If I really reflect on changes I’ve made in my life that resulted in higher quality of life, the biggest would be eating more vegetables. It’s almost comical to say, but it’s true. Nothing has improved my mental and physical health (which seems to improve everything else) as much as increasing how many vegetables I eat.
As someone who reads far and wide on the subject of figuring out how to have a good life, it seems to come back to some pretty first principals / important and fundamental things. And those things seem to revolve around staying in peak physical and mental health. This seems to have been true for a long time, no secrets.
One of the most impactful levers that most people, including me, are able to pull is diet. But my experience has been that the positive impact of fad diets that I’ve tried (keto, paleo, low carb, low fat, etc.) through my life is minimal. The only things that really had a big impact were to increase vegetables and do fasting.
I’ve already written about fasting, as have many new school bloggers and old school religions. The cycle of wellbeing for humanity seems to have completed one full rotation: we’re back to moral cleansing and fasting again. That said, presumably the reason those things come up in religion is the fact that through history, they remain some of the more important things to implement if you care about having a good life.
I read an interesting post recently about neo-victorians, or how millenials (especially the younger half) are reversing recently won battles in terms of human freedom and rights and instead choosing to limit free speech, individuality and hedonism to pre-1960s levels. I guess you could draw a parallel here, because a lot of our current food was sold as being faster and more convenient (it is) than old school approaches to cooking.
If I had no information about someone’s life situation, or was in one of those hypothetical scenarios where I could go back in time and give myself advise, I’d probably do mostly the same thing but with more vegetables. Some things, like sleep, are pretty easy to see the cause and effect. But vegetables are like saving money: the real benefit is far in the future. But much like compound interest, the benefits are very significant.