In the school of life, we discover a lot of things about ourselves. As a result of paying attention to the finer details of ourselves, we identify good habits, bad habits and unnecessary habits. We also learn about the numerous skills and talents we have that can always use some work to improve on within ourselves. Consequently, we begin to think about our goals. In the process of reaching our short and long-term goals we sometimes get overwhelmed and/or distracted. The moment we become aware of our immediate situation, is the moment we recognize we need to get back on track, stay focused and continue our journey in the school of life.
Throughout this reading instead of using the word “you”, we will use the personal pronouns “I”, “my” and “me” to help us internalize this as something I need to embrace and do. Having said that, these are our thoughts on ways to move towards self-improvement.
Mental and Emotional Health is Key
According to nutritional psychiatrist, studies have shown what I feed my brain has a direct connection to what I feed my stomach good, bad or otherwise. Simply stated, I eat according to how I feel. Notice for some people when I’m nervous, I eat or drink something to settle my stomach. When I’m feeling great, I eat any and everything I like. Said another way, my stomach has a brain inside of it that connects to the brain inside my head.
This is where scientists and nutritional psychiatry come together to enlighten our awareness. Both teach us that our brain releases a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is what my brain produces and sends to my stomach or gastrointestinal tract. The inner workings of my stomach is protected by the lining that helps me not only digest food but also guides my emotions.
In other words, when I’m feeling okay to fantastic my food will digest within my stomach lining with ease. Bacteria and toxins do not set up and become the internal enemy of my digestive tract. Adding lots of water on a daily basis, helps my stool to flow with ease. On the other hand, when my brain experiences shock, trauma, unpreparedness, or worry and depression the neurotransmitter in my brain called serotonin is sent to the brain in my stomach and my whole body reacts. Depending upon the level of mental and/or emotional happiness or pain I eat or drink accordingly.
To that end, we strongly suggest to prevent oneself from setting their health up for failure, I need to take a moment to regroup and reflect on how did I get to this point and what am I willing to do to get my life balanced again? Who or what influenced me to do what I’m doing to myself? The answer to my question will be the difference maker in moving towards self-improvement. The more positive experiences I encounter, the better I will feel and the more likely my brain will assist me in my recovery. In the end it’s up to me to put in the valuable work to get the results I’m seeking.
Mental and Emotional Rest is Powerful
No one knows their body better than the person who is breaking it down with hours of work and excessive fun. When the brain and body is tired, it will let us know and say “I need rest” We need to listen to it Unbeknownst to our immediate awareness during the time of getting rest our brain and body is still working. The stomach is still processing the food we have collected and chewed on throughout the day. While we’re sleeping our stomach is also preparing to eliminate what I don’t need.
When I don’t get enough sleep, I pay a price. The consequences of sleep deprivation is my tired brain and stomach releases a hunger hormone called ghrelin. That’s the hormone that is produced in the stomach and small amounts in the small intestines, pancreas and our brain. We sometimes associate ghrelin with term “hunger pangs” When we’re hungry for food we want to eat fast. Consequently the term fast food enters into our hands, mouth and stomach.
On the other hand, when my brain is well rested it releases another type of hormone called leptin or an appetite suppressant. This suppressant helps us to suppress hunger and don’t over-eat the wrong types of food that would otherwise cause weight gain along the waistline. According to nutritionists in the field, there is a diet called the leptin diet. Using the word leptin makes us aware of the hormone released in our brain to our stomach. In short, the leptin diet consists of a wide range of vegetables, fruits, protein sources such as fish, chicken and turkey. That being said, I should think about the power I give my brain and body when I allow it to rest.
Physical Exercise is Enlightening
In addition to the mental and emotional food and rest required for our brain and body, we also need to include physical exercise. Physical exercise is not just about losing weight, gaining muscle, improve one’s sex life or add years to one’s life. Physical exercise is also good because it revives feeling energetic throughout the day, sharpens up our memory, sleep better and creates a feeling positive self-image. When I look at physical exercise as a medicine, it becomes the type of medicine that keeps my healthy blood cells flowing. Healthy blood cells help my body to fight back diseases and mental illness or challenges such as depression, anxiety and stress. In the end, this type of medicine called physical exercise is far cheaper than me paying for the meds I would be prescribed by the doctor if I didn’t exercise.
Spiritual Food is Soul Food
Finally, in the midst of the mental, emotional and physical responsibilities one has to take in consideration, there is also the spiritual component that dwells within us as well. Because the human spirit is synonymous to the word “soul”, it’s important to understand the definition of the human soul? Categorized as a noun the term “soul” has two meanings. The first is the soul is defined as a spiritual or immaterial part of us regarded as immortal. The soul never dies. It lives in you forever. The second is the emotional or intellectual energy or intensity as it is revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.
What we feed our human spirit or soul is crucial, because it governs our decision-making throughout the time we’re here on earth alive each day interacting with people who surround us. Take time each day preferably in the morning if not at the end of the day to reflect on your connection to a higher power that lifts you up into maintaining a healthy relationship with your Creator first, then your family, friends and people you meet along the way. Applying these thoughts will help you move closer towards self-improvement in the school of life.
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Written by Mr. Troy Smith, CEO and Founder