“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
“ Clap along if you feel like Happiness is the Truth”
Happiness. What is it?
Or more to the point, what is it to you?
To some folks happiness is security. A regular paycheck, a roof over your head, benefits & a 401k. I’m not gonna sneeze at that. There’s a lot to be said for it.
To some people it’s family. To be surrounded by those you love. Also a valid barometer in my book.
To some it’s adventure. The road less traveled, or the more traveled, if that’s the one that makes you happy.
It could be these things, or some of them , or all of them. But whatever it is to you, my friend, you owe it to yourself. I turn 60 years old next week, and I’m still trying to figure it out. There’s part of me that wants to travel to every spot on this globe that I haven’t been to yet, and revisit places I’ve particularly enjoyed. There’s another part of me that want to sit in my reclining, chair, turn on Netflix, pop a beer every so often, be fiscally responsible and coast into a comfortable retirement. One of those is winning these days, but that’s none of your business, until I decide that it is and blog about it here…
…but I digress…
Aside from just feeling good about you, about your situation, about life in general, what’s the up side?
Glad you asked.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the health & wellness benefits of, well, happiness;
First off, being happy seems to help people make better choices.. Happy people tend to eat healthier diets, with higher intakes of fruits, vegetables and whole grains A study of more than 7,000 adults found that those with a positive well-being were 47% more likely to consume fresh fruits and vegetables than their less positive counterparts. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have consistently been associated with a range of health benefits, including lower risks of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. In the same study of 7,000 adults, researchers found that individuals with a positive well-being were 33% more likely to be physically active, with 10 or more hours of physical activity per week. Regular physical activity helps build strong bones, increase energy levels, decrease body fat and lower blood pressure. Also, not for nothin, but being happier may also improve sleep habits. One study of over 700 adults found that sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep, were 47% higher in those who reported low levels of positive well-being.
So how about that for an opening salvo, huh?
Also, Research has shown that being happier may help keep your immune system strong, which may help reduce your risk of developing colds and chest infections. One study in over 300 healthy people looked at the risk of developing a cold after individuals were given a common cold virus via nasal drops. The least happy people were almost three times as likely to develop the common cold compared to their happier counterparts. In another study, researchers gave 81 university students a vaccine against hepatitis B, a virus that attacks the liver. Happier students were nearly twice as likely to have a high antibody response, a sign of a strong immune system. That being said, the correlation between happiness and immunity is not completely understood.
A recent study also found that happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure. In the study, participants rated their happiness over 30 times in one day and then again three years later. The initially happiest participants had a lower heart rate on follow-up (about six beats slower per minute), and the happiest participants during the follow-up had better blood pressure. In that same study, researchers also found associations between happiness and stress. The happiest participants had 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the least happy, and another indicator of stress—the level of a blood-clotting protein that increases after stress—was 12 times lower.
Another study suggests that positive emotion also helps with pain Women with arthritis and chronic pain rated themselves weekly on positive emotions like interest, enthusiasm, and inspiration for about three months. Over the course of the study, those with higher ratings overall were less likely to experience increases in pain.Another study of nearly 10,000 Australians, who for my money are a happy, positive lot anyways, participants who reported being happy and satisfied with life most or all of the time were about 1.5 times less likely to have long-term health conditions (like chronic pain and serious vision problems).
Aright, enough with the stats, Bob.
I think you get my point. Now the question is….
How do I get from here to happiness?
I think, honestly, that you choose it.
Boy, that’s an easy, simplistic answer, huh?
There are so many clichés. “Life isn’t about waiting for the sun to shine, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” , or some such greeting card material.
But honestly, I think it’s true. Crap is going to happen. Things aren’t always going to go the way you want, or expected, or planned. You can’t control that. What you CAN control is how you deal with it. One of my favorite philosophies of life is “Like your life or change it”. That’s not very flowery, or touchy-feely. It’s kinda blunt. It puts the responsibility for your happiness squarely on your shoulders.
But I never promised you a rose garden, did I?
I sincerely believe that our happiness is our own responsibility. And our right. When it comes down to it, I need to choose what fulfills me, not what others expect. That can result in misunderstandings, in disappointment. Choosing happiness can be a hard choice. But you’re the James Tiberius Kirk of that particular Enterprise. If you want to kiss the hot green alien chick, kiss the hot green alien chick.
Can I tell you how much I love that last topical metaphor?
Well, that’s it for today. Stay safe, make healthy choices and enjoy the day. I hope reading my little missive gives you food for thought.