These days, I am using a three-prong approach to wellbeing. “Wellbeing” is a catchall term that includes counteracting anxiety and depression, possessing a sense of contentedness, feeling on top of my game, having my head on straight, and being calm and collected. These are all things I struggle with on a daily basis and must tend to vigilantly.
The three-prongs are nothing new: body, mind, and spirit. Some think of this as three completely distinct parts of the self. Traditional monotheistic religions call the spirit the true core self, wrapped in mind or will, wrapped in this filthy and distracting husk of a body. I like to flip that around, presuming first and foremost we are physical creatures, the complexities of which produce a self-aware mind, the complexities of which produce a spirit that longs to transcend, connecting with our highest selves and the mysteries of the universe. It is less important how you stack the elements, and more important that your arrangement leads to a practical, beneficial, balanced practice that improves wellbeing.
Body, mind, and spirit each address a different set of human needs and must be nurtured using different strategies. Despite the clear distinctions, these parts are tightly interconnected. Thriving in one, opens doors for the others. Likewise, neglecting one can stunt the others. Arianna Huffington shares how tending to basic bodily needs leads to better focus, creativity, and overall performance. Deepak Chopra speaks about the many studies linking mindset to the body’s immunity and recovery. Viktor E. Frankl discusses how body and mind can become resilient with a strong spirit.
While an overwhelming number of interventions could be prescribed to address the three-part system, I always advise keeping things simple and sustainable. Each week I take a few moments to reflect on my body/mind/spirit and challenge myself over the next week to adopt one daily behavior that would improve my system, and remove (detox) one behavior that is holding me back. I set the bar low, prefering to establishing the habit and a sense of success, rather than burning out early due to overeagerness. Things can always be ramped up next week. We’re playing the long game; enjoy the ride!
My current approach to body was discussed in Prong 1: Body. Mind and spirit will be covered in forthcoming posts.