My approach to wellness

The amount of what can be defined as "wellness" is inversely proportional to the amount of bullshit in one's life.

Wellness is the lack of bullshit

You don't need to work hard to get wellness and, in fact, I'd argue that's the opposite of a correct approach. Retreats, trips, vacations and similar timeouts are great, but they cure the symptom, not the cause. When you remove bullshit from your life to a large extent, you get general wellness.

That's not to say you shouldn't go on vacation and have offline time and sabbaticals and whatnot, all those are a fantastic addition to anyone's life, but you should first try to get wellness by removing bullshit, and bullshit is anything that makes your life less pleasant to live.

For me, the main contributor of bullshit is waste of time.

Limits of time

I am cursed with a pathological awareness of long term effects, plagued every single day by visions of the Third World War and my closing expiration date. This makes me painfully aware of some conflicting notions:

  1. I will not live forever and thus have limited time.
  2. I must make sure I use the time I have before the apocalypse to build up my family's resistance to the coming chaos.
  3. I must spend time with my family because I might not have much longer.
  4. I must retire during peacetime to be able to enjoy time with my family, and not just survive.

2) implies overworking so I can take care of them even if I lose all the jobs (I currently work three) but conflicts with 3) because it consumes my time with them. 4) also conflicts with 2) somewhat, barring some deus ex machina windfall that lets me instantly retire. All these are weiged down by 1), which is a morbid ticking timer.

If you think that's a mental-illness-level amount of pressure I'm putting on my mind, you're probably right. But it gets worse if you put this into detailed weekly perspective.

If I assume I'll live to be 90 years old, barring any technological advancement that'll make me live longer, my life in weeks so far looks like this:

Scary stuff. More than a third is gone. But if you assume that during the last two decades you're feeble and kind of useless, and you don't really function as a human in the first 10 years, it turns out we live much less. Many spend their time 33% at work, 33% in bed, and then maybe 15% living. 

Why 15%? Well let's face it - you have errands, tasks, even preparation for the other 66%. When you get up in the morning you don't go to work right away. It takes you time to wake up fully, shower, get coffee, take a shit, stretch. That hour probably doesn't even register in your mind as time, and yet it's wasted. If you commute, you lose more time, unrefundable, wasted. You go to the bank, to the post office, to the tax office - all those things take time, queueing and filling out forms, waiting for other slow people to do their slow errands so you can get to your slow errands.

So you can imagine that to a time-conscious person like myself, upping those 15% to something closer to 30% is of utmost importance, because every % added means more time to enjoy life, or to - have wellness. So how best to get some of that time back? This is what I do:

  1. No errands. Pay for online counterparts to common errands. Replace bank trips with net-banking, replace paying bills on-location with online versions of the same. Use e-post services and pickups instead of going out to send or retrieve a package. The stuff that absolutely requires in-person interaction, formally authorize someone to do this for you (an assistant) and have them handle all of your life's paperwork. That can mean hours per week saved.
  2. No commute. If you must work at an office, move closer to it. Prefer remote work. Self-discipline can be an issue, but it can be learned. This can shave off hours per day in some cases. Absolutely irreplaceable.
  3. No queues or waiting lists. If you can pay to get ahead in life - do it. The only resource that cannot be earned back is time. Don't hesitate to drop $500 for a private doctor checkup if a public doctor would check you out in 2 years. Life is too short for multi-year queues. Use the saved time to make up for the lost $500 and then some.
  4. Combine workouts. Physical activity is fun and healthy, but can be combined with family and friends or even with work for optimal utilization of time.
  5. Cook for pleasure only. Forcing yourself to cook every day is no good for anyone. Make it a fun activity that's kind of a luxury, and satisfy the basic feeding needs by cooking in bulk for the whole week or opting for meal replacements like Mana (long time user here, super happy).
  6. Say no to meetings and favors that don't have an obvious immediate benefit, social or financial.

"But Bruno, that doesn't sound like you've achieved wellness, only rushing and stress".

True, in a way. But I genuinely enjoy optimizing these processes, and I gain wellness from them. My wellness stems from the achieved efficiencies all of which gradually contribute to the final stage. 

Retire early

Long-term-wise, aim to no longer need to work for money as soon as possible. Notice I said work for money - this is because one should always work and learn, throughout one's entire life, even when one's life does not depend on it any more. Maybe even more so then. 

Mr. Money Mustache has the right idea, but to make things even simpler, calculate your retirement like this: "If I want to have a spendable amount X per month for the rest of my life and my expected remaining life is Y months, then how far away from having X * Y am I?". Once your savings reach that number, you're good to relax. Anything else you earn on top - maybe from side projects, maybe from dividends - is just disposable income you can further invest or spend.

And that right there is how you save the most time: by being able to retire early (say, by the time you're 40), you don't bring the 15% closer to 30%, you bring the 30% and 33% together, because there's no more work to wake up for, and no more commuting. You get a third of your remaining life back.

And that's my wellness. That's what I'm working on: removing the bullshit of depending on work for money, but to get there, I first remove the bullshit of inefficiency and time-wastage from the current work process.

Note that retirement doesn't mean I'll put my feet up and stare into the sunset when I reach this level of financial security for my family. Heck, I'd probably be doing the exact same things - blockchain-wise - because I'm passionate about decentralization and freedom of digital speech. The main difference is that I'd be working purely pro-bono and for personal pleasure and completeness, rather than direct financial income in the form of selling my time for 20% of my salary.


Other Wellness

Granted, the above is my plight and might not even tangentially apply to you. Your worries will be your own, your bullshit applies to you alone. You have to deal with it and maybe you don't worry about time at all. Remove your own personal bullshit as you see fit. For example...

Annoyed by something? Remove it. Back when I was still freelancing web development in 2014, I did some data tracking for a year for my mental wellbeing and physical fitness. The graphs showed me I was most miserable when working with JavaScript, so I closed all my JS contracts and stopped working with it. Work related happiness markedly improved (images from a talk of mine at OSCAL in 2017).

Working in a stuffy office that's bringing you down and making you feel sad about the missed sunlight outside? Find a way to work from a garden - your own or rented.

Feeling unfit? Remove that bullshit by walking while you do other things.

Hate your job? Quit. Hate your job category? Quit and learn something new. You REALLY can, I promise.

Feeling depressed? Maybe you don't have a purpose. Maybe you don't know what you want from life because you've never had to seek it out on your own and have always been told what to do. Maybe you just can't specify the bullshit that's bothering you and you need to focus on that before you can remove it. Maybe you're thinking too short term?

In an unhappy relationship? Leave it. It's better to be alone and happy than stuck in a mess because you fear loneliness. Trust me, there are worse things than leaving bad relationships.

Trouble finding a relationship? Stop trying to force it and trying so hard and it'll happen on its own. Don't be other people's bullshit.

TL;DR: Identify and remove bullshit from your life at any cost. The net gain is always positive.



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