I started experiencing back pain around the time I turned 50. When I went to the doctor she told me, “John, you are at that age where every morning you will wake up with pain somewhere.” Wow! Talk about a wake-up call. Luckily, she didn’t leave it at that. She also gave me some specific stretching and strengthening exercises to help with the pain—and when I take the time to do them, they do help.
The reality is that without care and attention, things break down – our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. As we start this new year, I suggest that we each increase our capacity by taking time to regularly renew ourselves in each of the four dimensions of life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
- Increasing or maintaining your physical capacity includes getting regular physical activity, taking time for rest and relaxation, eating a balanced diet, and doing other activities that revitalize the body and give you energy. For many, getting too little sleep is a culprit. Remember what Andy Rooney said: “Go to bed. Whatever you’re staying up late for isn’t worth it.”
- To increase your mental capacity, consider activities such as keeping a journal, reading, taking up a hobby, or continuing your education—anything that broadens and strengthens the mind. Be a student of whatever field you choose. Read voraciously. Mark Twain stated: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
- Activities that increase your emotional capacity can include regular social activity with friends and family, learning to listen with empathy, valuing the differences in others, increasing your circle of friends, and forgiving yourself and others. Forgiveness can be a power tool for increasing emotional capacity. As Lewis Smedes said: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
- Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, define spiritual capacity as “the energy that is unleashed by tapping into one’s deepest values and defining a strong sense of purpose.” Your spiritual capacity is a powerful source of motivation, focus, and resilience. You may build your spiritual capacity by connecting with nature, reading inspirational literature, living in integrity, listening to uplifting music, engaging in meditation and/or prayer, or other activities that nourish the soul.
Author Rumer Godden may have said it best: “Everyone is a house with four rooms: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”
What are some things you plan to do in the new year to renew yourself?
About the author:
John Hester is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies who specializes in performance and self-leadership.