The five habits of health

Puzzled male shrugging wearing lab coat

Do you want to feel great and avoid disease?

Then stop listening to your doctor.

Read on and discover the five habits of health.


This post is part of RethinkingTruth’s “How to achieve health” Series and it reveals the the five habits of health.

Health, as we define it, is “the  fundamental capability humans require to perceive, feel, and act effectively”.

Consequently, we believe health is one of the four most important things in life.

But, how do we become healthy?

Your doctor doesn’t have a clue

To know how to become healthy I recommend that you run into your living room, pick up your phone and call your doctor.

Your doctor will know right?

Had it only been that easy.

In my experience doctors know little about how to become healthy. In fact, helping people become healthy isn’t their area of expertise. Confused?

You damn right should be!

Doctors have a wealth of knowledge, they really want to make a positive impact and they are generally effective at treating acute health issues such as infections, cancer and so forth.

Unfortunately, these same doctors are doing a terrible job at preventing people from getting sick in the first place.

Peter Attia, a doctor and former management consultant I admire, tells the story of how he let down one of his patients in this emotional Ted-talk.

If such an exceptional guy as Peter was giving patients poor advice for years you can only imagine what kind of advice you’re currently getting from your doctor!

The five habits of health

The Five Habits of Health

Instead of listening to your well-intending but poorly able doctor, take charge of your own health and start living the five habits outlined below.

#1: Eat right

“Eat right” is about making smart eating and drinking choices.

food intro

I’ve outlined the importance of eating right and what to eat in this post.

If you want to make some big changes immediately I recommend reading the two-week eating experiment.

#2: Sleep tight

“Sleep tight” is about making sure you sleep 7-9 hours every night and that those hours are of great sleep quality.

sleep like a baby

I’ve outlined the importance of sleep and how to sleep tight in this post.

You might also want to check out this post for a great TED-talk about sleep by Oxford Professor Russell Foster or this post for a short TED-talk by Huffington Post founder Arriana Huffington.

#3: Stress less

“Stress less” is about reducing the stress-intensity and stress-frequency in your life.


I have yet to address this topic fully but this post will get you started.

One of the next posts here at RethinkingTruth is about stress so stay tuned.

#4: Exercise smart

“Exercise smart” is about doing the right type physical movement for the right time at the right intensity.


I have yet to address this topic fully but let me share some great news with you immediately: To become healthy requires less than one hour of exercise per week.

If you don’t want to wait for my post on how to exercise smart I recommend reading this superb book by Doug McGouff.

#5: Think wisely

“Think wisely” is about installing effective beliefs and making sure you’re conscious of what kind of thoughts you allow in your mind.


I have yet to address this topic fully but a great way to start improving in this area is to learn how to think.

That’s it. The five habits of health.

Armed with this knowledge you’re able to become healthy and to teach your doctor a few things too.

But wait, there’s one more thing…

Other factors that affect your health

If you live the five habits of health you’ll feel great and avoid disease.

However, there are other factors that affect your health too. I won’t address them in detail but it’s important that you’re aware of them. They are listed below in no particular order:

  • Genetic factors
  • Situational factors (crime, extreme sports etc.)
  • The air and how your breathe
  • Sun exposure
  • Environmental toxins
  • Treatment quality
  • Radiation/electromagnetic risks
  • Other factors (for example pleasure ++)

What I want you to do next

Now you know the five habits of health.

However, knowing isn’t the same as doing. Therefore, I recommend that you do the following:

  1. Read the “Eat yourself to a better life” post
  2. Read about the four simple and delicious dishes below. It will take you about 10 minutes.
  3. Go shopping. Buy the ingredients you need to at least two of the recipes above.
  4. Stop reading what the media has to say about eating; they have no idea what they’re writing about.

Finally, I want to apologise to all doctors out there

This post isn’t meant as an attack on you or your profession. The reason I’ve used you as somewhat of a scapegoat is to motivate people to take charge of their own health.

I know you have deep knowledge in treating patients and I know you care about improving peoples lives.

However, I do believe the current medical education and practice focus too much on treatment rather than on prevention.

And, I do believe that a medical system which in many countries incentivises 10-15 minute long patient visits makes it hard to help people change their lives.

Finally, I know that there’s much we don’t know about how to become healthy. I don’t by this post claim to understand al the factors that drive health, but I do believe that living the five habits outlined above will make a significant positive impact on people’s health.


What health is

Health, as we define it, is “the  fundamental capability humans require to perceive, feel, and act effectively“.

The five habits of health

  • Eat right
  • Sleep tight
  • Stress less
  • Exercise smart
  • Think wisely

Note: I’ve borrowed the above pictures from here: Exercise, Brain, Heart, Stress, Baby, Doctor.

Now I want to hear from you

How well are you doing for each of the five habits? Do you believe any other habits are of greater importance to health?

27 thoughts on “The five habits of health

  1. Renata Craig

    What about the quality of your relationships or your social interactions? Perhaps this is measured under stress, but I know there is research that indicates people with strong and positive social interactions impacts their health as well as their ability to get well.

    1. Bjarte Bakke


      Thanks for your comment. I think you’re spot in. Research does indicate that having strong and positive social interactions improves health.

      Personally, I think this health effect is mainly caused by stress reduction but I also think pleasure has a role to play itself. I have over some time been thinking whether “pleasure” should be a component of the “Other factors” part of the health-model. I have yet to conclude but I would love to hear what you guys think :)

    2. random reader

      So true except for the apologies to the doctors. It’s them who should apologize for not being able to do their jobs.

  2. Rupali

    Hi Bjarte,

    Of Course helath is more important but i also feel GOD created very small creatures on this earth but being human is a great thing & so we have to realize the importance of our life & for that we have to enjoy our life with sharing & caring.

    1. Bjarte Bakke

      Thanks for your comment Rupali.

      I’m glad you agree health is important. Right now I’m writing a post on sleep and it should be out in a few days. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

      Regards from Norway,


  3. morten rand

    You are pinpointing the right issues at a “What” level – however, it’s the “How” level which is difficult, but the common denominater is to get known with your self and to your internal life

  4. morten rand

    Bjarte, when you are digging into the «how» levels, it’s not a problem to know how to do things the right way. The problem is to manage the skills as a basic rule, in your inner life. Witch means, how to feel ownership to your own “how’s”. People know as a basic what to do. But , they don’t know how to implement this pattern into their day to day life. That’s why people like me can be useful. I help people to reprogram their behaviour pattern, and to make the new rules of living, an unconsciousness part of their behavior pattern.

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  7. Aneesah Abdullah

    This is awesome; I had to change my way of thinking about 25 years ago’ because of my way of thinking that was blocking my health I realize that was the first priority…at this point in my life’ age 59 years old’ I JUICE FIVE DAYS A WEEK, EXERCISE THREE TIMES A WEEK, GO TO BED AT LEAST BY 9:00 PM, READ AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE AND LEARNED HOW TOO RELAX AS MUCH AS POSSIBE….THANK YOU SO MUCH, WILL SHARE THIS SITE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS;

    1. Bjarte Bakke Post author

      Aneesah, thanks so much for your positive words. I really appreciate it. I’m thankful for you spreading the word as well.

      Have a lovely week :)

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