When I’m in a place of past regret or future fear, that’s where my biggest challenges come. So I love to put a stake in the ground in the moment. Happiness is really just the practice of being present.

I was very blessed to learn from a couple of amazing mentors. One was Jack LaLanne. I never met him. I saw him on TV when I was 12, and he changed my life. He told me, ‘when the world isn’t working for you, the great equalizer is nutrition and exercise.’ When the world around me felt dark, I’d go outside and climb trees and do push-ups. He would say, ‘your inner atmosphere creates your outer weather.’ I use exercise and nutrition as a way to get my physiology and chemistry in line with what I want to experience, not what’s going on around me.

That’s why I boycott the evening news. I will not let the mainstream media bombard my consciousness with fear. That’s all it is.

I’m in bed at 9:00 every night. With a book. Right now I’m reading The Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma. I always have Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl next to my bed. I read a page every day to get my mind set about gratitude. Frankl had an understanding of the game change that happens through that mindset.

When it comes to food, I always think about ROI, return on ingestion: What are you putting into your body and what is it going to produce as an outcome? Too many people look at ROI of food as being limited to, ‘am I going to be full?’ But what do the calories and nutrients and ritual actually give you?

The power of ritual—whether it’s breakfast or your bedtime routine—is a huge longevity maker.

Dr. James Rouse received his doctorate in naturopathic medicine from National College of Natural Medicine. He inspires others through public speaking, personal coaching, mentoring, and his books, including his most recent: Think Eat Move Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life. He is the founder of and resident expert for Optimum Wellness. Get to know more about Dr. James at drjamesrouse.com.

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