The Boundless Life Challenge
How to beat the blues through holistic health.
Posted May 17, 2018
I’ve been away from this blog for a while, working on my new book, The Boundless Life Challenge, which distills my thinking over the past year or so. The new book has some ideas that will be familiar to my readers, like the emphasis on meditation and mindfulness, but there are some new areas as well. I discuss physical exercise and good diet much more than I have in the past, and I really hone in on the importance of the body and feeling good about embodiment. I wanted the book to be extremely practical and to help balance all areas of life—career, relationships, health, and happiness.
The idea for the book came from the series of posts on optimism that I wrote for this blog. But it occurred to me that optimism, in order for it to be effective, has to be lived in a certain way. We have to think good thoughts, yes, but we also have to put them into place via concrete actions, which also entails cutting through a whole morass of excuses and procrastination. I thought a 90-day challenge would be a good way to get at the heart of the problem. Ninety days is short enough to seem manageable but long enough to cement the new habits gained.
You might ask what exactly I mean by the boundless life. There is a bit of Nietzsche’s Übermensch here, but I want to distance myself from a certain bad reading of the “superman” or “overman.” I’d like to keep the joyous aspect of our good friend, Friedrich’s philosophy, but without the aspect of domination and power over others. We triumph not so much over other people as over our own self-imposed boundaries. We get a satisfaction from doing more than we thought we could do, from overcoming the obstacles that we face in life.
You know the obstacles I mean: the worries that keep you awake at night, that make you feel alone in a crowd, that make it hard to enjoy even the good times. I have developed a system that makes it possible to keep going even in the midst of uncertainty, a system that breaks through any mental blockage. Once the self-doubt and blame have been cleared away, it becomes much easier to begin to take concrete action on the problems that get in the way. Stagnation and resignation give way to concerted, daily effort of the sort that makes a big difference over time.
I wrote this book for people who are feeling stuck in life, who might be experiencing burnout on the job, a drought in romance, a decline in physical health, or just a sense of ongoing boredom. The one big challenge includes ninety smaller challenges, little suggestions for getting outside our comfort zones and moving towards our ideal selves. I write as much for myself as I do for the readers: I try to think about my own hang-ups and how I can get over them.
I’ve given lots of suggestions for getting over procrastination and actually getting things done, moving beyond the idea phase to the execution phase. I have laid out a plan for personal fitness in an hour a day. I incorporate two daily meditations based on gratitude and visualization. I explore creativity a great deal, emphasizing living into our unique selves instead of following along with the crowd. If you’ve made it to the point where you are tired of hearing yourself complain, this book will get you into action mode.
Just for fun, I can give you a behind-the-scenes look at my writing process. While in the office, I drank copious amounts of herbal tea. In fact, I drank this exact formula:
Buddha Tea Root Chakra Blend (not listing the ingredients here, but they are awesome)
One stick Huang Qi (Astragalus Root)
One stick Dang Shen (Codonopsis or Poor Man’s Ginseng)
I mixed this with honey, chai masala, and hot water. I was looking for herbs purported to have benefits for energy and meditation, and maybe I’m a bit superstitious, but it worked for me. The tea also kept me from getting hungry, which prevented me from getting up for snacks all the time. When I’m writing, I tend to look for any excuse to step away from the computer, so that was a big help.
I did the majority of work on the book at home, with my kids jumping around all over the place and my aged dog, Pearl, sticking her snout in my face. My partner, Jess, was hard at work on her doctoral studies, so there wasn’t much of a conflict there: we just sat, side by side, clacking away at the keys. I stayed physically active as much as possible, in keeping with the book’s philosophy. I ran on the cross country course at USC Aiken and swam in the pool at the Y. On the busier days, I walked laps around the quad.
Does the stuff in the book actually work? Well, let me just say that I am feeling more myself than ever. I am looking forward to the coming years and decades. My life’s journey is moving forward in new and unexpected ways. I hope everyone will get as much out of reading the book as I did out of writing it. I hope people will take this challenge and share it with friends and family, so that we can all be not only healthy and happy but also excited about all that life has to offer!