As 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:
a good job
a good relationship
purchasing a house
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?