I have been teaching a class at Quinnipiac University I designed with the title: The Health Benefits of the Creative Process. In our class, we explore the personal factors that make a person who they are. These factors, cognitive, affective, physical, and spiritual, are in constant interaction with the environment and behavioral responses of the person, and each element influencing each other with the main goal to find balance. Think of it as a table with four legs, each one of them, a personal factor. The table is on a surface which is the environment. The table reacts to the environment according to the balance of its legs and the pressure set on it. That is its behavior. No table is completely balance, and no environment is completely and perfectly balance. Therefore, a person needs to figure out where their personal table seeks acceptable balance.
Connecting Your Fitness
Fitness is an important part of a healthy life. Fitness might seem purely physical, but you could be missing on the beauty of connecting your fitness with the cognitive, affective, and spiritual factors. Everything a person approaches and engages in becomes a partial endeavor if transfer does not take place. Transfer is key to seek balance. Transfer refers to conveyance between one thing and another. Most people understand the physical benefits of keeping up with a fitness routine, but how does it connects with your mind, your emotions, and your spirit?
The cognitive factor relates to the mind, to how humans process information, design and interpret symbols and ideas of things past, present, and future. Humans have the capacity to see beyond the current circumstances and prepare for multiple scenarios that may or may not come. For some, cognition leads transfer. People see, understand, internalize, and make the adjustments in behavior through thinking. This might be why some people exercise in the first place. A person understands the need to exercise as a mean to be healthy.
The mind leads the body to produce some effort to workout. There is planing, scheduling, finding the right place and the right workouts, the right gear, equipment, and motivation. The way a person thinks about a workout could be considered, based on the principle of transfer, a way to reset the mind in how to face and engage in other situations and challenges. Fitness is a vehicle to understand how to pursue greater goals through short term goals, perseverance, and grit. When working out, consider that you are not only doing it for your body but also for your mind.
The affective factor play an integral part of life. Emotions makes us human. We feel. It connects us in a deeper level with people, things, places, events, and memories. Emotions give meaning to what we do, want, and need. Feeling allows a person to perform and behave to a different level. Fitness is a tool to mold emotions, to control them, to use them to our advantage, to connect, to fuel our intentions.
Two characters come to mind when thinking about using your emotions: Rocky Balboa and Bruce Lee. Rocky is a very emotional character. His emotions control him and stop him to pursue victory. Then, at some point, he takes hold of his emotions and a new found strength and sense of purpose fires him up to win. Bruce Lee, in his character of Lee in Enter the Dragon, teaches a disciple to add emotional content to his movements digging in to find meaning to each one. He emphasizes on feeling.
Connect your fitness with your emotions. Engage your workout with emotional content. Allow yourself to feel beyond your body. Make every second count and make it meaningful. It is a moment in time that will not be repeated. Transfer to other moments in life. A person can let emotions take control, or can control them, enjoy them, and use them as fuel.
A lot can be said about a person based on their character. Character is the first thing that shows when a person is confronts a workout. Character shows how a person perseveres in the face of a challenge. I like to think that if I quit on a workout because ‘it is too hard’, or because I am tired, or not motivated, my spirit will easily give up too when faced with trials and temptations. The spirit allows a sense of awareness of inner connection and connecting outwardly as well. The spirit perceives beyond the rationality of the mind and above feelings. It sees the unseen and understands beyond logic, and reaches deeper than emotions.
Each part of a workout is a tool to prepare the spirit to perceive and grow. If a person quits easily or is afraid to engage on a workout, it is possible that other aspects of life receive the same treatment and level of engagement. It is possible that facing choices, a person will choose the easy way out with the false hope of achieving results they did not work for. Fitness efforts can transfer to our spiritual journey. The spiritual journey connects with eternity one step at a time.
Balance the legs of your table, face your environment, resist the pressure, feel and enjoy, think about it, and grow your character. Give yourself a chance to explore a creative process that could bring health benefits beyond physical by connecting your fitness.