Weird proxies for wellbeing

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s difficult to assess my wellbeing unless I make a concious effort.

I have to regularly check-in with myself.

How’s my body feeling? Do I have bags of energy or do I feel sluggish?

How am I looking? Do I like what I see in the mirror?

How am I behaving to others? Warm and kind or cold and distant?

What’s the state of my mind? Stressed and distracted or calm and focused?

Part of the challenge is remembering to ask yourself these kind of questions.

This can easily be solved by making a check-ins a daily habit and putting them into my calendar.

More difficult is answering the questions in a useful way.

It’s helpful to answer proxy questions that have straight-forward answers but give a direct window into your wellbeing.

One such question I’m using is: How many tweetable thoughts did I have today?

Sounds cringe, I know.

But the clarity of my thoughts is great proxy for the state of my mind.

A stressed, distracted mind doesn’t produce interesting ideas and insights.

So I know that my mind isn’t doing ok whenever I don’t have any thoughts that feel worth sharing with others.

And the beauty of it is that the number of tweetable thoughts is easily quantifiable and hard to fake.

If you’re just asking yourself: “rate the state of your mind on a scale from 1 to 10”, you’ll often just pick a 7 without proper introspection.

But when I notice that I didn’t have any tweetable thought all day, it’s obvious my mind isn’t doing ok and I need to take action.

Usually all it takes is some meditation, a walk in nature, some crash and burn writing, reading for an hour, or talking to a friend.

I of course already know that I should be doing these things regularly.

But I often deprioritize or forget about them in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

So I find it incredibly useful to have non-negotiable brake lights that tell me: Stop whatever you’re doing right now and focus on your mental wellbeing.

A similar useful proxy is snack and junk food consumption.

When my body feels awesome and I am full of energy, I don’t crave snacks or fast food. I don’t even think about them and when I see them just think “ugh”.

So the number of times I eat snacks or junk food is a good proxy for how well my body is feeling.

When my snack and junk food count goes up, I know I have to take better care of my body, go for a run, the gym, go to the sauna or ice bathing.

A related useful proxy is energy drink (coffee etc.) consumption. My current break light is more than 2 per day. Whenever I’m drinking more than that I know something is seriously wrong.

Importantly, I don’t try to fight against what my body is telling me.

When I’m tired, I will drink a coffee. When I’m craving a snack, I eat one. When I don’t have tweetable thoughts, I don’t try to force myself to come up with one.

Willpower always only works in the short term and comes back to bite you tenfold further down the road.

I’m taking all signals seriously and immediately start working on the root causes.

I find this far more effective and enjoyable than fighting against myself.

Written on January 6, 2024

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