Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The 3 Components of Life

A very wise women once told me that there are three components in life that a person has to take care of in order to be fulfilled and happy. Many people know about two of them, but they tend to forget about the third. These components are the physical, mental, and emotional parts of oneself. Each part needs to be taken care of, since all three are extremely important. The physical part includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, resting, and sleeping well. The mental part has to do with keeping your mind active, anywhere from reading a book to researching topics online. It is important to have a wide range of mental activities, especially if you work in a job that only utilizes a few types of thinking. The third and final component that needs to be tended to is the emotional component. This is the one that seems to be forgotten the most, but it is just as important as eating healthy and staying mentally sharp. The emotional sphere is comprised of the love and support of family and friends, personal enjoyment with hobbies/activities, and healing from the stress/anger/sadness that will infiltrate your life from time to time.

Now I'm going to make an assumption that you aren't neglecting more than one part of yourself (but it you are, work on it!). If you are physically and emotionally taken care of but not mentally sharp (1), you may start to feel like you aren't being challenged and that you aren't learning anymore. Try to play a game (that requires some reasoning skills), research a topic that interests you, read a book, learn something new. It's very important to always being learning something new, even if you are no longer a student. If you are emotionally and mentally happy but not taken care of physically (2), you may notice that you get tired often and that you may be gaining some weight. It's also possible for you to have more anxiety or depression if you don't regularly exercise. Luckily this one is easy to fix- go for a run, make sure you have 8 hours of sleep at night, shop the outer ring of your grocery store and pick up fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains. This is an easy trap to fall into if you work crazy hours and don't have a lot of time. However, it's important to make the time to treat your body right, since you will definitely begin feeling healthier, more alert, and productive throughout the day. Now let's look at 3, where I was stuck for a while. You make the time to eat right, exercise, and continually stimulate your mind. However, there is just a part of you that feels unsatisfied. This is because you don't make enough time to develop the emotional part of you. It is important to see your friends and family, indulge in a hobby or pleasure, have a really good laugh every day. By prioritizing this time, you will begin to feel yourself have a more positive outlook on everything. Don't see reading a book as a waste of time, but as an act of enjoying yourself and building that emotional part. Finally, if you are nurturing all of these parts of yourself (4) you should probably be giving me advice!

To dive a bit deeper into the development of these 3 components, it's important to understand where they came from. There are different time periods when people normally develop each component. From ages 1-6, humans learn how to use their bodies and develop this physical component. Kids learn how to sit up, crawl, and walk during this time period. Afterwards, from ages 7-13, kids begin to develop the mental component of themselves. They learn how to read, do arithmetic, learn history, understand cause and effect, and many more valuable lessons. Finally, between the ages of 14-18, kids finally reach the emotional developmental stage. They begin to fall in love, hate their parents (at some point for most teenagers, especially teenage girls - trust me on this), and make very important friendships. It's this time when kids grow emotionally that can continue to affect the emotional outlook later on in their lives. During this time period, teenagers need as much emotional support as possible. So if you have a teenager out there, give them an extra hug for me! It's important to note that these ages aren't set in stone, but it's a good general guideline to understand the growth of a kid into an adult.

While all of this is interesting to know how these parts of a person develop, a key takeaway for me when learning this was how important it is to commit time to each one of the 3 components. I would always set time to hit the gym and challenge myself mentally through research and games, but I never set time to take care of the emotional part of myself. All three parts really need to be prioritized; I'm not saying you have to only eat carrots, work out every day, and dance around your office every minute. But it is important to address all three of these components at least every week.You will really feel the difference!

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