After walking the Camino de Santiago, I came to see that Life is like the Camino. On the Camino, I had diverse experiences, met wonderful people, faced challenges, and saw things I never expected. Part of my secret sauce for making my Camino memorable was bringing joy to every aspect.
Just as I brought joy to my Camino, I’ve come to learn how important joy is to a healthy life. I think joy is a vital building block to a positive mindset. I see a strong connection between Life, the Camino, and a Longevity Mindset.
I’ve talked with lots of people who don’t understand Longevity. They often don’t even understand the Longevity recipe of healthspan plus lifespan. In my conversations, people almost resist the idea of improving their health, and especially living longer. That baffles me. The professionals who are working in the longevity field are just as baffled by the resistance to an improved life and extended lifespan. (I’ve been invited to speak to a group of them in May 2022 about developing a longevity mindset.)
During a conversation, a high school friend offered a clue to this mystery. We were talking recently, sharing the things we’re doing with our exercise and intermittent fasting – specifically a short eating window. I asked if he’d changed his diet as well. His answer surprised me: he likes his diet and doesn’t want to change. His actions and attitude felt like a disconnect, and that led me to call him the next night to explore.
We brainstormed. We pondered. He said people are afraid of change — and especially death — and would rather stick with what they know, even if it means a low-quality of life. Since I know a bit about fear, having created and lead several classes on transforming fear, I was surprised I hadn’t thought of that myself.
What’s the antidote to fear? We concluded that joy eases fear: you can’t hold fear and joy at the same time.
I think a big missing ingredient of that recipe is Joy: Longevity Mindset = Lifespan + Healthspan + Joy.
Become Your Life CEO
As part of enjoying the above recipe, we need to decide to become the CEO of our lives and take control of our decisions and actions. Then we need the courage to question the outdated assumptions that limit our ability to use the tools and advancements science and medicine are forging.
Have you heard the concept that an undirected mind tends to go to fear? To get past fear, we need to direct our minds. That requires that we learn to master our minds so that our internal world is in charge rather than our external world.
People too often fear being an outlier, going “against” conventional wisdom of the medical field and friends. Part of the emotional reaction to change is found in the ties people have to their homes. They don’t leave their homes in natural disaster areas because that’s where their lives are based. They rebuild so they can stay where they are, where their hearts and homes are. In a similar way, they don’t change their lifestyles because what they do is “their home”.
People have a lot of emotion around their home base. If you are aware that the quality of your life reflects the quality of your habitual emotions, then you better understand the choices you and others make. Where we live emotionally determines what our lives are really like.
Being unaware of our emotional habits, we create an environment that guides us back home, home to the emotions we’ve made habitual. Your emotional pattern follows you like a shadow — until you consciously and deliberately draw a line in the sand and make changes.
We are creators of our own meaning. We experience what we focus on — where our focus goes our energy flows. People interpret events of their outside world as a way of going home — to their emotional home — because they are products of their patterns and habits. That cycle can change when we take control.
When people start taking 100% responsibility for their life experiences and become the CEO of their life and health, they can awaken to a truth that will make all the difference in their world. People get to decide what events mean and what they are going to do about them. By doing this consciously and consistently, people can change the quality of their lives.
Everyone has the power to decide on what to focus, what things mean, and what they are going to do. The question is whether they have mastered their minds and can use their power to their best benefit, to their best advantage. Are people going to use their minds to decide to be healthy or sick, fearful or joyful?
Our DNA and our biography are not our destiny. We have control over 80% of our lives. It’s not our condition, but our decisions that determine the quality of our lives. Having the mind mastery to take that control is the crux of our challenges in getting our work accepted and adopted. Do our people ultimately want to suffer a little today as they develop healthier habits, or are they willing to not change and end up suffering a lot tomorrow because that’s where their emotional home guides them?
We need to master our external world as well as our internal world so that we can quit reacting to what happens right in front of us. Life happens for us, not to us. Growth comes from struggle.
Lessons Along The Way
Lessons I learned along my Camino experience taught me that when I simplify my world, take one step at a time, and drop expectations life is more joyous. I found less fear as my joy increased. These lessons helped me get a different perspective about life and I found the beauty around me, found solutions to challenges, I found growth and peace. Life is like the Camino and a Longevity Mindset.
You can decrease fear by increasing joy. Fear and joy can’t be held simultaneously. This then begs the question of how do you increase joy?
Joy and happiness are muscles that grow the more we use them. Gratitude and appreciation also are muscles and grow with use. Developing the habit — creating the pattern — of joy, gratitude, and appreciation you can avoid the path of pain.
I have four techniques I use with my clients to help them overcome fear and to increase their joy. Curious, accept and adapt, present, and open. Apply those to your life and watch the joy grow.
It Takes More Than Knowledge
For most people, all of the science in the world won’t get them to embrace their longevity. Transforming their fear into joy will help them adopt a healthier lifestyle and live a better life. That supports you in developing your longevity mindset.
There’s an old Camino greeting I’ll leave you with: Ultrea. It means onward and upward with joy.
Last, it’s not good enough to nod at all of this and do nothing. You have to take action and put it to work. If you need help, that’s what coaches like me do for a living.