Happiness is Good for your Health

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy”

– Audrey Hepburn


Enjoy your life – be happy. That makes sense. And now research shows another compelling reason to be happy. In a recent article from Greater Good, the concept that happiness is good for your health is explored.

Recently, a critical mass of research has provided what might be the most basic and irrefutable argument in favor of happiness: Happiness and good health go hand-in-hand. Indeed, scientific studies have been finding that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer.

The research shows that happiness is good for your health in six ways:

  1. Happiness protects your heart – happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure.

  2. Happiness strengthens your immune system – immune system activity in the same individual goes up and down depending on their happiness.

  3. Happiness combats stress – happiness seems to temper the effects of stress, or at least help us recover more quickly.

  4. Happy people have fewer aches and pains – positive emotion mitigates pain.

  5. Happiness combats disease and disability – participants who reported being happy and satisfied with life most of the time were less likely to have long-term health conditions.

  6. Happiness lengthens our lives – happier people were 35 percent less likely to die over the course of a recent study than their unhappier counterparts.

Happiness helps you live longer, combats disease, mitigates pain, combats stress, improves your immune system and protects your heart!  Don’t take my word for it, read about the this critical mass of research on Greater Good.

I’d like to close with a clip I have used in a past post.

Dan Gilbert explaining the The Surprising Science of Happiness.

Please let me know what you thought of Daniel Gilbert’s TED talk, and I’d love to hear your thoughts happiness and your health.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

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Happiness – At least 40% is up to YOU!

“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall be.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.  I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

― Groucho Marx


HAPPY – The Movie tells us in no uncertain terms that Happiness is within our grasp.

While 50% of our level of happiness is genetic, only 10% is attributed to circumstances (like income, health or the number of shoes in our closet).  The other 40% is up to us:  what we do, how we think and our intentions to be happy.

HAPPY is uplifting and insightful.  It asserts that we can actually re-wire our brains, altering its structure and function, by engaging in some simple activities.  And that happiness is a choice that everyone can make, everyday.  The movie outlines several ways to be happier:

  • Simple Meditation Practices (*see info below about the Compassion Meditation)
  • Physical activity, especially that which gets us “in the flow” and unaware of our surroundings, can contribute to chronic happiness
  • Other activities which get us “in the flow” – like playing music, doing something we love
  • Being of service
  • Community, being with friends, and of course, Love

This information is consistent with Martin Seligman’s findings:

Seligman’s Five Elements of Well-Being (PERMA):

  • Positive Emotions (P) – Feeling positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
  • Engagement (E) – Being fully absorbed in activities that use your skills and challenge you. (Flow)
  • Relationships (R) – Having positive relationships is a universal requirement to well-being. (Community)
  • Meaning (M) – Belonging to and serving something you believe is bigger than yourself. (Service and Helping others)
  • Accomplishment (A) – Pursuing success, winning, achievement and mastery for their own sake. (Gratitude)

The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) is doing ground-breaking work on the subject of Meditation and Happiness.  One of the people interviewed in the movie is Dr. Richard Davidson:

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is a renowned neuroscientist and one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as meditation, on the brain. He is the founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought after expert and speaker internationally. Time magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world.

The same meditation practice used in these studies is offered by CIHM online, free of charge. So it’s even easier to choose happiness!

If you haven’t seen the movie, please take the time to watch it. In my opinion, it is nothing less than life-altering!

 


 

Please let me know if you’ve seen HAPPY, and if so, what you thought of it.  And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Living a happier life

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

– Dalai Lama


Happiness seems to be the ultimate goal for so many of us, but the question always comes up, HOW?  How can I live a happier life?  I get asked this question in workshops and by friends when I talk (sometimes ad nauseum!) about living a happier life.  So I did some research about how to answer this basic question.

On one of my favorite website, Daily Good, there was a post recently by Action For Happiness. Action for Happiness outlines the 10 Keys to Happier Living.

These keys are simplified by the Acronym: GREAT DREAM

Giving – Do things for others;

Relating – Connect with People

Exercising – Take care of your body

Appreciating – Notice the world around you

Trying-out – Keep learning new things

Direction – Have goals to look forward to

Resilience – Find ways to bounce back

Emotion – Take a positive approach

Acceptance – Be comfortable with who you are

Meaning – Be a part of something bigger

For each of these ten keys –  there is information, questions, resources and a range of suggested actions to help you apply them in your daily life. It is well worth exploring this wonderful site!

Interestingly, as I researched this more, I was taken back in history, to about 300 BC, to the work for a man called Epicurus.  As an aside, I was quite drawn to his name, interestingly, because on the Enneagram, I am a Type 7 – The Epicure or The Enthusiast.  If you are not familiar with The Enneagram, it’s a model of human personality, which divides personality into 9 Types.  I slot quite well into Type 7 – I’m a planner and I have a need to be happy!

In the healthy state, the need to be happy induces Type Sevens to explore the world and genuinely appreciate what they find. They derive great happiness as a result, thus their need is satisfied and a balance is reached.

At the healthiest level: Assimilate experiences in depth, making them deeply grateful and appreciative for what they have. Become awed by the simple wonders of life: joyous and ecstatic. Intimations of spiritual reality, of the boundless goodness of life.

Of course there is the unhealthy, obsessive side to this as well.

In the unhealthy state, the basic fear of being being deprived can cause Type Sevens to numbly seek new and different sensations and adventures without truly appreciating the experience. This means they will derive little happiness from all the highs, which further increases Sevens’ feeling of emptiness and basic fear of being deprived. The cycle continues to build up.

Type 7s also have a history of debauchery and addiction . . .

Desperate to quell their anxieties, Type Sevens can be impulsive and infantile: do not know when to stop. Addictions and excess take their toll: debauched, depraved, dissipated escapists, offensive and abusive.

But that is another story!  I digress . . .

Back to Epicurus.  At the heart of Epicurus’s Philosophy is a simple thought – that we aren’t very good at knowing what will make us happy.  He boiled happiness down to three basic ingredients:

  1. Friends
  2. Freedom/Self-Sufficiency
  3. An Analyzed life

The 10 Keys and Epicurus echo each other in many areas – the main one being that we need friends and connection.  And they both reflect the Dalai Lama’s sentiment that Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

I want to close with Epicurus On Happiness, well worth the 20 minutes to watch and to help answer the question How Can I Live a Happier Life?

 

I’d love to hear about your thoughts on Epicurus and his philosophy of happinss, and how you live a happier life.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Be Do Have

“You have to be before you can do and do before you can have”

– Zig Ziglar


I hear so many people say – When I have A, then I can do B, and then I’ll be C . . .

For example – When I have more money, then I can travel, and then I’ll be happy. Or When I have more time, then I can exercise and feel healthy, then I’ll be happy. Or When I have a boyfriend, then I’ll go dancing, and then I’ll be happy.  (Note the Be Happy is usually the end result desired.)

But as Zig Ziglar points out, the best way to get what you want is to BE what you want first!  In other words Be Happy NOW!  In the award winning movie, HAPPY, director Roko Belic travelled around the world and asked people – What do you want most in life?  And the ultimate answer from everyone they interviewed in every part of the world was that they wanted to be happy. Simple as that.

Laurence Boldt explains the phenomena well in his best selling book, How to Be Do or Have Anything.

It’s an easy thing to say, but not as easy to embrace.  Gretchen Rubin is working hard to help people start living a happier life with her Happiness Project. 

One of the things Ms. Rubin recommends is making your own Twelve Personal Commandments.

One of the most challenging—and most helpful and fun—tasks that I’ve done as part of my Happiness Project is to write my Twelve Personal Commandments. These aren’t specific resolutions, like make my bed, but the overarching principles by which I try to live my life.

After reading quite a bit by Ms. Rubin, I made my own Twelve Personal Commandments.  I’d like to share them with you:

My Twelve Commandments

1. I AM (Intention Attention Memory) Everyday

2. To Thine Own Self Be True

3. Golden Rule – Be the way to others that you want them to be to you

4. I Will Act Now

5. Be Love in every way

6. Pay Attention!

7. Pay it forward

8. Be the change you want to see in the world

9. Be Happy Now

10. There is only Now

11. How do I want to be remembered?

12. Enthusiasm for Life!

I encourage you to make your own.  They help me keep important personal principals in my consciousness.

I’d like to close with a beautiful TED Talk by Matthiew Ricard, called The Habits of Happiness.

I’d love to hear about what makes you happy.  And if you decided to make your own 12 Commandments, I’d love to hear about them.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.