Optimal Living 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life

Optimal Living 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life

by Sanjay Jain


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608325832
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 02/03/2014
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Known as the ''Balance Guy,'' Dr. Sanjay Jain is a US-trained, board-certified physician with more than fifteen years of clinical experience. He holds an MBA from Ohio State University and certifications in Diagnostic Radiology, Integrative Medicine, and Healthcare Quality and Management. A domestic and international speaker, he has served on numerous committees and belongs to medical associations.


Read an Excerpt

Optimal Living 360

Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life


Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2014 Sanjay Jain
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60832-583-2


Optimal Living 360, the Basics

"Life's time is never found again." —Benjamin Franklin

Time's a Wastin'!

We humans are an ambitious lot. We set out on our paths to start families and to forge careers. We create art and aspire to know the secrets of the universe. We work at our daily jobs to make a living. We exercise to perfect our bodies. We read all there is to know about our favorite subjects, and we practice to be the best we can be in our fields. Somewhere in the middle of our ambitions, we want recreation, and we have to make time for that, too.

Time is the greatest of life's gifts and the greatest of life's challenges. It is the most valuable and limited resource we have. For many of us, there are so many enjoyable, challenging, and simply compelling things in the world that our choices can appear endless. The simple truth is our time here is limited. Your lifetime only comes around once. Best make sure you utilize it to its fullest potential.


As we journey through our given time on earth, it is important to develop an understanding of the major commonalities of our lives. No matter what words we use to describe ourselves, we all connect in some way with the same safety, physical, intellectual, relationship, economic, and spiritual aspects. I call them the Core Assets, and they are best remembered with the simple acronym ASPIRES:








Let's look at each of these categories more closely.


Safety is an often overlooked and underrated aspect of the Core Assets. It deserves much more attention. Think about it: You could be doing everything right in life. You could have a great marriage, beautiful children, and a lucrative, rewarding job. Tragically, one split second of stupidity or simple bad luck can wipe it all away. Safety is therefore a state of awareness and prevention that binds the other aspects of our lives together in order for us to thrive fully.


Physical health and well-being involve a multitude of factors including genetic predispositions, biochemical disposition, and many other factors you can't control. However, it also includes factors you can control, such as exercise, nutrition, and your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. We all want to feel well, and to do that we must decide how best to prioritize physical health in the middle of all the things we do and care about.


Fulfilling the mind falls in the domain of intellectual health. Education is a big part of that, and it can be broken down into three parts: basic academic learning; vocational learning, through which you can acquire the skills of a trade and valuable real-life experience; and continuing lifelong education. All of these forms of education ultimately help you build your career.

However, intellectual well-being does not rely only on education. Your overall mental state needs to be taken into account. Do you suffer from depression? Is your self-esteem intact? Are there any underlying psychiatric conditions? Do you have problems with concentration and focus?

Last is leisure—a completely valid aspect of intellectual health. Sometimes a day on the golf course or at the beach is the best thing you can do for yourself to de-stress from all that's going on in your life.


This category encompasses more than just your ability to maintain a relationship with a life partner. You have some sort of relationship with everyone of any significance in your life. Your connections with all your family members constitute relationships, as do your bonds with friends. You may have various relationships with workmates or fellow students. More broadly, you may have relationships within larger groups, from the crowd you hang with in your neighborhood to the culture in which you were raised, which can play a big part in your ethnic or gender identity.

Each type of relationship and each individual relationship will present its own set of potential joys and challenges. The health of your relationships may change depending on how you and the other parties involved work together on maintaining them.


Economic health, in the most basic terms, has to do with your cash flow. And that has a lot to do with the career you choose, which certainly matters a great deal in terms of how it provides for your needs. With our current economic situation, do you still have a job? If not, how are you managing?

The overall strength of your financial situation is based on all the factors that bring you money, and that is what's called your economic health. Each aspect affects every other, and what we spend most of our time doing will color the rest of our experiences. For example, some people choose careers that provide economic well-being but that may squash the joy out of everything else.


Your spiritual health and well-being are most vibrant when your worldly outlook keeps you feeling positive and connected. They give you hope, guidance, and a sense of purpose in the grand scheme of things. They bring you comfort and understanding in hard times.

Spirituality comes in all shapes and sizes. One person may find solace in the stars, planets, and other great wonders of the natural universe, while another may find it in watching a dandelion tuft float by. Spirituality is a state of mind commonly confused with religion, although, you can certainly be spiritual without being religious. Religion has its place in that it provides a sense of identity around which you can structure your spirituality, but both religion and spirituality have their values.


It would be easy to list hundreds of examples of where each individual Core Asset comes into play. However, in life they never function individually. When you fall in love, at first it might feel like that relationship is the only thing that matters. If you stay in that mode for too long without regaining personal centeredness, your sense of spiritual balance may be compromised. And, depending on the person you fall in love with, you might want to watch the bottom line of your bank account.

Everything is interconnected. All the moving parts together form an intricate, complex machine. Unfortunately, this means when you give attention to one Core Asset, it inevitably uses time and resources that could go to another. Any frazzled parent trying to take care of the kids, work for a living, and be a loving partner has an intimate relationship with this dilemma. No matter what you choose to do, something else will inevitably be left undone. We compromise based on the choices we make, and that compromise is typically known as our opportunity cost.

In order to obtain what we want, we must expend some form of currency. Time is the primary currency we use to obtain the Core Assets. Others include energy currency (further broken down into physical, mental, and spiritual energy); social currency; and of course, our financial currency or money. The decisions we make about how to spend our currencies ultimately shape how we lead our lives—whether they're fulfilling or not. Thankfully we have the power to make decisions with the necessary moderation and balance to put our Core Assets to the best use.


To the uninitiated, the language of the world of finance can sound very specialized. It isn't surprising that many people leave it up to others to worry about the finer points of capital gains and losses, write-offs, and portfolio theory. However, it still seems relevant to use some financial terms in this section. I hope you won't let it scare you.

A deep study in finance can eventually lead you to some pretty complicated formulas—such as return on investment, or ROI. You can use ROI to help you determine whether an investment will meet or has met expectations on its return. In its most simplistic form, you can think of it as your net gain divided by the cost:

ROI = Gain from Investment - Cost of Investment/ Cost of Investment

Seeking a good return on investment—that is, getting a positive reward for what was invested—is a useful way to think about money and a great way to think about life. Your personal plan for aspects you want to emphasize and the kind of effort you want to put into them will help you maximize your ROI.


I am a regular guy who has tripped through life, making mistakes just like everyone else. Sometimes it takes road bumps to inspire us to share what we have learned along the way. During the trying times, we look for meaning, and eventually an "aha" moment occurs. This book offers some of my insights and what I have learned from those moments.

I am a doctor. I paid my dues by going through the rigors of school and training, and I have been in practice for many years. I enjoy what I do, especially the fact that nearly every day I am able to help save lives in some capacity.

However, I didn't always aim to be a doctor. Growing up in a modest Midwestern city in Ohio, my interests were broad—I enjoyed school subjects from science to the arts. Ultimately science won out, and I eventually took part in an accelerated MD program; I started college the day after my high school commencement. Despite the advantage of saving me a few years in school, there was definitely an opportunity cost in terms of not being able to participate in some of the more traditional college activities.

After medical school I did a medical internship in Detroit, not too far from the infamous 8 Mile Road. My first experience with death happened there: Caught in a sudden traffic jam, I realized there had been a terrible accident only a few cars ahead. I got out to see if anyone needed help, only to find scattered body parts and a dead man lying on the street. During my time as an intern, I also had the unfortunate experience of watching someone stricken with the AIDS virus die. The family members' anguish and tears of grief remain a disturbing memory.

My subsequent years in Los Angeles brought me close to another rough neighborhood—South Central. And once again I was exposed to disturbing scenes of people suffering from traumatic injuries such as gunshot wounds, stab wounds, and severe blunt injuries from fights or vehicle accidents. It was indeed a violent area.

During that time I became aware of the pain and fragility of life, and that has stayed with me in my professional life—and worked its way into my home. Watching my grandfather die slowly in a hospital brought back that feeling of sad inevitability. More shocking was my uncle's passing. He was a doctor in his early fifties who had never smoked a day in his life. Still died of lung cancer. Two of my friends also passed away, both in their late thirties—one from kidney cancer and the other from a sudden heart attack. My feelings of personal loss that resulted from these deaths drove home the point of making the best of the time we've got.

But we aren't here to dwell on death. This is about how to live life to the fullest. Mine is full of things I wish I'd known earlier and factors I could have taken into consideration. When we take the time to consider what has impacted our lives and the things we might like to change, it gives us insight into how to create a positive ROI for life.


I used to be the king of quick decisions. This was never truer than when it came to making financial decisions. Initially I never had the skills or the patience to think them through. Surprise, surprise. Isn't that what doctors are known for—poor business sense?

Prior to earning my MBA, some of my investment choices really cost me. With health-care reimbursement in perpetual decline, I saw a need to look at alternative income—real estate, stocks, and options, just to name a few. Being ever the optimist, I never stopped to think about the possibility of losing on them. My real estate ventures in particular were poorly timed, given the subsequent crisis. I lost not only money but also my peace of mind. It almost led me to the brink of bankruptcy.

What did I learn? My life currency expenditures (time, money, energy, emotions, and social) far exceeded any gains I made. I tried to take a shortcut in life, to get more things more quickly, and I wound up losing more than I could have imagined. Had I been a patient turtle instead of a flippant hare, I may have been better off.

Clearly I have made my share of mistakes in life. I wish someone had been there to help me through them and to give me some clues about what might bring happiness and what might not. My parents did a great job, but being the first generation here in the United States from India, their knowledge of the intricacies of this new and different culture was limited. More guidance with an awareness of those facts could have led me through the twists and turns and helped me make better choices more easily and in less time.


Why not now? If not now, when? It's never too late to start a new habit or new life assessment. The current level of world anxiety points to the need for a shift. In the United States, many people and businesses are still reeling from the recent financial crisis. Many live in a heightened state of fear and mistrust. Some are just starting to pick themselves up and dust themselves off, and there is a sense of overarching anxiety that has gone global.

We are constantly bombarded, if not with financial worries then with the specter of terrorism or the information overload that many of us experience in our 24/7, love/hate relationship with the Internet. Most of us are not world leaders and only some are activists, so the majority of us need to find strategies to make a certain amount of peace with what goes on in the big world. In our daily lives, most of us have more control than we know. The sooner we realize this, the greater our potential for creating healthy living in all the aspects of our lives that matter most.

Information bombards us at various levels of urgency. Often one source of information doesn't take any others into account. A do-it-yourselfer might tell me I'd be better off remodeling my bathroom myself, but that person doesn't realize that the time I'd spend, the frustration I'd endure, and the money it would cost to have someone clean up the mess I made would hardly be worth it. A doctor might prescribe a medication without discussing alternatives—or the fact that without insurance it will cost fifty dollars for each pill. In even the simplest of lives there are decisions to make, and in our contemporary world, not many of us are monastic. Getting stuck in a constant inability to synthesize information or make good decisions leads not only to poor choices but also to poor health from the stress that is the likely result. The best time to start working to reverse that trend is now.

Time is something you can never get back. Good decision making and smart life planning are not just for older folks. I have a lot of vitality at my age, but there are a few things I wish I had done earlier that I can't do now. My shoulders and back hurt a little bit more at times, and healing can take a little longer. I notice myself crossing the invisible line from invincibility to vulnerability. So if you want to climb Mount Everest, you'd best make the decisions that will lead you there when you're younger and perhaps more physically capable. For young people and everyone else, there is no time like the present to maximize your ROI to make the most of your health and enjoy the years you have.

As someone who always appreciates other people's advice, I've found it frustrating that I had to go to so many different sources to get it. And afterward it took quite some time to synthesize it. I hope you can get the big picture—see the forest for the trees—through this book.


Excerpted from Optimal Living 360 by SANJAY JAIN. Copyright © 2014 Sanjay Jain. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

1 Optimal Living 360, the Basics 1

Core Assets in Life: ASPIRES

Life Currencies

Return on Investment (ROI)

Making the Most of Life

Learning from Experience

Now or Never

2 Core Assets for Integrative Decision Making 13

Your Personal Life Asset Allocation

What Is Integrative Decision Making?

You're the CEO-You Decide

The Courage to Execute Your ROI Decision

Obey the Law of Diminishing Returns

Keep Ahead of the Game with CAPS

3 Hold on to Your Assets: Your ROI on Safety 29

A Quick Look at the World of Safety

Keep an Eye on Your Health with Preventive Screenings

At-Home Health Checks

Gender-specific Screening

Skin Safety

Minding Your P's: Poop, Pee, and Poot

Avoid the Addictions

The Safer Workout

Identity Theft and Cyber Security

CAPS for Your ROI on Safety

4 Where You Live: Your ROI on Physical Health 65

Setting Foot on the Path to Good Health

Nutrition and Dieting

The Herbal Path

Exercise: Move Your Body

CAPS for ROI on Physical Health

5 Affairs of the Mind: Your ROI on Intellectual, Emotional, and Mental Health 111

Educate to Liberate

Mental Rest Is Best, Get Your Sleep

Don't Mess with Stress

Self-Esteem: Who Do You See in the Mirror?

A Word About Intuition

CAPS for ROI on Intellectual, Emotional, and Mental Health

6 Love and Happiness: Your ROI on Relationships 137

Life Shared Is a Life Fulfilled

Why Make the Real Relationship Effort?

First Steps to Good Communication

When the Going Gets Tough

Learning to Listen

Getting Intimate

CAPS for ROI on Relationship Health

7 What Money Can Buy: Your ROI on Economic Health 157

The Many Faces of Money

Get a Job

Needs, Wants, and Whims

The Specter of Debt

Investing: Taking the Calculated Risk

Keeping What You Have: Your Financial Safety

Giving Back via Charity

CAPS for ROI on Economic Health

8 How God Is Good: Your ROI on Spirituality 191

Growing into (and out of) Religion

The Battles for Beliefs

Getting the Most from Spirituality

When Religion Goes Wrong

CAPS for ROI on Spirituality

9 Make Time Matter: Your ROI on Life 215

Time Management-The Basics

Put It All Together

Acknowledgments 227

About the Author 229

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Optimal Living 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
BLUEFISH99 More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that will kick start your journey of life giving it clarity and meaning., The author writes from the heart and its a very enjoyable book to read, it touches on a variety of subjects detrimental to our lives, but you have to read this one for yourself to decide it its for you.
MichaelBeas More than 1 year ago
One who ASPIRES can only achieve all they desire in life.  Let me divulge in greater length into one of the philosophies I learned from reading this amazing book from Author / Dr. Sanjay Jain.  For Dr. Sanjay Jain (ASPIRES) is the acronym that represents the words: Assets, Safety, Physical, Intellectual, Relationships, Economic and Spiritual. These aspects are explained in a unique and comprehensive way that will totally capture your imagination and change the way you think and live your life.  On a personal note I found this book to be profound and original as well as true to form in thought provoking manner that leave you thinking well after you are done reading. It is important to note that Optimal Living 360 does not only deal with the subject of health, it also digresses on all aspects of the life spectrum. For me the topic concerning Relationships and as well as managing Finances is what separates this book from all of the rest. It is worth the investment many times over and recommend to all who are looking for a change and way to better manage their life / improve there quality of living.  As with all of my reviews here are some closing words to describe this book: Captivating, Eye-Opening, Informative, and Inspiring in a well written fashion that will motivate you on a whole other level then you are used to.  5 Stars and a world of thanks to Author / Dr. Sanjay Jain for putting together this astounding book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was truly more than just a self help book. The author pens a very useful and thorough guide, to help you find balance and achieve more in your life. Highly comprehensive, this book is a definite must read for anyone looking to better their situation. Using acronyms to describe the main topics in the book, he covers a wide range including Economic, Spiritual, Safety, Assets etc. He also lends his personal experiences to backup the topics. I felt that this was very well put together, and definitely something that could be used on a daily basis. The perfect motivator. 5 Stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago