Recently, I went back to my hometown Sibu, Sarawak, East Malaysia, to give a surprise visit to my parents and also celebrated my father’s 75th birthday. During my trip, one of my uncles involved in carrying the coffin of the deceased told my dad that nowadays, out of 10 deaths, 7 to 8 would be painfully due to cancer. In spite of the advancements in medical science and affluent lifestyle, many have failed to live a quality life till their old age. I visited a relative who was bed-ridden in his mid 70’s. But sadly, none of his children were around to look after him. For most people in their younger days, they didn’t give much thought to their health and fitness. Once they are in their 60’s or above, suddenly fitness goals become a top priority. My wife and I have taught our children from young, not only on family and finance but also the right ways to be fit. Here are 12 lessons we taught them and they are still learning to master them progressively:
- Holistic Healthy Living. We believe that keeping fit is our personal and corporate responsibility. As a family, we cultivate a wholesome lifestyle built on healthy exercise, good eating habits and beneficial recreational activities. We have taught our children the basics of natural hygiene and how to practice the science of holistic healthy living.
- Growing Old Purposefully. We don’t believe in conventional retirement. We believe we can stay fresh and vital throughout our lives. As we age, we remain purposeful in living each day to the fullest. We do not believe in being a pain in the neck for others as we grow old. Instead of repeating the same stories over and over to everyone, we believe that we should fill our lives with new ventures so that we always have fresh stories to tell.
- Investment for the Future. We believe in setting aside a sum of money (that is more than the cost of external material things) for building our physical health. When we look after our bodies well while we are young, we will not be a burden to our loved ones and society when we are old.
- Know Our Bodies. We need to know how best our body functions. We should not deprive it of sufficient sleep, rest, water, air and living foods. We stay away from harmful foods and we believe in changing our eating partners if need be.
- Healthy Mental Food. We guard what we allow to enter our minds through our sight and hearing. We choose what we watch in social media and select the books we read as well as what we listen to, according to our life-goal.
- Right Associations. We stay away from toxic associations. We are where we are due to the people we spend time with and the thoughts we feed our minds. Our external physical manifestations reflect our inner world and the friends we choose.
- Annual Medical Check-Up. If we go for medical check-ups regularly, we would be alerted early on to areas that need attention. Corrective action usually requires adjustment of our lifestyle and diet.
- Accountability Group. It is probably difficult to keep fit by oneself. We joined a FITBIT Group (see here) that encourages healthy competition both mentally and physically, to spur healthy living as a team.
- Cut Sedentary Lifestyle. We encourage one another to practice an active lifestyle and to reduce or eliminate a sedentary one, which is detrimental to our health (see this article). We intentionally intersect sitting with standing or short exercises on an hourly basis or less.
- Watch Your Grooming. A big mistake made by many married couples, is to neglect personal grooming. If we love our spouse, we would look after our physique, dressing and mannerisms and not take each other for granted. We need to be intentional in not only looking after ourselves but our spouse as well, so that our spouse too, will be physically and mentally fit.
- 100-Year Old Life Plan. We had a strong desire to be centurions. We studied those who lived to be a hundred, such as those in Okinawa, Japan. Many people dare not live that long for fear of ill health; they may have abused their physical bodies when they were young with reckless living, and never invested in their future. In our old age, we want to be able to move around with our own two legs and attend to our physical needs without needing to be wheeled around or carried about.
- EcoParadise Centre. The conventional system of having children look after their aging parents just won’t work anymore. It can be a scary thing to be checked into an old folks’ or nursing home, where one just waits to die. We dream of creating a place in a mountainous or highland that is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls, trees, flowers and fish ponds and which may even have an ocean view, filled with fresh air. This will be a place where jobs can be created, weary lives are rejuvenated and purposeless lives get a fresh start; we envisage our EcoParadise to house not only the aged, but also to be a place of refuge for orphans, so that we can be “fathers and mothers” to them and offer them a second chance in life. We encourage our children to think long-term for one-day they too will grow old.
“Enjoy the moment while preparing for our future by keeping fit!”
About the Author: Dr Peter Ting is the President/CEO of Family First Malaysia, committed to TRANSFORM Next Gen Fathers, supported by Mothers, to build Better families resulting in a Better Workplace, a Better Society, and a Better Nation. Since 2014, Dr Peter has “retired” from his full-time corporate career. Now, he uses his time to mentor Gen-Y CEO Couples, and Gen-Z leaders as tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. For more information about Dr Peter, see here.