It has been said that elections have consequences, most of which half the country would denounce while the other half applauds. For the next few weeks, a lot of good people with different politics are going to argue about today’s results and their consequences.
While many people will agonize about the results of today’s election, elections aren’t the only choices with important consequences. So instead of fretting about which candidate or which party will gain or lose power, take some time today for your own personal election—evaluate what choices are you making and how they will affect five key outcomes in your life.
Your Physical Health
First, elect to take care of your physical body. There is nothing more important than your health, but maintaining (and improving) it takes time, effort, and discipline. For instance, there are negative consequences of not getting enough quality sleep. Getting more and better sleep will improve your physical health, your mental health, and your attitude. It will also improve your energy, allowing you to be more effective in every other area of your life.
One way to prepare for good sleep is to exercise, using your muscles to move your body through space. The consequences of not exercising include poor structure, weak muscles that have atrophied from lack of use, poor energy and endurance, and dozens of other problems that worsen over time. You can avoid these negative consequences by taking care of your physical body each day.
And then there is my personal nemesis when it comes to health: hydration. I drink coffee like healthy people drink water, and I drink water like they drink coffee. A large part of your physical body is water. Research suggests that most of us walk around dehydrated, a problem that is easily remedied by drinking water throughout the day.
Finally, you should practice good nutrition, maybe the most difficult challenge of all. There is a consensus that healthy food is the best medicine, and that eating less junk—and eating it less often—improves your health, reduces your risk of chronic illness, and increases longevity.
Your Mental Health
Second, elect to take care of your mental, emotional, and psychological health. Take regular time to be alone with your thoughts. Whether you choose to meditate, spend more time in nature, keep a journal, or practice contemplative prayer, it’s important to stay grounded.
As you have no doubt noticed, life comes with a good bit of stress and conflict, even when it’s not an election year. It’s important to mitigate that stress in whatever way works for you. Those who don’t do enough about stress and conflict can easily be infected with negativity, scarcity, pessimism, and fear.
Third, elect to take care of your future now. Few financial outcomes are worse than being saddled with a large amount of consumer debt. Interest payments can balloon out of control until it is impossible for you to pay down your debt, so the best way to get out of the proverbial hole is to stop digging. Those who complain about the government’s deficit spending would do well to avoid it themselves, especially since only the government is allowed to print money.
There are also consequences for saving too little money. You miss a lot of growth when you wait to start saving money, even if you are only able to save a small amount. The later you start, the more growth you miss. Investing what you can, or having someone invest it for you, will help you avoid some negative consequences later in life.
Fourth, elect to take care of your relationships, forgiving any transgressions, and asking to be forgiven for your own infractions. It’s troubling to read about family and friends who part ways over political differences, something that seems to be more common as politicians and the media work to divide us from one another. You can—and should—have friends and family with a perspective that is different from yours. I have friends and family with left-leaning politics, and just as many who lean right, but I love all of them.
There is nothing more consequential to your success as a human being than your relationships. In fact, I would have put it first on this list, but I really want you to get more sleep, exercise, and hydrate! Besides, doing all that will make you less grouchy, which is good for any relationship. Life is short, and you never know how much time you—or the people you love—have remaining.
You are, right now, choosing your future regrets. Don’t let your important relationships be among them!
Finally, elect to do good work and treat it like it’s your art or your craft. We all spend a lot of time at work, whether we commute to an office or work from home. It’s an important part of your life, and it needs to be pursued in a way that adds to your experience. Any work that you pour your heart into is going to be fulfilling, so give it your full focus and intention.
Far too many people don’t bring their best selves to their work, while others deliberately hold back time and effort. Both groups miss the chance to do good work. It’s easy to complain about not finding meaning and purpose in your work, claiming that you don’t do the work you love. It’s much harder to love your work in the first place, and to let that love reveal your work’s meaning and purpose.
Even though it’s important to pay attention to and participate in your democratic republic, it’s equally important to pursue your own bit of happiness—and that starts by electing to take care of yourself.
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Filed under: Mindset