When we think of well-being, we generally think of things "below the neck": exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, eating good-for-you foods. But according to alternative health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, much of what contributes to our quality of life are things "above the neck," things like creativity, restful sleep, and forgiveness.
Weil suggested the above as fast paths to feeling healthier, and they don't take a lot of time or effort ... well, physical effort, anyway. The central idea common to all of them is the idea of accessing a sense of inner peace and calm.
First, he suggests finding your inner artist. Find a simple way to express your creativity, which Weil says releases immunity-boosting compounds and natural painkillers in the brain. His suggestions for doing so are so simple that they can't hurt and might help; for example, singing along with the radio, writing in your journal or just doodling. I'd add something as simple as coloring with your kid. I do that a lot with mine and it's oddly soothing.
The next one is so simple: Dim the lights before you go to bed as a way to help your body and mind "power down." Brightness wakes us up, dimness soothes us ... if it's dark in the morning where you are at this time of year, don't you find yourself having much more difficulty getting up? Sub in a good book for computer or TV time (or iPod time -- I tend to read or play games in bed on mine when I should be sleeping) and you'll find yourself drifting off much more easily.
And lastly, he suggests forgiving others as a major path to feeling good. Now that's the one that takes some doing, at least if you are a champion grudge holder like me. In researching this, I came across a good definition of forgiveness I don't think I understood before: that it doesn't mean minimizing the hurt someone caused you, but simply no longer expecting some sort of restitution or punishment for them and ending any anger or resentment over the wrongdoing. Sounds so easy .. and yet for many of us, is so challenging.
What helps you find your inner feeling of well-being and calm?
Image via Eric Yeargan/Flickr