ARE YOU HAPPY?

happy imageAs a doctor, my focus for years centered around poor health conditions (diabetes, cardiac disease, blood disorders, cancer, etc…, as well as musculoskeletal problems and pain. These are the primary reasons people go to doctors. I always questioned what lead up to these health maladies? It became my belief that our interaction with society was the underlying problem. We live in a society that compartmentalizes life. We have our work responsibilities, our family responsibilities, our community responsibilities and our religious institution’s responsibilities. Finally and usually bringing up the rear is our leisure time. This is the way most of us spend our lives day after day.
This patterned style of living creates routines we follow on a daily basis. It requires little creativity, but creates a sense of stability by knowing ahead of time what lies ahead. For some, this sense of stability creates a feeling of security.
But, does this patterned lifestyle possibly interfere with people’s HAPPINESS?
I took a poll and asked people to list what they deemed important in their life. Here were the responses:
  1. a good job
  2. a good relationship
  3. money
  4. purchasing a house
  5. children
  6. pets
  7. good health
  8. being part of a religious organization
These were the top eight answers. I found it interesting that no one mentioned HAPPINESS. Have we become so busy and so focused on tangible things that our need for happiness has been forgotten? Do we assume that filling these eight wants equates with happiness?
What if we changed our thinking? What if we made HAPPINESS a top priority? Do you think our attitude about work, relationships, money, purchasing a house, children, pets, health, and religious organizations would change and result in a better outcome? If we decompartmentalized life and placed all factors under an umbrella of HAPPINESS our approach to life would be very different.
So, what does it take to achieve HAPPINESS? Below is a “starting” list of ideas that might help us change our focus and thinking from where we are now to a new place where HAPPINESS can be found:
  1. LEARN TO CHANNEL STRESS – stress is always going to be a part of life. Rather than trying to avoid it, I suggest finding ways of channeling it. For example, I use exercise as an activity I can “unload” my stress on. It is an activity that forces my body to relax, creates a healthy outcome and clears my mind. Each person needs to find “their activity” (or activities) that produce a similar result for them.

  2. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF – most people lead very busy lifestyles, however, if a medical emergency took you out of your busy role for several weeks to months, the world would still move forward. It comes down to prioritizing. If you make yourself a priority, you will be able to “create time” for yourself. Creating time for yourself is essential!

  3. JOURNAL – start a diary and write down all the positive things you can remember that occurred throughout the day. You can substitute TV news time for this activity. Since our media today focuses its attention on anger, hostility, death, etc… you can passively send them a message you are not interested in these topics by journaling instead of viewing these negative destructive topics. Maybe teaching our major networks that positive constructive news can fill our entertainment needs is a responsibility we all should partake in. 

  4. BECOME MORE ACTIVE – take a walk in the park, take your pet for an extra walk (not just to go to the bathroom), notice more things outdoors, (blue sky, sounds and beauty of nature, people), garden, bicycle ride, hike, swim. Any activity that reduces a sedentary lifestyle will be beneficial. This type of participation reduces the boredom many people experience from inactivity.

  5. BECOME MORE SOCIAL – look for social community groups that share similar interests. Talk about politics, religion, hobbies, finances, sports. Try to maximize the POSITIVE aspects in these social settings. Since people have differing views, learn to be more tolerant rather than merely argumentative. “Venting” one’s feelings can certainly occur in these venues, however it should be handled in a polite respectful manner. As we learn it’s ok to “agree to disagree”, our personal relations with family and friends improves. 

  6. CREATE MORE FAMILY AND OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER TIME – we take relationships for granted too often. Tell people how important they are. Let them know you value them and the value they add to your life. If we spent half the time we spend on our jobs working on developing more meaningful relationships with our significant others and our family members, the divorce rate and estranged family relations would dramatically reduce.

  7. EAT HEALTHIER – treat yourself with the respect and love you deserve. When a person is HAPPY, they do not have the same emotional baggage that lead to self destructive behaviors including poor food choices. Better nutrition produces healthier outcomes. Increased energy, vitality and an overall sense of wellness is all part of a solution to finding HAPPINESS.

This list can be used as a starting point as you search for your own HAPPINESS. I promise your search for and success in transforming your thinking and actions will result in a new perspective on the things you value most in life. Wouldn’t it be nice to look in a mirror and see HAPPINESS looking back at you?

What suggestions could you add to the list to help people find HAPPINESS in their lives?

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17 comments

  1. Howto$tuffYourPig · · Reply

    Interesting post! I personally would have put “good health” at the top of the list. 🙂

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    1. I actually listed the responses in order of popularity. I was shocked that health was so far down on the list. It might be because people take health for granted unfortunately. Well, here’s to GOOD HEALTH and continued HAPPINESS!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Howto$tuffYourPig · · Reply

        I showed my husband the list and he was shocked that “good health” was so far down on the list! We would never take our health for granted! In fact, I’m proud that my husband was the one who gave up eating red meat and decided he would consume a mostly vegetarian diet. His health has improved greatly and I was all too happy to follow in his tracks! 🙂 We enjoy reading your blog because we are having many fun conversations about how to improve our health in our daily lives! 🙂

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        1. Thank you for your feedback. It’s always nice to know that I am not the only person reading my articles! Health can really be a fun topic to discuss. I’m excited to hear that the two of you have turned your lifestyles around and are looking for ways to maintain healthy living. It is not a daunting task like many assume. Making a game of it by changing small things starts the process in many cases. The benefits are priceless!
          Wishing the two of you continued success on the path of healthy living and happiness.

          P.S. Have you thought of blogging about how to reduce the cost of food while maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle? It could override the myth that healthy eating is too expensive.

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          1. Howto$tuffYourPig · · Reply

            Thank you! That’s a great idea! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Howto$tuffYourPig · · Reply

            I know I’m responding a second time, but I just had a thought. If you have a healthy, budget recipe I will be happy to “reblog” to my blog. 🙂

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            1. I don’t have a specific recipe, but food choices might be a better option. People are more inclined to buy a food than prepare a recipe. I thought that comparing overall cost of healthy products eaten in PROPER PORTION SIZES vs over eating processed alternatives might create a “bottom line” people are typically unaware of. If you can show that the “out of pocket expense” is not significantly different, more people might rethink their food choices. Let me know your thoughts.

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              1. Howto$tuffYourPig · · Reply

                It mainly for your blog so what ever you think would work. You could even come up with some easy, inexpensive ways to stay fit. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Something definitely to consider. Thank you for the suggestion.

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post! Very insightful. I like how you don’t hold anything back we do create our own happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you realize that your style of writing (starting with the “dish”, mixing in some music, sharing the choice of drink of the day) adds happiness to my life. Showing people that simple things in life add such quality is a real gift. I’ll bet you have spread happiness further than you realize! Just don’t lose any more cameras; we need those photos!!

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  3. Personally, for me, artistic activities bring me a great deal of happiness.

    Your poll results are interesting with job being #1. I was just talking to my younger son last week about his not being too serious in college about his major as maybe the journey is more important than the destination at this point. Finding his passion has eluded him and he is frustrated even though he has many talents. I wish he could just not take it so seriously.

    On another note, we went to a seminar at Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA last Fall entitled ‘The Science of Happiness’ and one of the presentations I remember most distinctly was a huge International Study (sorry can’t remember the name, but I could find it) done a few years ago that included multiple countries and determined that the strongest correlation to happiness overall involved people associating themselves with a community, like a religious community in many cases. I found this actually to be the most shocking information presented to us. It was also the most thorough study presented. It made me wonder if attachment to community (I guess your #5 of 7 and the last one listed on your poll) is more important in other countries than in the U.S. because it doesn’t seem that important overall to happiness in America. Maybe America is generally more polarized or we don’t recognize the “happiness factor” of belonging to a support community. I know my husband is currently finding a great deal of happiness through his new Buddhist Meditation community. Also, both my sets of parents get great satisfaction and happiness from their church communities and they are all in their early 70’s. I wonder if attachment to religious community is dying out and we are not replacing it with anything like it due to social media and the like. Anyway, just random thoughts. Thanks for your great post!

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    1. I really enjoyed reading your feedback. I believe that America has undergone significant transformations since your parents generation. Your parents were not part of the debt crisis; they did not sit all day at work (most likely) to come home and sit in front of a TV until bedtime. They lived in a time when community and neighbors and religious institutions helped create a sense of identity, purpose, ethics and morals.

      Today’s theme seems to be “survival.” We live a large part of our lives with our bodies in a state of stress (“fight or flight response”) that weakens our immune system reducing our energy and our ability to combat disease. I believe this is a large part of why “HAPPINESS” has been placed on the “back burner.” It is difficult to be happy when many live their lives in fear.

      By pointing this concept out to people, I am hoping they search within to determine if this is the path they are currently on. I am not trying to tell anyone what they should do. I want each person to find and achieve the level of happiness they choose.

      I greatly appreciate your comments. I know others will benefit from the words.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happiness would have been my number one. It is still! I’ve always strived for happiness and peace. I try the best I can to control that within myself but it’s what’s around that isn’t so. The hardest thing for me is understanding why can’t I make someone happy. I suppose it isn’t up to others to do that for a person. I think being happy should be so easy. Mostly it’s how you view things and deal with things. I’m stressed from almost the time I wake until I go to bed, but it’s how I deal with the stress that is thrown at me. Some days are harder than others, however the bottom line is for me to breathe through it and find happiness. Sometimes that happiness is frolicking with one of my dog or working out. Being happy should be easy. I’ve often wondered why it’s not for so many. Another amazing article to make one think and give them guidance. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You have amazing insight. For many people it is difficult to overcome the feelings of stress and anxiety and see that happiness is closer than they realize. You seem to use stress for creative ideas. This is a positive method which deals with channeling one’s stress. Exercise is another positive channeling tool you utilize. These are some of the tools I encourage people to turn to to overcome current obstacles. Your words will be seen and will help many readers. Thank you.

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  6. Am totally enjoying some of your older posts, thanks!
    For happiness I would add being true to our core ideals and give emphasise to our spirituality whatever that means to us eg Church, religion, or just being good honest people!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your addition. It’s always nice to see people add value and meaning to ideas and concepts already full of value and meaning. This is the whole purpose for comments on my blog site. Dialogue creates new thoughts and new perspectives that everyone can benefit from. Thank you for adding yours to this post.

      Liked by 1 person

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