“Every thought, feeling, and emotion of your life—what you do, what you don’t do—is controlled by your beliefs, your values, and your rules.”
I don’t think I’ve been shy in stating just how important I believe perspective is to leading a Happy, Healthy, Strong Life. Perspective guides your decisions, your decisions guide your habits, and your habits shape the way your entire life plays out.
But what if you want a change? What if you’re not happy with some aspect(s) of your life, and you want to make improvements?
While changing your behaviors is an obvious solution, it’s important to understand that it’s also a temporary one if it isn’t accompanied by a change in perspective.
Initially, this article was going to be all about one thing you can do to start changing (or continue to change) your life for the better. But upon further reflection, I’ve decided it really needs to be broken into two discrete steps.
Step 1: Accept That Some of the Things You “Know” Are Actually Assumptions
This is not a bad thing.
Learning is a necessary and unavoidable part of being a sentient creature, but the amount of learning we need to do to survive and thrive in this world necessitates taking some things at face value. We couldn’t possibly research and verify every bit of information that we store away in our brains.
So sometimes, we hear/see/read/observe something and make an assumption about its veracity, its context, or its meaning. Not a big deal. It happens constantly, because it has to.
Now, the word “assumption” carries with it a pretty negative connotation, so it can be difficult to look at it from that viewpoint. But c’mon. Think about it. It’s true.
And again, it’s not a bad thing. Have you admitted it?
Ok, cool. Moving on...
Step 2: Challenge Your Assumptions
If you want to see changes in your life, you’re going to have to make changes in your life.
Unfortunately, this often leaves us battling with the “conventional wisdom” when it comes to health and fitness goals. But once you’ve truly accepted Step 1, you can start to view what you “know” through a different filter.
Specifically, that filter is “Is that really true?...”
I’m not here to tell you that everything you know about health and fitness is wrong. That would be silly. But I would like to encourage you to start thinking differently. Start questioning. Start being skeptical.
Start challenging your assumptions.
This seems like a good place to quote Einsten:
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I see this a lot in the fat loss space. People follow what they’ve heard or read or been told or just somehow “know” about losing weight, and the results are never as promised. But they keep it up year after year, repeating the same pattern and never questioning the very framework of what they’re doing.
Challenge those assumptions. Think differently. It’s a scary endeavor, but don’t be afraid of it.
As Penn Gillette* is fond of saying, "An intellectual is someone whose mind can be changed with information."
[*I'm not positive he coined the phrase - he's just the only person I've heard say it.]
Easier Said Than Done
I understand that challenging your assumptions can be a difficult task to undertake. Where do you even start?
To help get your own creatively-skeptical juices flowing, here are some examples from my own life—some health-related, some not—of things I had a pretty deep-set belief in but completely changed my mind about.
When I first heard about Paleo, I assumed it was another fad diet. Another BS attempt to earn a profit at the expense of the desires and desperation of the overweight.
As it turns out, though, Paleo is actually more of a framework for living your life than a set of dietary rules and restrictions. It’s a lens through which to view your daily habits and choices.
This realization has completely changed my life.
Don’t get me wrong - Paleo is not flawless. With its rise in popularity came a rise in absolutely garbage recommendations, interpretations, and bastardizations of the original concept. But the fact remains that the new lens Paleo provided me has completely shifted the way I think about health and fitness.
To be honest, I’m not sure where my initial thoughts on Tony Robbins came from. And if you think about it, that might be the problem. I never really looked into it: I just assumed that he was a hack; a faith healer; an overly-religious motivational swindler who was only after your money.
If you know anything about Tony Robbins, you know I was dead wrong. My opinion might even come off as incredibly naive and ridiculous. And you know what? IT WAS! My view of him was based on nothing more than assumptions that stemmed from I don’t even know where.
In truth, Tony Robbins is a generous, intelligent, passionate, driven, and astoundingly insightful man who has spent his life earning his wealth through helping people (and some smart business decisions, obviously).
In fact, I got this article’s opening quote from him on an episode Tim Ferriss’s podcast. I thought it was quite fitting.
Like most people, my view of meditation never really went much deeper than “Seems like bullshit. Next!”
It automatically fell into the category of floofy, hippy-dippy, unscientific baloney. Why look into meditation when I’m not trying to align my chakras? Heck, I don’t even have access to a mountain top, let alone ample time to sit in silence on one!
But again, I’ve completely changed my mind. I now have my own meditation practice, and the benefits are absolutely undeniable.
Talk about religion? On the internet?
Ha! No, thanks.
This is a pretty divisive and sensitive topic. And I’ll reiterate, for CYA purposes, that I am not a doctor.
But now that I’ve said that, I’ll say this: I absolutely DO NOT believe in the high cholesterol causes heart disease farce.
Topics like this can be difficult, even scary, to change your mind about. And I’m not going to try to convince you. What I will do, though, is encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself.
The Concept of Investing, Healthy Whole Grains, Carbohydrates, Medicine/Pharmaceuticals…
The more I learn, the less I take information for granted.
I'm not here to tell you what to do or how to think or what to believe.
But I am here to tell you that you don't have to accept things the way they are. If you don't like something, change it. If something isn't working, question it.
Don't settle for anything less.