How I learned a simple, free trick to optimize my health and wellness

“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.”
Doris Day

At Spinaca, we talk a lot about health and wellness in the context of food, which makes sense. After all, launching, improving and maintaining good health has so much to do with what and how we eat.

But there’s a way to maximize health that has nothing to do with eating, exercising, sleeping, or drinking 64 ounces of water. It costs nothing, and yet has the power to revolutionize your life, guaranteed.

Zack on the farm in California

Tired & happy

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, for the VitaFoods trade show (the world’s foremost event dedicated to the nutraceutical, functional food and nutricosmetics industries). Right on the heels of my return, I culminated nine months of volunteering for an auction benefiting my kids’ school. The transition was rough. I was exhausted.

But something about seeing the auction come together, even in my jet-lagged stupor, got me thinking about gratitude. For donations at the auction, people gave trips to Las Vegas, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Wrigley Field. Apple donated an Apple Watch and other gear. An orthodontist even donated three full sets of braces (Waffles, we love you). I was amazed by the generosity of our community, and that sense of gratitude made me feel lighter, more alive, and almost like I’d had a good night’s sleep. (Almost.)

High on Abundance

I thought about the benefits of working hard for the auction. I’d learned a tremendous amount about working with volunteers, both the easy parts and the not-so-easy parts. I’m grateful for that experience, just as I’m grateful for the people who donated time, energy, and gifts.

I’m also grateful for the people I work with at Spinaca Farms, who picked up the slack on the work I dropped to be able to travel and volunteer for the auction. (They also pitched in and helped with the event even though it wasn’t their kids’ school.) I’m grateful to my wife, who took the brunt of the time I spent away from the house and cared for our three kids while I ran around trying to procure donations.

Believe it or not, I’m also grateful to the naysayers. (You read that right: naysayers for a school auction. It’s a thing.) If there’s one guarantee in this life, it’s that no good deed goes unpunished, but even the snarkiest onlookers can push me to be my best, if I let them.

Social media: the handmaiden of discontent

Like everyone, I can easily lose my grip on gratitude. Modern society doesn’t exactly foster appreciation and contentedness. I mean, let’s talk about social media, where we’re either elbowing in to throw the first punch, watching what everyone else is doing, or burning with envy.

We’re all so caught up with what people purport to do, be and have: their vacations, their homes, their clothes, their kids, their cars, boats, careers—even their pets. It’s almost like we’re living in a false reality. At what point did we decide that platforms like Facebook and Instagram were going to be the end-all, be-all of what’s important to us? How can we be well if our lives revolve around what we see on our phones?

Real health starts with the humility of “thank you”

I firmly believe the antidote to virtual reality is gratitude. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been privileged to have, for the good work I get to do, for the people around me I get to know. I’m grateful for our vendors, our employees, our friends, and our heritage and grateful for the failures along the journey, all of them educational. I’m grateful for healthy kids, a healthy spouse, and healthy criticism. Those things are far more important than how many people follow me on Instagram, or anything really.

So just like I believe in eating well, getting the blood moving, and sleeping eight hours a night, I consider gratitude part of my wellness routine, too. After all, a full heart is a healthy heart.

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