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Build Your Body

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“Whether you think you can or can’t. You’re right.”  —  Henry Ford


When Teddy Roosevelt grew up, he did not have the physical preconditions that would be indicative of his future success. He was nearsighted and had asthma. One day, his father told him, “Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. I am giving you the tools, but it is up to you to make your body.”

From that point on, Teddy lived what he called a “strenuous life.” At Harvard, he took up rowing. He would climb mountains and do whatever it took to grow strong.

A lot of science backs up the idea that walking spurs creativity. Steve Jobs would often take prospective employees on long walks. When someone asked entrepreneur Richard Branson what increased his productivity, his answer was exercising.

Sleep is another important thing that influences our thinking. Chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen often emphasizes the importance of sleep and physical exercise for chess practice and significant matches. When we have a good night’s rest, we can function better, have more creativity, and get more done.

In a lecture to students in Hong Kong, Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, told students that our perspective often changes if we think just for a while longer. “Things change if you ponder for another 2 hours,” he told students. “Whenever I meet trouble or difficulty, I will go to sleep and then think about the issue in the morning.”

On top of a good night’s rest, the right diet will boost your thinking, as well. Ancient philosophers have written books on the connection between food and health. The right diet will boost your mind. One way to balance healthy eating is to have a cheat day at an interval you specify where you eat whatever you crave, and spend the rest of the time eating as healthily as possible.

In many ways, we know all of this. We understand that sleep and a healthy diet are important. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves about the basics.

Also consider what stimulates our thinking. While I work, I listen to soundtracks or my favorite songs on repeat. It helps me to forget everything else around me and focus on the task at hand. There are so many other ways to stimulate your thinking though, figure out what stimulates your mind and then do it repeatedly.

We are given one body for life, and we take it for granted. We underestimate the connection that exists between the body and the mind.

Like Roosevelt, we must ensure that we are not neglecting our bodies. If we neglect do, we indirectly neglect our thinking. A proper sleep schedule and a healthy diet are essential for having a healthy mind.

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