Very recently, The Evolution of Medicine and the Dandelion Foundation sponsored an event called the Journey to 100. The premise of the one-day conference on Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel, was to help Guernsey become the very first country to become a "Blue Zone". What's a Blue Zone, you ask?
The concept of a Blue Zone was established in 2004 by Dan Buettner and a team from National Geographic, as well as the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people live measurably longer and better. In these “Blue Zones” they found that people reach age 100 at rates ten times greater than in the United States.
In advance of the conference, the Evolution of Medicine asked it's functional medicine community to share their thoughts on what should constitute the "Ten Principles of Health Creation"; those things that will allow a group of people to live well into their tenth decade. These principles were announced during the conference by James Maskell, the Founder of the Evolution of Medicine.
I was inspired by these principles and hope that you will find them refreshing and encouraging. Below, I give you below The Ten Principles of Health Creation, as well as our take on how they can make a difference for you, as "Health Creation" is a cornerstone of the Stepwise Health functional medicine coaching model.
1. Find purpose
You are a unique person and there is no one else like you on this Earth. You are here for a reason. Your gifts need to be shared. What's your "Why"? What guides you each and every day? What matters most to you? These are some clues to help you discover your purpose. If you haven't discovered clues toward it yet, don't worry. Taking time regularly to meditate and/or pray on these questions will allow your mind to broaden and you will begin to find your way. Whatever your belief system, God, the Universe, or whomever, or whatever, will help you.
2. Environment is everything
As my dad used to say "You can't mess with your genes, but your genes can mess with you." Very true, especially if the environment in which your genes are exposed is not optimal. You may not have control of every aspect of your environment, but you can adjust many parts of it- what you eat, what you drink, how you move, how you relax, how you structure your life, etc. Adjustments can be critical because it can determine if your genes express either health or disease. Small steps here can make a large impact.
3. Health is a skill
Skills can be learned and developed with practice. Take one small step in that direction - today. Don't think too much about it. Just start doing one thing right now that serves your wellbeing. Spend time alone in nature. Eat one more serving of colorful vegetables a day. Whatever your body is telling you it needs, deep breaths, time to rest, time to play... Indulge in making that one commitment today, and then tomorrow and the following days until you don't think about it anymore, you just do it.
4. The power of community
Humans are wired for connection. We need to be around other human beings. The quality and quantity of social relationships directly influence our mental health, as well as reduce age-related mortality rate. We live longer and we live better when we connect with other people. If you are part of a community, be consistent in engaging with it. If you aren't yet, find a group of people who share a common interest with you and go there, often.
5. Responsibility for Inputs
Think about what you consume, what you breathe, what you apply to your body, what you feed into your brain- images, thoughts, media, etc. This forms the lens through which you see the world and has a direct impact on how your body functions. Yes, there is, in fact, a connection between your mindset and your body. If you consistently subject your brain to positive thoughts, for instance, your body will respond in a positive way.
6. Congruence with nature
Just as a plant cannot grow without clean water, fresh air, lots of sunshine and good soil, people are really no different. Think about how human bodies are designed and what we have been doing for thousands upon thousands of years. Drink water, eat lots of food that grew from the Earth. Your body is designed to be move, so move it in a way that is enjoyable to you. Your brain was designed to be challenged consistently, but also rested often. Surround yourself with love, positivity, gets lots of fresh air and sunshine.
7. Harnessing technology
We have a great deal of technology at our fingertips to help us be healthier. Put on your fitness tracker if you haven't worn it in awhile (note to self...). Sign up for a meditation app like Headspace or an exercise app. Use it, rinse and repeat.
8. Knowing thyself
There is a Sioux creation myth that reads: "The Creator gathered all of Creation and said "I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality." The eagle said, "Give it to me, I will take it to the moon." The Creator said, "No. One day they will go there and find it." The salmon said, "I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean." "No, they will go there too." The buffalo said, "I will bury it on the Great Plains." The Creator said, "They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there." Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes, but sees with spiritual eyes, said "Put it inside of them." And the Creator said, "It is done."
Look inward and spend time on self-reflection. It's always intrigued me that as humans, part of our journey is learning about ourselves. We're not born knowing what has been entrusted to us to give in this world. Yet it's there and we must seek it. Learn what makes you tick. Learn what strengths you have. Be keenly aware always of what's right within you.
9. Therapeutic order
There is extreme value in focusing on the least expensive, least invasive interventions first in medicine. Health creation begins with our lifestyle. Prioritizing our lifestyle now can save us countless healthcare dollars in our future.
I love this one. The Evolution of Medicine community purposely left number ten open. I suppose it was to leave it up to you to determine. Medicine is moving toward a "P4 model": Predictive, Preventative, Personalized and Participatory.
So, I think this is our invitation to participate and personalize our own health creation. What's your number 10? What else will you do to create your own individualized, very best health?