Archived Story

Sharp: Being your best self

Published 11:00pm Thursday, January 23, 2014

In my weekly column, I often advise readers to be their best self. While that seems like a relatively simple thing to do, it’s actually one of the most challenging things you can do in your life.

So, what does it mean to be your best self? It’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Since every individual has their own goals and aspirations, no two individuals’ ideal selves will be the same.

The most important thing to remember about achieving your ideal self is that all aspects of your self must be in balance. While every personality has numberless components, for sake of ease, I will split the self in to three distinct categories: the physical self; the mental self; and the spiritual self.

Your ideal physical self is probably the easiest to envision, but the hardest to achieve. In order to determine your ideal physical self, simply close your eyes and imagine what you want to look like. This is different for every person, and there is no wrong answer.

While it is nice to look aesthetically pleasing, what is more important when it comes to the physical self is health. While it is impossible to prevent all disease, there are a few simple things you can do to decrease the likelihood of catching an infectious disease and to make yourself feel better on a day-by-day basis.

The easiest thing you can do to feel a little better every day is to exercise for 30-60 minutes a day. This does not have to be vigorous exercise. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block. Even exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day will cause your body to release endorphins, which will make you feel better physically and mentally.

Another easy way to improve your overall health is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. As an experiment, try tracking how many calories you eat every day for a week. You may be surprised at how many calories you actually eat in a day. The average adult should be eating between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day. If your total is significantly higher than this, consider lowering your total intake.

Maintaining the mental self is a lifelong challenge. What many people forget is that learning is a perpetual endeavor. Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate.

There are a number of benefits to keeping the mind active on a daily basis. For one, it’s always exciting to learn new things. Second, as we age, our minds, just like our bodies, start to break down. By doing a little mental exercise every day, you can lower the likelihood of contracting dementia or Alzheimer’s in your later years.

There are a number of ways to stay mentally active, but my favorite is far-and-away reading. Reading for 30 minutes a day is great way to both keep the mind active and to continue learning after school ends. I recommend finding a subject that you are interested in and then reading a book on that subject for about a half hour before you go to bed.

Finally, we come to the spiritual self. Even if you are not religious, you can imagine the spiritual self as the part of you that feels happy and fulfilled.

Many people find this inner happiness through religion. One important thing that churches can provide is a feeling of family and community. Humans are naturally social creatures. Without human interaction, many people feel unfulfilled in their lives. It’s important to feel like you are a part of something.

With the way the modern world is, however, it can sometimes be difficult to find a place where you belong. My best advice is to be sociable and to try to make friends with everyone you meet. Obviously, there will be some people that you just don’t get along with. Don’t let that discourage you, though. Do your best to make time for social interaction with family and friends. You’ll feel the better for it.

Perhaps the most important advice I can give is this: Develop a strong will. No matter how tightly you plan your life, things won’t always go the way you want. The best way to get through these times is to stay determined and work hard to make your life better. Having strong willpower will make this much easier.

 

Jeb Sharp is a staff writer for The Messenger. You can contact him by e-mail at jeb.sharp@troymessenger with comments.

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