All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual.
We are beginning to understand that CrossFit, or any true athletic endeavor for that matter, carries with it more benefits than only the physical changes that we see, it seems to routinely transcend the physical allowing for personal growth in other areas. We have witnessed four main aspects of a human being where our development in these following fundamental aspects allow us to be more effective and healthier human beings towards the world, our friends, and ourselves.
Our relationships formed with others.
If you’ve ever been involved in a team, group, culture, or conversation where things just seem to be gliding along without friction, you have been part of a good social experience. This synergy experienced allows social development through a multitude of its microcosms, including a willingness to serve, empathy, self confidence and instinctual collaboration.
A focus on building relationships with others that are measured not by the amount of relationships we foster, but the depth we receive and value we offer. This approach to developing relationships takes a thoughtful, hardworking approach and will allow us to experience the world in such a way that eases anxiety and depression, the emotions that are tied to superficial relationships. The ease in anxiety that comes from having less superficial interactions can make room for real relationship development. There is no bigger example of these workings than social media, it has been built to bring us closer together, and in some cases it does. It has proven to be a great tool in many ways, my family and far away friends wouldn’t be as close without it. However, in some ways social media pulls us apart, because when it comes down to it a relationship requires eye contact, body language, natural conversation, vocal tone, even physical stimuli. Social dynamics require us to process information from multiple avenues. As far as our technology has gotten, it still can’t replace being part of a culture, team, or simply going for dinner with family/friends. Human-to-human interaction.
The specific stimuli affecting our cognitive function, form, and wellbeing.
We live in the information age, this topic is widely discussed as of late. We can pretty well open our phones to discover the latest and greatest tips on more efficient ways to absorb information. Right now you are reading this blog. We have gone through many societal stages; we were cave men who formed tribes where information was exclusively shared through social interaction via word of mouth. Somewhere along the line we developed the written word, then fast forward to a time in which we are most familiar with: the industrial revolution. This brought about many great inventions and sparked from this we now absorb information among a multitude of mediums. In a society inclined to mental stimuli we have to be careful through this bombarding of information that we keep our critical thinking sharpened. Although we live in a great time for intellectual development and this growth should be encouraged, It is very easy to misconstrue this wealth of information if we are not intentional in our pursuit of it.
It is our responsibility to attempt to navigate the waters of the information age with precision. We have a great power with the information that we have access to, and “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
The specific stimuli affecting our physical function, form, and wellbeing.
There are many things we can do to develop our physical selves, the main areas that affect us physically are exercise, nutrition, sleep, and recovery.
Seeing that today’s culture does put a lot of emphasis on the brain in this information age, often leads us to neglect our physical nature. Our bodies are so much more capable than we believe them to be, right under our noses our body breathes, sleeps, digests, our heart beats, it even repairs itself and adapts to new environments, all without the conscious brain. Our minds are powerful, but our bodies are underrated and underdeveloped. We have gotten to a point where we have so much mental stimuli in our lives that it has taken place of the physical. In today’s day and age we cannot rely on the natural, daily demands of life to give us our physical stimulus, it doesn’t exist. We used to gain our physical requirements just from simply living, doing chores, hunting and gathering food, fighting off things that might want to kill us.
Times have definitely changed for the better, because now we have a choice and there are a lot less things trying to kill us. The innovation that we are achieving is incredible to witness, I often think of how our grandparents have adapted to so much exponential growth and change. But, we often make the wrong choice when it comes to physical development.
Physical exertion is a fundamental and universal aspect of being a human being, it is a necessity to use our bodies. Now with this abundance of mental stimuli fighting for our limited attention, a lot of people’s physical development is washed away in the flood of this competition. It is up to us to get outside and ride a bike, run, join a CrossFit gym, ect.. The options are there for all of us. And just like our mental development, there is no limit to our physical development either, otherwise we would stop seeing world records being set.
Our relationship with ourselves.
Philosophy and religion have made this area fairly complex and it can be, and I’m not here to debate certain philosophies or argue religious reasoning. When we think about spirituality in simpler terms and not in the differences between philosophies, but the similarities, we can start to see that spirituality becomes the relationship with the self. Our spiritual wellbeing is vital to ensuring the above aspects of our human nature have an established base. This is the standing ground of it all, of our whole world. There are many things we can do to work on our relationship with ourselves, we can pray, we can read self help books, we can journal, all of these methods have us doing one main thing: paying attention to our internal dialogue. What are you saying about yourself and what are you saying about others? If your thoughts are not well, the other aspects cannot be well. For instance, if the relationship we have with ourselves has not been developed, how can we expect to develop relationships outside of ourselves? It’s like being in a plane crash, we are taught to put our own oxygen masks on before attempting to help others.
There seems to be a natural phenomenon that occurs when we start to intentionally develop the four aspects, and that is when we develop in one area it will help us in the others by default, as they are all interconnected. When you work on your spirituality your ability to form relationships will develop along with it, with deeper social interactions your spirituality will evolve in turn. When you work on your mentality and you form better habits you make room for a physical development plan (workout routine) and so the upward spiral and positive momentum begin.
Call me biased, but there is one of these human aspects alone that has the potential to develop all four at once: Physical Development. When we experience physical development we are rarely alone, we are generally part of a culture of like-minded people who are participating alongside us or interactively with us. Unless we are working out alone in our garage, we are either playing a sport with others or in a gym with others. This allows for spiritual awareness via the abundant internal dialogue that occurs when experiencing a challenging workout. It creates mental stimulus to the challenge and task at hand, and we develop our ability for social interactions through building relationships within the culture we have become immersed in. Finally, through physical development we trigger a massive hormonal response that causes an internal balance spiritually, physically, mentally, and socially, seldom achieved through other means. Next week I will discuss the science behind this balance and the things we can do to achieve it.