speak the unknown language of Functional Nutrition in India, I came across certain similarities in those that are healthy, those that have lost the balance but move towards great health wonderfully, and those that always stay in the loop of poor health. This pattern was fascinating, because it pointed towards developing some understanding, creation of frameworks and tools, and positioning healthcare in a way that it could help more people, if they understood these underlying patterns. With this in mind, I began to write this article on the 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People, juxtaposed upon Covey’s excellent book.
Honestly it took me almost four decades of poor health to understand that riddle called good health. What I am about to speak of in this article is not to overwhelm or upset you, but show you some of the habits that kept me in that loop of very poor health. Eventually, after going through frustration, anger, denial, guilt, helplessness, sadness and overwhelm, I reached that space where I understood that great health was simple enough, provided I stayed within some frameworks. I reached this point because I messed up constantly, again and again, until the frustration of hearing someone smirk and roll their eyeballs at me in disbelief that I was sick again, drove me nuts. How can this understanding help to know the habits then of really healthy people?
My simple philosophy at every moment, is to move from the perceived negativity of any situation to the inspiring positivity that it has potential for.
Habit No 1 of Highly Healthy People-They do not mistake Google for expert advice
It’s almost remarkable how technology is that double edged sword. I know that you are thinking that you are reading this right now using technology, but compare this to a research study that you might have found somewhere. For example, if you find a research study that has found sugar does not lead to any disease, and have missed the information that the study is in fact funded by a well know large organisation of processed food, it simply does not make any sense. Similarly, if you have used your google search to simply search for information related to your symptoms and conditions, but missed the information if it is written by a qualified practitioner, then you might miss valid information that you require. Focusing on random information everywhere, which is contradictory every single day not only is counterproductive, but it is also draining, when you keep trying different protocols and find yourself stuck in the loop of disease. It simply does not work. I found the healthiest people did not replace professional expertise with google, and they also realised that they were not the expert in areas outside of theirs. One way to use technology, if you do want to and cannot afford a qualified practitioner, is to stay with one person or system that has created a niche within that area of health, and allow for some time to see if it works for you. Ask yourself how might you fine tune your search so that the information that you receive is more effective for you. Tell yourself that you need to stay rooted in the right information.
Habit No 2 of Highly Healthy People-They do not hop frequently between systems and protocols
I know that this might seem strange to hear, but the number of people who hop from practitioner to practitioner, system to system, and protocol to protocol is massive! I know someone who hops every few months to a new perceived magical system, that has transformed a friend’s life. This simply is a foolproof way of failing in your journey towards good health. Not only is this not giving enough time for any system to work, you are also going by the recommendation of someone else, who might have had multiple different symptoms, root causes and practices. You also run the risk of making yourself further overwhelmed and confused, and deeply frustrated, when each new practitioner or system counters what you have already done before, changes everything that you have done, and leaves you floundering in a sea of confusion and helpless trust. This is not what healthcare is supposed to be. Healthy people usually stayed with a system for some length of time, and understood it with deep insight, before judging or disregarding it. If it did not work after a long time, then they were also ready to accept that, but they did allow for time within a system. Tell yourself that you need to ground your energy with boundaries and systems.
Habit No 3 of Highly Healthy People-They never compare to neighbours
This is a continuation of hopping between systems, but is even more scary. A friend of mine once tried a ketogenic diet because her friend told her it was the magical diet. No one knew, not even my own friend, that she had genetic challenges with her liver which predisposed her to gallstones, and struggled to digest normal levels of fat, leave alone high levels of fat. The friend who advised her, knew nothing of this nuances, and kept pushing her to stay with it, when her own body was telling her that something was wrong. Eventually, she ended up in the office of the city’s best gastroenterologist, went through a colonoscopy and endoscopy, was put on a long course of antacids, became deficient in iron and had chronic fatigue. The greatest service that you can do towards your own health is not to compare yourself with someone else without understanding your body deeply, and trying something which may not work for you. What I noticed about this section of really healthy people was that they were committed when they followed an expert and merged that with intuition and awareness of their own body. Together that combination was magical. They were gentle and clear when someone tried to compel them to eat or not eat a certain way. Their response was never aggressive. It was gentle yet firm. Tell yourself that you are truly unique.
Habit No 4 of Highly Healthy People-They allow practicality to be higher than ideology
This might be a sensitive subject everywhere, but the white elephant in the room needs to be called out, as this lies deep within why many people remain unhealthy. In fact, someone in this category may prefer to be unhealthy to giving up ideology. Ideology can rule your choices in food and lifestyle a great deal, and there are nuances to this as well. After all, ideology is an integral part of community and tribe. This is definitely something wonderful for everyone, provided that you have absolutely no symptoms and conditions. If however you struggle with complex health challenges, and you have been your whole life, it might be worth looking with some sensitivity towards yourself, and seeing whether it is time to let go of some fixed ideology in return for better health. No one is going to blame you, and if someone does, they don’t belong in your life. If someone cares for you, they would understand that you need something different. The healthiest people who had transformed from the worst situations of health, had gently embraced the need to let go of some ideology and change their food and lifestyle. There is no better example of this than Dr Terry Wahls! Tell yourself that you too are very important in this Universe.
Habit No 5 of Highly Healthy People-They rarely eat restrictive diets except as a temporary therapeutic and healing phase
This is a continuation of the previous habit in some ways, but any kind of restrictive diet, where you have eaten a particular way for a long period of time, and it involves keeping away diversity in foods, is worth looking at. The truth is that a therapeutic diet which a trained practitioner might put you on could also be restrictive, but the difference lies in the thought behind it, which is to reduce the inflammation within your body, and these diets are meant to be short term only. A qualified practitioner will not be in favour of keeping you on a restrictive diet long term, where even the best diets with the biggest claims can cause their own set of deficiencies. The more diverse your diet is, the more variety of nutritive elements that your body will receive. If you have reached a state where every food causes you pain or symptoms, it is not time to keep eating that way, but time to look deeper at what’s going on in there. Those people who are absolutely thriving in health eat as diverse as they possibly can, within the parameters of whole, unprocessed and anti-inflammatory foods. Tell yourself to flow with ease, creativity and variety.
Habit No 6 of Highly Healthy People-They do not follow a Practitioner to pick and choose what they wanted to implement, but put their faith in them completely
You might wonder where their intuition went, but of the set of people who did visit a practitioner, and who transformed in the best way possible, were those who asked questions with curiosity combined with faith and surrender. They trusted but needed to know why they were doing something. Once they understood, they did their best to follow through, at least for enough time to see if it made a difference. As odd as this sounds, in spite of someone having detailed documents on what to do and be informed in detailed about the nuances of what is expected, some people will end up doing what they want. For a practitioner it can simply be easy to have everything in writing and point it out later, but no one wins this way. All that a skilled practitioner wants is for someone to transform and heal themselves in the best way possible. Recently someone sent me a document given by a health coach to them, asking me to explain what it meant. This was not only unethical but unprofessional as well. My advice to you, if you do see a practitioner, is to ask again and again and again. I promise you that there is nothing wrong with this. If it is a service that you paid for, you have every right to clarify as many times as is needed until you have understood. Please do that. Always seek answers, but I gently advice you to do so from a space of curiosity rather than argument. Tell yourself that you are connected to divine guidance through blessings towards the right direction.
Habit No 7 of Highly Healthy People-They never worry about the most catastrophic future of their disease and always take baby steps towards resolution
The healthiest people rarely even knew what was the worst case scenario of their disease. All they focused on was taking the smallest steps. They accepted how much they could do, and did it step by step. At every stage, they first got excited about the tiniest positive change and celebrated it. What can be different? As sad as this sounds, I assure you that my attempt is not to hurt you, but to tell you what a disservice you are doing to yourself by this. This is not about someone not understanding your pain, but in fact someone who deeply understands it. Researching the worst case scenario of your disease, feeds energy towards it. Just because you read that, does not mean that it will happen to you. Just because you read that your disease has no cure, does not mean that it has to be that way. History of health is replete with wonder stories of transformation, and you could be that one. Checking the worst case scenario after a diagnosis feeds an energy of gloom and doom which serves no purpose. Instead taking baby steps, however smell you feel you are capable of at this moment in time, is enough. It’s remarkable how many people focus on all that is still wrong with them, rather than celebrating the smallest victories. I encourage you to begin every day with celebrations of what has improved in your health, and look with curiosity at the challenges that remain, rather than dejection or blame. If you do so as well, you are well on your path towards recovery! Tell yourself to celebrate every little positive change!