In 2001, the same year of his passing, Thorsons publishers published Heart Surgeon Professor Chris Barnard’s book 50 Ways to a Healthy Heart. In this definitive guide, Barnard highlights the obvious lifestyle habits that support a healthy heart—don’t smoke or eat too much fat or fry your food. Do take your vitamins and minerals and eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. Manage your stress levels, sleep beautifully and spend time in sunlight. Add exercise and adopt a positive attitude. Interestingly to me, and importantly to many of us, he warns that people whom he calls ‘constant careerists’ should take special heed to protect against heart disease.
Constant Careerists—ambitious career-climbers, committed and dissatisfied— are those people who become used to being under constant pressure. Often, they struggle to shed these symptoms of pressure in their private lives. They always want to be someone else, someone ‘higher up’. They struggle to and do not delegate, consequently doing everything themselves.
The organic consequences of this attitude are clearly evident. These people are constantly tense. In fact, in periods of natural downtime (natural ‘regeneration phases’) they produce even more stress hormones. During these times, they are of the opinion that they are ‘lazy’ and need to work even harder. The result is a vicious circle. Their dissatisfaction grows because they are never satisfied with themselves. Barnard suggests that this can cause bodily organs to ‘cramp up’- the stomach, intestines, heart, circulatory and respiratory systems.
So, how does one protect oneself against this?
1. Have the courage to be imperfect—accept the truth about ourselves— that we’re as imperfect as everyone else. A person who is less hard on him or herself is in less danger of ‘taking things to heart.’
2. Have the courage to confess and admit it when you’ve made a mistake. Nobody is perfect. A person who accepts his or her weaknesses actually gains in strength and self-confidence.
3. Have the courage to be honest. Don’t avoid the issue. Face your problems and talk to others about them. This will reduce stress and give your heart the breathing space it needs.
Here’s ten Barnard Tips for constant careerists looking to maintain a healthy heart:
1. Don’t take everything so seriously. In time you will probably laugh or have forgotten about things that are upsetting you now.
2. Talking brings relief. Don’t always deny yourself the comfort of sharing your problems. Tell someone about them.
3. Don’t be an egoist. Of course everyone prefers to do the talking. But sometimes one has to shut up and listen.
4. Be a egoist. Don’t hold back too much. Otherwise you will soon find yourself at the end of the queue.
5. Let off steam. Ambition is important in life. But hopefully it isn’t your only positive attribute
6. Think Positively. Simply put, think positively.
7. Give others a chance. Of course you can do everything better. But if you never give others a chance to try, nobody will ever know it.
8. Be honest. You will see: we all have the same problems anyway.
9. Become independent. Be a whole individual in every aspect.
10. Be human. We’re all been known to cry now and then.