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A big component of how long we live and how functional we are in our later decades comes down to our health. Obvious, right?

Then why is it that when it comes to proving ourselves worthy in our careers, at school, or in our personal life, our health is often the first thing we most willingly sacrifice?

I’m talking about all those days we put off working out in order to fit in more work, when we grab a take-away or eat quick often-unhealthy meals so that we can get more done, when we sleep less and drink more caffeine just so that we can be awake more hours, etc. Why do we default to this?

There was a moment at the end of last week where I was experiencing glimpses of burnout. I felt as though I was doing a bit too much between YouTube, this Newsletter, freelance projects, research, and of course final-year of medical school.

As a result, I was working out less, sleeping less, eating more junk, drinking way too much coffee, worrying more, stressing more. All in all — nothing good.

Here are three books that at the time of reading really helped me appreciate the importance of building a balanced life. Thankfully, I was able to return to my book-notes when I experienced my first glimpse of burnout.

Ikigai

Recommended to me by a close friend, this book changed my perspective on a lot of things at the beginning of the pandemic. This book is all things longevity, happiness, purpose, and balance. It takes lessons from the citizens of Okinawa, where life expectancy is highest anywhere in the world and compresses it all down to a few hundred pages.

Life is not a problem to be solved. Just remember to have something that keeps you busy doing what you love while being surrounded by the people who love you.

Quite simply, ikigai is a word that means ‘a reason for being’. The people of Japan have developed their own unique framework for discovering one’s true purpose in life and this is at the intersection of passion, profession, mission, and vocation. I’ve made an entire YouTube video explaining ikigai, check it out if you want.

Why We Sleep

When this book first came out, there was a lot of hype around it — so I had to read it to find out for myself. Since reading, I now see sleep in a very different way.

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. The leading causes of disease and death in developed nations — diseases that are crippling health-care systems, such as heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, and cancer — all have recognized causal links to a lack of sleep.

Now I want to be clear that not all of Mathew Walker’s claims in this book are completely evidenced-based. For example, whilst correlation links have been identified to suggest Alzheimer’s disease prevalence is increased in a sleep-deprived population, there are no substantial studies to suggest any true causal link. Putting these mild acknowledgements aside, we can all learn a thing or two from this book.

This book also made Bill Gates’ book recommendations for Winter 2019.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Recommended to me by an old school teacher, this book quickly became one of my favourite books. In this book, we learn from a fable about a top-performing litigation-lawyer turned monk.

Saying that you don’t have time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don’t have time to stop for gas because you are too busy driving. Eventually, it will catch up with you.

Many of the lessons from this book force us to ask ourselves — Is this what I really want to do? What am I sacrificing? Am I living a happy life? For me, this book helped me appreciate that wealth can come in many forms. You have mental wealth, health wealth, and time wealth.

Summary

Health is wealth.

First and foremost, look after yourself.

Everything else is secondary.


What do you think? Let me know, hit me up on socials. 👋🏾


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