How healthy is Ruben van Zwieten?
by Eduard Schaepman, on 13 May 2021
The 10 topics that I deal with in every episode of Nomads all over the world - inspired by health, take a slightly different turn when interviewing Ruben van Zwieten. Ruben is a pastor and entrepreneur and also known as the pastor of the Zuidas. He was born in 1983 in Ermelo and grew up in a semi-religious family. Despite the fact that his father did not go to church (any more), and he was not raised biblically either, he was inspired by the church at a young age. Between the ages of 6 and 9, all four of his grandparents died within a short period of time. That is how he came to church for the first time, and was touched by the words of the preacher. At that moment, at a young age, Ruben decided to become a preacher. He spent the rest of his youth like any other child, and only in secondary school did he make the conscious decision to study Latin and Greek for his post-secondary education in Theology. He also studied law, both at Leiden University, where he was also president of student society Minerva. In that year, he discovered his entrepreneurship and started working part-time at the Rabobank before setting up his first business.
De Nieuwe Poort
From 2007 to 2010 Ruben followed the pastor training programme at the Protestant Theological University. Even before he was sworn in as a pastor in 2010, he founded the Zuidas Zingeving Foundation from the Thomas Church in Amsterdam in 2008: a place where there is room for reflection, philosophy, rest and humanity. The result is the Nieuwe Poort: a restaurant with a bar, many meeting rooms and space for deepening. In the meantime, he is also located in Rotterdam and Zeeland and in 2018 he turned it into a European initiative, called the New Port, with meaningfulness centres in Valencia and Normandy. With the New Port, Ruben wants to create an anchorage in all major port cities for meeting and inspiration everywhere in Europe.
Generally, we talk about exercising a few hours a week, but Ruben says he is particularly mentally active. He 'lives in stories', as he so beautifully puts it. He allows himself to be completely carried away by the meaning of a story, and in this way he is very active in his mind. He finds the current view of health almost a religion, where quantity is more important than quality, and in which we can lose ourselves enormously. He speaks from experience: his Apple Watch brought out the competitive in him, and at the point when he was mainly concerned with accomplishing the goals on his watch, he decided that it was enough. Now he occasionally steps on the scale because his girlfriend does, but he's not otherwise engaged. But reading between the lines, it is clear that he is not only mentally active, but also physically active: he renovates the Nieuwe Poort locations himself.
Inspirational sources as a supplement
He has an inspiring view on nutrition and sleep, and is not at all concerned with superfoods or how many hours of deep sleep he has had. He experiences stress as restlessness, one that stems from the chaos of 'too much', and from all the misery in the world. That it is still possible for people to live without a roof over their heads for example. When we are talking about supplements, he gives us a great tip: you have to look for your own life story, who shaped you, and what contribution can you make to that? What are your sources of inspiration? That could be an image of God, but also a beautiful poem. No vitamine can compete with that of course.
Health a 7, happiness a poem
Despite the fact that Ruben is not into it, we still get a grade for his health: because grades help people who cannot live in the chaos of stories, as Ruben explains. He comes up with a neat 7 and it doesn't have to be a 10 for him either, because 'life is given and life can be taken'. His happiness cannot be expressed in a number, but he does give us a lesson in the joy of life, by means of an amazing poem.