In the beginning of our lives, we learn many things to grow into capable adults who are successful in their careers and their social lives. We're very busy with this kind of self-development. But what happens when our careers have ended and our children have left home? On what should we base the last years of our lives? How should we develop ourselves?
I think self-development doesn't end when we reach a particular age. If we give our lives a purpose and meaning, self-development becomes an important part of life regardless of our age. I think the grander purpose or goal we should all strive for in our development is completion. By completion, I'm referring to the completion of our lives and of our soul's wishes. It is heartfelt satisfaction and fulfillment in the final moments of our lives, when we know that we have realized our highest values and we feel that we can leave this life in peace without regret.
When I've asked people what their wishes were, I've been given many answers. If you take a step back and look at all of them, you’ll notice the commonalities of wanting the feeling of loving and being loved, of their lives being precious and valuable, of living freely and independently, and of contributing to something larger than themselves. While the first half of our lives necessarily needs to be focused on material success, I think the second half can be devoted to these less tangible, more precious values.
How can we make these values manifest and achieve completion? Another word for completion is wholeness; it's becoming whole. People are always seeking wholeness, actually. They may look for it by connecting with other people and having a sense of belonging, or they may become well-rounded intellectually through education. While these are important, the wholeness I am speaking of comes from connecting to the divine, the Source of the cosmos, and feeling unity with it. From this connection, we feel unconditional love and value, and we want to share that with others. So to complete our lives, we need to develop habits that allow us to establish, maintain, and strengthen that connection. Then we need to be of service to others and make choices that benefit the whole in addition to ourselves—what in Korean is called Hongik.
This process, depending on our starting point, can involve a complete transformation, like that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. We need to change everything on the inside to the deepest part, as well as changing everything on the outside, so that it is in alignment with our highest values and life purpose.
The Brain Education methods I’ve developed and teach are designed to tap into that deepest part of ourselves and then connect to cosmic energy and cosmic consciousness. They can easily be shared with others to benefit them and help them transform their lives. Three simple exercises for completion that I write about in detail in my new book, I've Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation, are Longevity Walking, Belly Button Healing, and One-Minute Exercise. These exercises bring connection and completion into our ordinary, daily lives. They make self-development and growth a habit and give us a constitution that allows us to do the things that give us the most joy and satisfaction.
Continuous self-development and living with purpose can be a part of our lives at any age, but when we reach our later years, we have more time and attention to devote to them. That’s why I believe the second half of our lives, the last sixty if you live to 120, is our chance to ensure we complete our lives with satisfaction and joy.
I write more about how to live a complete and whole life and what that means for our current times in I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years.
Today, too, the sun and moon and stars appear as a new day begins.
We are born inside of time, journey through time, and disappear into time.
It is eternal Life inside of time and space.
That's what I am. That's what life is.
Every person's value is precious.
This one day that I've been given, today, will create my future,
and it will change the community around me and change society and humankind.
How should you live your day today?
Let's live with vision, wake up and set our spirit straight, and take pleasure in living.
Let's be grateful to be able to work.
This is the way to create health and happiness.
Let's create health and happiness through the vision for the future we have set.
If you have a purpose or a dream, large or small, it’s difficult to accomplish it unless you’re healthy. Health is the basic tool for anything you want to do, although people do the best they can in whatever condition they are in. At the foundation of your health—mental, physical, emotional, spiritual—is physical health. Although the power of the mind and heart can overcome physical limitations, when you are physically healthy, it’s easier for your mind to be clear and your emotions to be calm. You have mental and emotional space to focus on your spiritual development, and you have the energy and power to take on any task.
Lack of health, according to Asian medicine, ultimately comes from the flow of life energy in your body being blocked so that your natural healing power is prevented from working. Conditions causing most symptoms recover with time if you release blockages and restore good blood and energy circulation. Breathing and meditation help remove blockages from your body, but the best way to do it for your overall health is to move.
Moving can mean specific motions and postures, such as the ones found in meridian exercise, yoga, tai chi, and qigong. It can also mean weight training and aerobic exercises. But, it can even mean simply getting out of your seat.
It's widely known that habitually sitting for long periods of time has a negative effect on health. For example, the risk of dying from heart disease is reportedly six times higher in people who spend a lot of time sitting than in those who exercise daily. Some studies say that reducing the amount of time you spend sitting each day to less than three hours can extend your life expectancy two years.
However, it’s not just the overall amount of time you spend sitting that makes a difference to your health; it’s also the length of time you spend sitting at once. If you spend most of your time sitting, even if you exercise at a fitness center 4 to 5 times a week, you won’t get the same health benefits as when you take intermittent breaks from sitting and move your body. When you sit for hours on end, your body gets stiff and the blood, lymph, and energy in your body, even the food moving through your intestines, can’t circulate well. Your veins and lymph vessels don’t have an active force moving blood and lymph through them. They require muscle movement to push the fluid through. As a result, when you sit too much, blood and lymph can pool in the hands and legs, and then toxins aren’t flushed out, and immune cells, nutrients, and oxygen can’t get to where your body needs them.
So while going to the gym or starting an intense workout regimen is great, it’s not sufficient or sustainable for improving and maintaining your health if it’s something you’re not excited about. Instead, I suggest doing “opportunistic exercise.” Opportunistic exercise is a lifestyle approach in which you take advantage of ordinary, daily moments to do short periods of frequent exercise.
I realized the power of opportunistic exercise after I experienced physical decline in my mid-fifties. I gradually had less physical energy, muscle strength, and sharp reflexes, and I experienced depression and falling ambition. My eyesight grew worse, my gums were in bad shape, and I gained weight so that my body was heavy and my knees didn’t feel well.
That really got my attention. I heard a voice of awakening, telling me that I must change myself. The question was, how? Having to deal with a busy schedule of reading dozens of reports, meeting countless people, and giving lectures from dawn to dusk every day, I decided to start doing what I call One Minute Exercise.
For One Minute Exercise, each hour, you do one minute of moderate to vigorous exercises that can effectively work your muscles and raise your heart rate in a short period of time. You could do exercises like push-ups, squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, jumping in place, and bear walking. It's good to set an alarm to go off every hour. Then you can do about one minute ten times a day.
I fit in these exercises wherever and whenever I can, not only once an hour. I do push-ups against the sink before washing my hands in the bathroom. I do chair push-ups when I’m sitting for a while working. Or I do bear walking, which is walking on all fours with your knees straight and your palms and feet flat.
Suddenly doing a moderate to high-intensity workout may cause muscle pain. If that happens, you should mix in gentle exercises like stretching or Belly Button Healing instead of strength training. And there's nothing that says you have to do just one minute of exercise. You can do it for five minutes or 10 minutes, or however long you’d like. When you have the time, doing several sets will double the effects.
You might wonder how effective doing short, simple exercises throughout your day could be, but, my own experience and the experience of people practicing One Minute Exercise around me have shown that these exercises really work. My body has become lighter, more agile, and more vigorous through this lifestyle. Even now, when I'm almost 70 years old, I do push-ups in a handstand against the wall every day. And, when I golf, I send the ball flying farther and more accurately than I did when I was in my forties.
Many changes will come if you do One Minute Exercise, even for just three months. You'll experience physicochemical changes in your body and emotional changes in your mind, and you'll find yourself developing a new lifestyle of moving your body no matter what. You can break free of distracting thoughts, stress, negativity, lethargy, and inertia and go right into things. Then you can make the most of the next hour by using it more productively and creatively. When you manage your physical condition, you end up managing your time, emotions, and goals—managing your life.
On a clear, bright, and warm spring day in April, my father went into eternal life. He embarked on his journey with a smile on his face, looking so serene and peaceful. His soul came here to New Zealand and stayed with me. He came to me with great love, in order to meet with his son.
Father was always more than a father to me. He was a spiritual teacher who taught me the great spirit of Hongik, and he was a friend and companion with whom I could always share deep conversations about the path for humankind.
As I've traveled down my path, I didn’t have a friend to whom I could spill out my heart, and I've always found myself surrounded by many people who wanted to gain strength and courage and hope from me. That’s why I hoped that my father would stay by my side for a long time and be someone I could depend on. Perhaps because he knew how I felt, even after letting my mother depart first, my father stayed behind and lived on his own for another eight years to stay with me and be by my side. That’s how I received tremendous love from my father, and I was able to share that love unreservedly with everyone.
Throughout the 94 years of his lifetime, my father lived an upright life of benevolence and humility as a good father, a good teacher, and a good neighbor, and he lived a life of sharing and giving back. Father was my model of honesty, diligence, responsibility, faith, and courtesy.
When I couldn’t adjust to life at school from an early age, even when our relatives and neighbors expressed their worry about me, my father would always boost my spirits by saying that I was a late bloomer. That’s why I was able to live my whole life without losing hope in myself. Even after graduating from high school, when I couldn’t get focused and failed the college entrance exams three years in a row, he took me to my grandmother’s grave and begged for forgiveness with tears in his eyes, saying that he was at fault for all of my wrongdoing because he hadn’t done a good job of bringing up his son. That’s when I seriously repented for the first time, thinking, “I’ve really messed up big time!”
So then I woke up and got my act together, and as I cleaned up the garbage under the bridge and planted a pumpkin patch from the trash, I discovered the value of my existence for the first time. After that, as I had developed confidence in myself, I opened a taekwondo studio and worked as an instructor, and I wanted to study as well.
Father provided support without ever questioning what I wanted, and he even retired early and gave me half of the retirement pay he received. Through that incident, I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility not only with regard to myself, but toward my family and toward the faith that my father had in me. That’s how Father taught me honesty, diligence, responsibility, faith, and courtesy. As I walked this path for myself, my people, and humankind over the past 37 years, every time I faced the innumerable trials and tribulations, it was that teaching that lent me the great strength I needed to keep going.
Father loved the people, and he loved all people with a virtuous and benevolent heart, and his love and blessings are still with me and with all of you.
Don’t live a habitual life, trained to the familiar and comfortable. Through intense self-examination and ceaseless self-challenge, create change, and adjust your track toward growth and completion.
If you live life habitually, without intense self-examination and reflection, you cannot make proper use of the time and space that have been given to you, and you cannot say that you have genuinely lived your life. The status quo is a state of self-negation, a state from which your dreams and your genuine spirit have vanished.
Walking in place for a long time is harder and less interesting than walking normally. Only if you go forward do your environment, space, and the people you meet change; only then do you gain a new fascination for life, learning, and inspiration. Only if you go forward can you move in a direction you desire.
Though you live but a day, but an hour, you should live for the dreams, values, and spirit you have chosen.
(Based on my book, Calligraphic Meditation for Everyday Happiness.)