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Good health, at core, is less a destination than life-enhancing journey. But if there is any clear path toward the promised land of healthy living, it begins not on any treadmill or diet plan, but on the fertile ground of our own thoughts, assumptions and beliefs.

So, you’ve resolved to adopt a healthy way of life. You’ve decided to commit yourself to an exercise routine, to stock your fridge with fresh fruits, vegetables and other whole foods and to take a daily multivitamin supplement. You’ve decided to lay off the soda, purchase a custom bottled water and drink more water, get more sleep and stop making excuses.

But before you dash off into the blinding dawn of the new-and-improved you, let us offer a word of advice: While you’re busy changing your life, don’t forget to change your mind.

It’s not that your virtuous, practical endeavors aren’t valuable in and of themselves, but that they are much like the individual plants and trees within a larger, more vibrant landscape – one that represents a complete, integrated approach to a healthy way of life. Each component of that landscape matters, because each represents a tangible piece of your bigger health picture. What you may not be able to see at first glance, though, is that all of those plants are ultimately rooted in the landscape by acres of mental topsoil: thoughts, attitudes and perspectives that can make or break your efforts toward healthier living.

Now, the soil in a landscape typically doesn’t get a lot of attention. It’s just sort of there – and largely invisible under plant cover. But the point of all that good, fertile dirt is that it supports, connects and nourishes everything that’s growing out of it. Without it, all those plants would be history. And the landscape would be bleak, indeed.

In exploring and evaluating your own health landscape, it may be easiest, at first, to appreciate the importance of this tree or that flowering shrub – to get your head around refining a specific habit or choice. However, when it comes right down to it, you’re probably going to have to pay some attention to the mental ground you’re standing on, too. And that may require you to do a little digging.

In many cases, to really get the lay of the land, to find what’s growing where in our lives and why, we have to consciously choose to see what was all but invisible to us before – such as the social forces and psychological influences we’ve never bothered to question.

We put this article together to help you make your own big picture of health clearer, to help you identify ways you can make your mental soil healthier and to make the process of mapping your way through that landscape a good deal easier.

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