In Warren Buffett’s biography, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, the Oracle of Omaha shares a fable with a group of students where a genie appeared to him at age 16 and offered him the car of his choice.
Taking up the genie’s offer, the genie tells Buffett there’s a catch. His dream car would have to last a lifetime because it would be the last car Buffett would ever own. Understanding the predicament, Buffett would be sure to read the manual “about five times,” always keep his car garaged and fix even the smallest dents or scratches ASAP to protect it from rusting. “I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime,” Buffett tells the students.
The moral of the story.
Then Buffett relates this tale back to the students with a real lesson about the business of life and the two things we should never neglect, ever:
“That’s exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body. You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck 40 years later, just like the car would be. It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate 10, 20, and 30 years from now.”
Mind and body. You know, I’ve done a lot of reading and research over the years about putting Buffett’s advice of “taking care of mind and body” into practice. The list of tips and ideas to keep you functioning at an optimum level, as suggested by the latest research and experts in the fields of health and wellness, are endless.
Let’s simplify. Certain universal principles tied to both mind and body rarely change over the years. Here are the six habits that I posit make the most sense for the busy professional or entrepreneur, three that benefit your mind and three that benefit your body.
Taking care of your mind.
We’ll start with keeping the mind healthy because without it, no part of you will function at a high level.
The benefits of meditation include lowering your stress levels, improving your focus, and even boosting your immunity, to name a few. While some people will spend 10-20 minutes sitting in quiet space and listening to focused breathing, if that’s not your thing, simply use this time everyday to cultivate peace of mind and restore yourself mentally and emotionally, in whatever manner works best for you.
A great tool to help take care of your mind is to journal about your experiences. It’s also a great way to demonstrate self-compassion. I say this because we often neglect our own needs, so keeping a journal is a way to connect with yourself, raise self-awareness,
forgive, and learn about your needs and desires. The key to journaling is raw honesty: you should feel free to let your guard down and discover how you really feel about your life circumstances in a safe, non-threatening manner.
3. Connect (with people).
Countless studies over the years have determined that social connection leads to increased happiness and better health. In fact, if you consider yourself a “lone ranger,” someone who prefers to isolate and “disappear,” a word of caution: One well-known study found that people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties.
Taking care of your body.
Even if your mind is strong and stable, neglecting your body means cheating yourself out of contributing fully to your life and the life of others.
You’re probably aware of the “Open Letter to Elon Musk” that Arianna Huffington published on Thrive Global, where she tactfully calls out the founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla for his irresponsible and erratic, 120-hour per week workload. Huffington cites researchshowing that after 17-19 hours without sleep, “we begin to experience levels of cognitive impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, just under the threshold for being legally drunk.” She adds, “No business leader would hire people who came to work drunk, so don’t model that behavior for your employees.”
Even if you hate going to the gym, a short burst of fun cardio activity in under 20 minutes (think brisk walking, dancing, jumping on a trampoline, or working in the garden) makes a huge difference both physically and mentally. According to Harvard Medical School, “exercise lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, helps blood sugar balance and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.”
Let’s face it, most of us are addicted to our devices, but we take that term–“addiction”–lightly when it comes to using them. It’s time to change that perception because, according to research, overuse of your smartphone can result in a number of different physical problems, including:
- Digital eye strain and blurred vision, which can cause headaches.
- Neck problems, also known as “text neck,” resulting from looking down for too long.
- Increased illnesses due to germs. Did you know that 1 in 6 cell phones has fecal matter on it?
- Car accidents. Research has found that texting and driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.
- If you’re male, research found that cell phone radiation “adversely affects the quality of semen by decreasing the sperm counts, motility, viability, and morphology.”
- Using your mobile device before bed increases the chances for insomnia.
While I won’t say Buffett does all of these things I’ve outlined, his words are words to live by. Notably, at age 88, the billionaire’s mind is still sharp as a tack, and he’s obviously in good physical health to be as active as he is. We can all learn from his life and legacy.
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Originally published on Inc.com.