When I started changing my habitual routines from unconscious to conscious habits, I was heavily into the gym and scratching the surface of nutrition. With nutrition and health being a major influence in my life at the time, I created a metaphor that helped me stay strong with my life changes.
I think almost everyone would have a basic idea of what G.I. (Glycemic Index) means in nutrition terms. Especially since health is promoted very widely in our current day and age. The Glycemic Index gives you an indication of how fast or slow a certain food will be digested and used for energy, based on the type and amount of sugar/carbohydrate that the food contains. I won’t go into much more detail on this, but essentially High G.I. spikes blood sugar and promotes fast energy (hunger is only satisfied briefly whilst inducing a crash in blood sugar), whilst Low G.I. slowly releases its sugar into the blood stream (keeps us full for longer and keeps blood sugar stable).
Using this analogy, lets look at how certain activities we engage in fit in this model. Instead of analyzing the release of sugar from a food, lets look at the release of fulfillment and emotional satisfaction/turmoil from an activity, to see how this effects our overall happiness. We can give an activity a G.I. rating according to how fulfilled or empty it makes us feel at the completion of it.
Below I have come up with some common activities that we might engage in and explain how the Glycemic Index of Life can be applied. (The G.I. rating I give activities may be different for you)
Drinking in excess. The G.I rating I gave drinking alcohol in excess was a high *90*. This indicates a very fast and boosted emotional release of excitement/happiness/fulfillment/fun etc. However leaves you crashing after a very short period of time, namely the next morning when your head is pounding, and are feeling slightly sorry for yourself. It is a quick fix (like a sugar craving). Be careful. Like a sugar addiction that sends you craving a fix several times per day, you may begin craving this High G.I activity each Friday and Saturday night, seeking to fulfill the craving for an emotional high. Long periods of time in this cycle, will leave you emotionally damaged. Similar to how your likely to attract diabetes with constant years of sugar abuse, you may end up with a mild case of depression and dependence on alcohol as a consequence of this lifestyle.
Reading. The G.I rating I gave reading was a very low 40. This indicates a very slow release of excitement, happiness and fulfillment. This activity is equivalent to eating a bowl of Brown rice and some protein. The advantage of a low G.I activity, is that it leaves you feeling fulfilled for much longer, and keeps your emotional state very steady. You can read as often as you like with no adverse effects. Low G.I activities usually lead towards a healthy lifestyle for body and mind.
Going on holiday. Depending on what sort of holiday you are going on, and the reasons behind it, this one may vary quite a bit with your rating. I thought I would rate it with a G.I of 75. For the simple reason that we are usually dying to go on any planned holiday, which when we are there causes an elevated release of emotions. When we come back to reality, there is usually a slight crash in emotions, going back to work and slotting back into normal routines. So although its not a destructive activity, I think for the most part it is a slightly High G.I activity.
Spending money. When I talk about spending money, I am talking about most of our everyday purchases. Clothes, food, coffee or any impulse purchase that fits your lifestyle. So I give this type of spending a very high G.I of 90. We get a big rush of emotional satisfaction following a new purchase, only to leave us empty in a short period of time. This sends us in the emotional (High and Low) trap, commonly found with High G.I activities.
Exercising. I rate exercise an even G.I of 50. It fits right in the perfect balance of higher emotional release, with no emotional consequence or crash. It is one of those perfect activities that keeps the body and mind in balance. And obviously a great activity to engage in for a better quality of life.
Meditating. It may be an obvious one, but I rate meditation as an extremely low G.I of 25. Due to the fact that whilst you are engaged in meditation, you generally feel no emotional high of any sort. Yet this activity will keep your mind still and fulfilled for the whole day, and for me, even spill over to the next few days. Another great activity to keep our emotional state in great balance over the long term.
As you can see, nearly every activity you can engage in, can be rated with a respective G.I rating. Base your rating objectively on how it really effects your emotional state. Do you feel fulfilled or are you seeking a quick fix for happiness. Experiment with rating your activities this way and it may raise some awareness on how you seek to fill in your time. Rate your work, friendships, leisure etc, all with a G.I rating.
How much time do you spend in High G.I activities? Could it be a good idea to begin seeking some more emotionally healthy Low G.I activities?