“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius

Overload has become the norm.

Every single day, we’re barraged with copious amounts of information. We’re told how to spend our time, what to eat, and where to go. While we search endlessly for the answer, we usually end up where we began: in a bottomless well.

When you add in factors such as the rise of automated technology, increasing choices, and the pressure to keep up, is it any wonder that we feel swallowed up in it all?

The research that we find often conflicts with each other. One moment, all the studies point to a certain result. The next, they’re disproven and a new theory comes up. The cycle continues.

But there is a better approach. When you peel away all the layers, the fundamentals of living well have always remained the same.

You know them already — here’s a refresher.

1. Air.

It seems so simple. After all, breathing in air is the most instinctive activity a human can perform. But when complexities find their ways into our lives, we begin to breathe poorly.

Over time, our poor breathing habits build up and become hard to change.

When you feel stressed, you tend to either freeze up and forget to breathe, or take shallow breaths from your chest. These bad breathing habits, in turn, perpetuate feelings of stress and anxiety.

So do this right now: sit up straight, inhale through your nose to your stomach (which is where your diaphragm lies), count to three, then exhale slowly through your mouth.

Pause. Repeat.

2. Food.

Forget fads. Eating well comes down to eating natural, healthy foods. That means aiming for foods where you can recognize the ingredients that go into the final product.

A good diet includes mostly fruits and vegetables, some starch, and some meat. Or if you prefer other protein sources, then beans and soy are good choices too.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” Hippocrates said.

A nutritious, healthy diet is the foundation to a healthy life. No matter what you want to achieve, health is your top priority. Without it, the other parts of your life suffer.

3. Movement.

A sedentary lifestyle has become the norm in society. Whether we’re sitting or standing, our jobs require us to stay in a stationary position for several hours at a time. The problem is, our bodies weren’t made to sit or stand in one place for so long.

Find ways to incorporate more movements into your everyday life. If you’re not a fan of the gym, there are other ways to get your blood flowing. Just start moving.

Go for a walk in the park during your break. Explore a part of town you haven’t seen. Dance while you brush your teeth. Find a way to move wherever and whenever you can.

You’ll feel a lot better afterward.

4. Sleep.

Sleep is not optional. Sleep is not an impediment to success. It’s the exact opposite: sleep is a crucial ingredient to success.

A lot of people pride themselves on how little they sleep. They speak of it as though it makes them more capable and ambitious than the next person.

But as Arianna Huffington explained, “I studied, I met with medical doctors, scientists, and I’m here to tell you that the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is: getting enough sleep.”

Why should you get enough sleep every night?

Because you benefit from the following:

  • increased productivity
  • more creativity
  • higher attention levels
  • lower anxiety and stress levels
  • greater peace of mind

After a hard day’s work, you need sleep to help your body recover and prepare for the next day. Seven to nine hours a night is optimal for adults.

5. Purpose.

Everybody needs a purpose in life. It’s what makes you excited to wake up each morning and feel fulfilled when you rest at night.

When you discover something that drives you forward, you develop a positive outlook on life. You begin to see the future clearly. You have a reason to live.

As you create your sense of purpose, the other facets of your life start to come together. You improve your relationships with the people around you, you add value to your community, and you learn how to spend your time.

When you figure out what to do with your life, it’s an incredibly powerful feeling.

You know how retirement is linked to a shorter lifespan? While you might not be able to control how long you work in a position, you can choose to work on projects outside work that excite you.

Successful people often take up projects outside their main role, whether it be a charity, personal hobby, or business venture. It gives them new ideas, keeps them mentally sharp, and helps them perform other roles in their life. You too can do the same.

Take Away the Inessentials

When you distill life down to these five concepts, everything becomes simpler.

By focusing on these things, you can provide your life with more meaningful experiences. Your actions in one aspect of your life flow into another like an interconnected web, strengthening you as a whole.

When you take away things that don’t improve your life, you start to focus more on the things that do. You start to live each day with greater impact. Then you begin to live well.

Originally Published on Medium.

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