Being a Spartan isn’t just about completing a race. If you’re like us, you take pride in committing to something and intentionally sticking to it every day. The ancient Spartans built their lifestyle upon these principles.
The Spartan lifestyle requires grit, commitment, perseverance, resilience, and determination. Make these seven rules a nonnegotiable habit in your everyday life to reap the physical and mental benefits and begin the Spartan lifestyle.
Cultivate These Habits to Live a Spartan Lifestyle Every Day
1. Do hard things
Thanks to natural selection, the “law of least effort” explains that humans are hard-wired to seek out the path of greatest ease to conserve energy. However, studies show that not only is doing challenging things rewarding for your brain, but the physical and mental sensation you experience after completing something hard – the aftermath of activating your sympathetic or “fight or flight” nervous system – outweighs the pain of the challenge itself in what is called the “Paradox of Effort.”
In other words, doing hard things is good for you. So sign up for that Spartan race.
2. Life is a class: Don’t skip
The journalist Sydney J. Harris said: “Ninety percent of the world’s woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves.”
Don’t allow that to happen. Strive to learn something new every day to allow neural pathways to continue forming, increase your brain health and cognitive functioning, and enhance your critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
3. Decide who you want to be
Change is hard, but when you choose to live a Spartan lifestyle, you have to decide to put in the work every day to recognize your purpose, or your True North.
“Your True North is a fixed point set by your deeply held beliefs and values,” Spartan founder Joe De Sena writes in The Spartan Way. “Align with it and your True North will act as a high-speed train pulling you through life.”
Choosing to live with a well-defined purpose as the ancient Spartans did will also extend your brain function and your life.
A University of Rochester Medical Center study found that people living by a defined purpose were 15% less likely to die prematurely, and Rush University Medical Center researchers concluded that people with a sense of purpose were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
4. Be honest and realistic
Success usually doesn’t come easily or quickly. If it does, you’ve probably underestimated your abilities and should aim higher. Two things separate average from extraordinary people: sweat and tears. If the effort isn’t difficult, the results won’t be remarkable.
Stephen King once said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
If you want to live a Spartan lifestyle, get up and go to work.
5. Wake up early
Waking up early is such a simple habit to cultivate, but it will automatically set you ahead of 99% of your peers. It’s no coincidence that ancient Spartans rose before dawn and today’s billionaires wake up by 5 a.m.
The benefits of early rising are virtually limitless: researchers at the University of London and Harvard have consistently linked waking up early to lower body mass index, optimistic and happier dispositions, higher confidence, better problem solving skills, and more intentional goal setting.
How to wake up earlier:
- Exercise during the day to increase the production of serotonin in the brain and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Make your bedroom as dark as you can.
- Turn down your thermostat to 60 to 65°F.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
6. Eat healthy
The Spartan lifestyle included nutrition similar to the Mediterranean diet: whole, organic foods such as barley, olives, olive oil, figs, grapes, nuts, and meat when it was available. Here are a few rules to follow:
- Eat more fruit and vegetables: Try to eat three, 1-cup servings of raw vegetables and fruit each daily.
- Focus on fiber and whole grains: Shoot for three to six servings per day.
- Consume high-quality proteins: Eat three weekly, 3-4 ounce servings of fish, chicken, turkey, etc.
Incorporate nuts and legumes: Eat three, ¼-½-cup servings each of nuts and legumes per week.
7. Train daily
Not only will moving your body every day – whether it’s a 10-mile run or a 15-minute walk – keep you strong and healthy and help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and – eventually – osteoporosis, it’s also a lesson in commitment and a core principle of the Spartan lifestyle.