Living Life to the Fullest

Living a fuller healthier life.

So, after a rough year in 2018, I made two lifestyle changes: I started meditating and started going to the gym again. The latter more recently than the former.

I didn’t just come up with this idea. To be honest, I think I got whipped into it by my friend, Joan, who has been somewhat of a motivation to me over the last year.

I have also come to realize that religion or religiosity sometimes prevents us from living our best lives. In fact, religiosity is what kills us.

As Christians, we believe that God has blessed us with “divine” perfect health. Jesus Christ died so that we may have life and live abundantly. And of course, “by His strips we are healed”. But we also forget that God gave us this body to dwell in on this earth to live a full life. We are not just body, neither are we just soul and spirit. We are all 3 together and each one relies on the other.

We need to take care of all three aspects of us in order to live that full life that we all desire. You cannot be all spiritual and neglect your body; neither can you be all soul and neglect your spirit and ditto for being all spirit neglecting your soul. If you neglect any of these parts of us, be rest assured that you WILL die.

Recently, I lost my brother to stroke brought on by extreme high blood pressure. Although I am still grappling with the facts and reality of what happened, I know that he was duped of millions of Naira a while ago and he had invested a lot of his time, energy and emotions in trying to seek redress and get back his money. I realize now that this must have affected him more than we thought we knew.

I guess that he didn’t realize he had a high blood pressure. He recently joined a church, a spiritual church where they told him that someone was trying to kill him. So, when he began to feel the symptoms of the HBP, rather than go to the hospital to get himself checked, he went to church for prayers. Subsequently, he got a stroke at the church one day and after a few weeks, he passed away.

I learnt as a child that you don’t cry over spilled milk, but this is only in a matter of speaking. But if only he had gone to the hospital to get himself checked out instead of the church to seek spiritual help, maybe he would have still been with us today. So many “if onlys” but that’s all they are…if only.

A lot of us are like this today. Making this same mistake repeatedly and putting religiosity above everything else. I recall a time when I was still working at Sage, we had gone out for a cancer awareness walk and were handing out fliers in Lagos Island. While giving people the fliers, as soon as they saw the topic, they screamed, “God forbid! it is not my portion!!” and threw the fliers away instead of reading the information on the flier.

Do you know that early detection of cancer increases the chances of survival? A lot of people who die from cancer do so because detection and treatment started late. Even HIV is not a death sentence if it is detected and combated early. People who have been diagnosed with HIV continue to live healthy lives and have healthy families.

High Blood Pressure brought on by stress is killing a lot of young people today. Why are we so stressed out? We are stressed out because of a desire to impress our peers. To live in that house that we can’t afford. To drive that car that we can’t afford. To be seen to be better than who we are.

If only we could step back from the madness that has become our lives and see that we are not defined by what we are or think we are in this physical world. If only we could look inward and realize that we are capable of infinite possibilities and we have all we need to survive in this life and stop struggling. I am not talking about all we need to impress or oppress other people. I mean to live decent, comfortable lives and positively influence the lives of those around us.

One of the ways to step back is by going within to discover our true selves through meditation. Sometimes, we need to step away from the madness around us and step into that inner quiet to achieve inner peace which reflects on our outer bodies.

I cannot over emphasize the importance of exercise. This is coming from a couch potato like me. Our bodies are made to be active and not docile. Exercise stimulates your heart and your brain. It increases your energy levels and releases the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which helps relieve feelings of depression. Am I speaking with someone yet? More and more people are reportedly committing suicide brought on by depression and a lack of desire to live.

Eating healthy is also another way of taking care of your body. Try to eat a balanced diet. More fruits, vegetables and nuts and less “indomie” noodles (I am talking to myself now), “amala” and “pounded yam”.

For goodness sake, go for medical checkups also. If you are over 40 years old, check your blood pressure more regularly. If you feel sick, go to the hospital. God gave us doctors for a reason; stop self-medicating. If God didn’t see a need for doctors, He would not have made provision for them. Don’t always assume you have malaria and kill your liver and kidneys through self-medication. And for crying out loud, stop drinking “agbo”! At least not until enough research has been done to tell us the proper dosage and for what ailment.

Do I need to tell you about the dangers of smoking or re-emphasize the need to reduce alcohol consumption? I don’t think so.

And above all. Love yourself. Give yourself a treat. Invest in memory creating activities like going on holiday. You don’t have to be super rich to go on holiday with your family and/or partner. There are so many amazing resorts in Nigeria that you can hideaway to. I realize that as  people, we don’t like others, we don’t like our neighbors because we do not like ourselves. Learn to love yourself so that self-love can be transferred to others and we can be more compassionate to the plight of others. Maybe this will help us to become better people, a better society and a healthier nation.

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