Keynote Speech by Mario Alonso Puig

Your three superpowers

On 8 April 2019, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised a conference by Mario Alonso Puig entitled "Your three superpowers to achieve a healthier, happier and more prosperous life" on the occasion of the presentation of his book of the same title published by Espasa.

Mario Alonso Puig is a physician specialising in general and digestive surgery. Dr. Alonso Puig has trained, among other places, at Harvard University in Boston, at the IMD in Lausanne and at the Tavistock Institute in London. He has devoted much of his life to researching how to bring out human potential, especially in times of challenge, uncertainty and change. He was appointed in 2011 as a member of the Leadership Council of the World Economic Forum (Davos) and has been invited to speak on leadership, motivation, creativity, entrepreneurship and happiness at institutions such as the IE Business School in Madrid, the Insead Global Leadership Center in Paris, Pythagoras University in Brazil, CEIBS University in Shanghai, the European Chamber of Commerce in China, the IGMP in Korea, Globis University in Tokyo and the Ciudad de las Ideas in Mexico. He has also participated as a speaker at "El ser creativo", at the II Congreso Internacional de la Felicidad, at ExpoManagement and at the Foro Mundial de Creatividad e Innovación. In 2012 he was awarded the prize for best health communicator by ASEDEF and currently collaborates with various programmes and media.


On Monday 8 April, Mario Alonso Puig gave a conference at the Rafael del Pino Foundation entitled "Your three superpowers to achieve a prosperous and happy life", on the occasion of the presentation of his new book of the same title. Mario Alonso Puig, Fellow in Surgery at Harvard University Medical School and President of the IE University Center for Health, began his speech by asking himself what is the best kind of life we can experience. From that question was born his new book, which seeks to help a person experience an improvement in their physical and mental health, prosperity, wellbeing and happiness in this life. In order to experience that profound experience of improvement, it is necessary to have a series of references that make sense in our lives. But it is also important to think of others, opening our minds and hearts. This path is like advancing through a mountain range, even if we want to go on believing that the road is easy. On the contrary, we move forward little by little, with ups and downs, until something bursts forth, bursts with intensity and allows us to reach our fullness. This is a path that is based on principles and values. Those principles, however, are counter-intuitive. And the main difficulty is the resistance we put up to something that reason tells us does not make sense, even though it does. That is why principles are counter-intuitive. There is a way to close the gap between who we are being and who we are called to be. That gap comes from our limited view of things, from our obsession with always being right, from our body's disconnection from nature, from our lack of control over our mind, from our detachment from our own essence. When we don't take care of these things, health, prosperity, well-being, human relationships suffer. To bridge that gap we need inspiration, we need to have a what and a why that moves the person. That is why we need to see things that inspire us, to get close to people who inspire us. When there is no strategy, the person runs away like a motorbike. That's why we need to channel inspiration with a strategy that works, a strategy that is based on discipline, effort, dedication. The three superpowers come from three dimensions. The first is the superpower of the head. The physical dimension is the brain, where the whole affective world of the human being takes place. It is the seat of the passions, of the desire to do things. We need an encephalic structure to channel this passion. We also need the superpower of the hands, which is in the brain stem. When you have a strategy, but you don't know where to start, you have to act like a torch and start looking for opportunities. Then there is the superpower of the heart, which is the emotional brain. It's the one that helps us figure out what we really want. But you have to put that brain to work in a new way. To do this, we have to bear in mind that the brain is always activated in all its parts when we do something. What we need to do is to get those parts to play as a well-coordinated team. Health is fundamental. When we talk about health, we are talking about the body. That's why we have to watch what we eat and change our habits, because we live in a world where pre-diabetic conditions are on the rise. This affects, for example, the chances of suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Physical exercise, on the other hand, increases the level of three substances that are essential for the brain. This can be stimulated by nutrition. In states of anxiety and depression, inflammation of the brain is seen. This inflammation can be reduced by eating nuts or oily fish. Physical exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, which is key to learning, negotiating, relating things. It also reduces the volume of the amygdala, which is the centre that reacts with anger or fear. When a person experiences these benefits, no one has to tell them again. Spain is one of the countries with the best quality of life. This is due to the Mediterranean diet. In this sense, it is advisable to drastically reduce sugar consumption, not only in coffee, because there is much more sugar in processed foods. This is a question of insulin resistance. When you exercise, intra-abdominal fat is released and consumed by muscle. This is a huge protector against inflammatory factors. As for sleep, sleep is more important than eating. Sleep prevents tumours from forming. From this perspective, it is a mistake to be in front of a computer screen, mobile phone or tablet after nine o'clock at night. To get a good night's sleep, it is also advisable to sunbathe and walk along a sunny pavement. Well-being has to do with perception and the mind. For Mario Alonso Puig, there is not a single fool on the planet. What there are are states of mind in which it is impossible to be intelligent. If a person feels in danger, feels judged, develops attack and defence mechanisms, which drive the blood to the muscles and, therefore, does not go to the head. When a person is burnt out, he feels exhausted, apathetic. To overcome all this, there is a strategy that works if you apply it. It is to move into the zone of renewal and then peak performance. Happiness is not about having, it is about being. It is a bridge to transcendence. This happiness is worked with cordiality, empathy and compassion. It is also about acceptance, which implies knowing how to let go of things; enjoying them, but not getting attached to them; understanding that change is the law of nature and therefore not resisting it. The connection with nature is also important. Something 'happens' to us when we take a walk in the forest. With gratitude something similar happens: the body works better when it is practised. Gratitude is finding something to be grateful for, rather than taking things for granted. Silence is important because it brings openness, transcendence, purpose. That is why it is important to return to moments of recollection, of serenity, of silence.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.