In this day and age, everyone is talking about being more productive and efficient. Social media makes our interactions more efficient and cell phones, tablets and laptops allow us to integrate more productivity into each and every day.

The one thing that few people are talking about is wellness and its relationship to work. We can push ourselves as hard as we want, but at the end of the day, if we are neglecting our overall wellness, our work and life suffers greatly. Just like a car cannot run without oil and gas, we cannot run without care and wellness.

So, What is Wellness?

Society has a tendency to think of wellness as fitness-related or diet-related or health-related behaviors, but fitness, diet and health are only ingredients in this delicious pie.

When we talk about actual wellness, we must look at the entire recipe.

According to the National Wellness Institute (NWI), a nonprofit organization formed to promote wellness globally, wellness is “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” NWI Wellness Definition

NWI founds the above definition on these core wellness tenets:

(1) a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential, (2) a multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being and environment, and (3) positive and affirming.”

In short, wellness is a dynamic and organic approach to life. It is through the application of healthy behaviors and mindsets that wellness is found.

Wellness and Work

We spoke to this topic a lot two weeks ago. There are plenty of ways to incorporate wellness into our work-lives from choosing to take mental breaks, finding joy, using meditation and exercise as tools, eating properly, etc… I think the bigger issue here is not how we go about incorporating wellness into our schedules, but why we must.

Think about your best friend. The joy you feel when spending time with a pet. A hug from your favorite child. What would your life be like without those moments of unbridled joy? Take that scary feeling and apply it to your whole life, each and every day.

What are you left with? Nothing.

 Today we often use deadlines—real and imaginary—to imprison ourselves.” Arianna Huffington, Thrive

Wellness is as much about the mental as it is about the physical. Just as death can result from poor physical health, if we stop tending to our minds, our souls can expire. We find our sense of purpose in the playful moments. If we remove the joy, we remove the purpose. If we remove the purpose we have nothing left.

Imagine how our culture, how our lives, will change when we begin valuing go-givers as much as we value go-getters.” Arianna Huffington, Thrive

Wellness or Well-Less

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” Arianna Huffington, Thrive

Despite full-time residence in The Sunshine State, the past two weeks have been kinda gloomy for me. It wasn’t rainy or overcast – in fact, the weather has been quite lovely. It wasn’t a major setback blocking me or EM from moving forward. Instead, last week was quite the opposite.

It was me and my bad habit of overlooking my wellness. I stopped taking time for myself.

There are a plethora of studies out there proving that human beings have a limit to the number of hours they can be productive each day, week, month, etc… However, I doubt you need to look much further than your own experiences in life. Most of us know there comes a point when our brain can no longer absorb new material, our bodies can no longer physically endure and our spirit can no longer triumph. Most of us also know what it’s like to attempt to work beyond that point. For me, it starts with decreased vocabulary recall for simple words like “of” and “for” and it ends with tears or injury.

Despite knowing the warning signs, despite understanding that more work doesn’t always equate to more success, despite needing wellness in order to continue living – we still rationalize 80 hour work weeks.

Guilt, money, success – these things propel us to push ourselves forward despite the consequences.

Sometimes we become so blinded by a habit or goal that we don’t see that obsession isn’t the same as focus. That endurance isn’t always courageous. That martyring yourself to a thing isn’t the same as sacrifice.

Focus, courage, and sacrifice are things that have very distinct boundaries. Like the adrenaline rush that comes when faced with fight or flight – they serve a specific purpose. They aren’t meant to be applied without limitations or their counterparts. If they were, rest wouldn’t be a requisite of stamina and strength.

Instead, they are part of the balance of binaries – ingredients to a recipe that when paired with joy, vulnerability and self-love create something magical and heroic. When we allow the balance to tip in pursuit of extremes or we choose to live in a state of chaos and fear, we might achieve small victories, but we will never really succeed.

Arianna Huffington has written a wonderful book on this topic called Thrive and I recommend that each of you read it. (You can purchase it here: Amazon: Thrive by Arianna Huffington).

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. ‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy. ‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.’ He continued, ‘The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’ –CHEROKEE LEGEND” -Arianna Huffington, Thrive

Doing Well by Being Well

Over the course of my career, I wasted a lot of time doing what I thought I should do instead of doing what I knew I was meant to do. I placed my value in someone else’s vision and the outcome wasn’t so hot.

Wellness, in its totality, benefits our work by inviting both our physical and mental selves to show up to do the work. When we’re able and excited to be completely present, mindfulness becomes the pathway toward success, and that energy and desire ignites the engine.

Like Arianna says, “Making money and doing good in the world are not mutually exclusive.” But if you want both, you must do the work internally AND externally.

Wrapping Up

By fueling ourselves with wellness, we ignite our own creative fire. In it we create space to find new and better ways to solve old problems. When we are well and treat ourselves with kindness, we are full and able to give a part of ourselves (never the whole thing) to our work.

Wellness keeps us healthy and clear. We are able to process emotions fluidly, make decisions that are true to our hearts and give to others that need something from us. The single best thing you can do for your career is this: be well.

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