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While our DNA is the blueprint for our unique body profile, the way our genes are expressed as we grow is an entirely different matter. This is called your phenotype: It’s what you see when you look in the mirror. Your hair, skin, and color, the length of your arms and legs, and all the other aspects of your body.

The expression of your genes—your phenotype—can also provide you with insight about the environments and situations in which you will thrive. To illustrate this, pretend for a moment that instead of a person, you’re a car. And that when you’re born as a car (we know…just roll with us on this one!), there are infinite types of vehicles you could be.

First imagine that you are born as a 4×4 truck. You love climbing mountains, driving over dirt roads and splashing in the mud. It’s very important that you warm up before doing anything, and sometimes it’s crucial that you go slow, or you might get stuck. Given these qualities, it would make sense for you to live in a cooler climate so your engine didn’t overheat, and if you lived where there were mountains to explore and rocks to climb over, you’d be using your body optimally. It would be even better if you spent time in an environment with others who understood how you worked and what you were meant to do—and why you took a little bit longer to get going in the morning!

On the other hand, if you were born as a Smart Car, your ultimate destination would be the city. In this environment, you could move quickly, fit easily into parking spaces, and make changes frequently. Given these qualities, it would be best for you to live in an urban environment with stimulation and access to a variety of activities. You might feel trapped if you aren’t able to move at a faster pace, and you would do best if you were allowed to zip around as freely as you liked.

Now imagine a 4×4 trying to navigate the same city streets and park in the same spots as a Smart Car. Or a Smart Car attempting to make its way over a 4WD course. Both scenarios are likely to end quite badly!

In the same way, we are all born with distinct body profiles. And although our environments may change the expression of our genes, each of us needs unique nourishment, climates, social spheres, and exercise regimes to function at our best.

So remember that trying to be a Smart Car when you’re actually a 4×4 (or vice versa) will only drain your energy and time. Whenever possible, live where it feels good for you. Do the exercise your body is good at. Engage in work that stimulates your brain. Eat the foods that fuel your needs. And spend time with people who understand and nurture you.

You were born for a purpose—and when you discover the way that you live optimally, you will be living life to its fullest potential!

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