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Think and Grow Healthy: What Napoleon Hill Can Teach Us About Healthy Behaviors

by IHRSA September 5, 2013

We’ve written previously about the importance of making the healthy choice, not only the easy choice, but also the happy choice. This approach emphasizes the role that supportive environments can play in inducing healthy behaviors. We’ve also addressed the impact of social circles and support networks.

Each one of those posts discussed external factors that may influence a person’s decision to pursue a healthier and more active lifestyle.

But true behavior change requires something internal; a motivation strong enough to persevere.

In the depths of the Great Depression, Napoleon Hill published the business classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” which still consistently ranks as one of the greatest self-help/business books.

It It is a book, largely, about self-empowerment. It asserts that circumstance can be overcome by focus and determination. Despite having been published more than 75 years ago, there is a joyful, almost celebratory message that seems perfectly in place alongside more modern texts about the self-empowering forces of the web-based economy.

The book offers 13 principles of success based on his observations of 40 wealthy individuals, Sure, external forces matter, a lot, but humans are capable of achieving great heights, regardless of environment. The “starting point of all achievement,” according to Hill, is desire.

Hill offers 6 practical steps for turning desire into riches. I think they provide an excellent blueprint for any type of endeavor. Here are those 6 practical steps. Lightly edited, with the word “money” replaced with the words “physical activity.”

1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of physical activity you desire.

2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for physical activity you desire (there is no such reality as "something for nothing.")

3. Establish a definite date when you intend to achieve the physical activity level you desire.

4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once - whether you are ready or not - to put this plan into action.

5. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of physical activity you intend to pursue, name the time limit for achieving the amount, state what you intend to give in return for the amount of physical activity, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.

6. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning.

What do you think? Would these six steps help folks lead a healthier, more active life? What else would you suggest?

In coming months: What role can social networks play in developing an individual’s desire for a healthier, more active life?

And, lastly, I would be remiss if I did not note that the wise and successful Napoleon Hill also listed “lack of proper physical exercise” in his section about the major causes of failure…

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