“Don’t worry, be happy”
“Life is short so wear your party pants”
“Do things that make you smile”
All these quotes are replies from our community when asked for one piece of health advice.
Happiness is such a huge subject. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin in trying to figure the correlation between happiness and health. How much does our happiness effect our physical health and can we change our happiness levels or is it set in our DNA?
I was going down a large rabbit hole of clinical studies. Searching through books for inspiration. Going around in circles because there was one thing I needed to establish from the starting point which is “what is happiness?”
I have to say that my search didn’t bring any clear results, again around and around I went, dizziness following quickly. This search certainly wasn’t adding to any happiness levels. One study, identified no less than fifteen different academic definitions of happiness.
I’m beginning to think that this feeling is a little tricky to put into words. But perhaps that’s it, perhaps it is an individual feeling that may be different for different people. And to be quite honest, I was also beginning to worry that I would find a definition that I didn’t relate to. Concerned that the definition would be something along the lines of “unbridled joy on waking” or “achieving 3,124 likes on social media”. If I didn’t relate to it then what? Unhappiness*?
Do we really need a definition?
“If you want to be happy, be.”
I don’t know about the rest of you but my own personal experience is that happiness, like any other feeling can come and go. It would be amazing to be happy all of the time, however, life doesn’t lend itself to non-stop joy. But I do think that it’s important to recognise it when it’s there, then appreciate it and feed that feeling as much as we can.
So, can a sunnier outlook help us prevent a common cold? Could hope and contentment prevent heart disease? Why, when I asked for one piece of health advice, did many of you say something to do with joy and happiness?
Well, to be honest, after researching the definition of happiness and coming up with zip, I guessed there’s not going to be much hope in finding answers with regards to the more detailed questions. So I didn’t delve too far. It may seem a bit of a cop out but one thing I know for sure is that constant negative emotions are detrimental.
When we’re feeling unhappy, stressed, fractured in any way, it suppresses our ability to fight. Our energy levels plummet and our immune system is less likely to cope. Generally, a feeling of crappiness.
Therefore, we require no clinical study to tell us that the opposite must be true. And our amazing community knows that from the great advice you’ve shared.
Happiness may not give us an increase in longevity, but isn’t it quality we’re going for here?
This is a huge subject, a subject that I’ll keep coming back to. But for now, I’d like to share a little exercise that I try to practice most days.
- Write, scribble, draw, paint, act out or whatever it is you do in your own beautiful ways, three things that you are grateful for, just three things in your life that give you that feeling of happiness and bring a smile.
- Be reassured in the knowledge that human beings are messy and some days will be more of an uphill battle.
- Be still now and again and always be gentle and kind with yourself.
These may not bring instant happiness or even a long life, but it’s a good practice to keep.
I couldn’t help myself and asked you beforehand “In three words or less, What is happiness to you?”
The responses did bring a little joy into my life……..
“Massage, Movement and Cheese” Meg
“Soul singing Joy” Bristol massage
“Cup of Tea” Jing massage
“Beer, Beer, Beer” Gareth
“Feeling Loved” Annie
“Family and Love” Aimee
“Love, Contentment and Health” Simon
“Meditation and Accupuncture” Hernan
“Gratitude and self love” Helen
“Family, friends and Health” Jennifer
“Leave no mess” Phil
“Love, music and Wales” Sian
“Love, laughter, Zumba” Anne
“My 3 boys” Angela
“No alarm day” Ali
“Shimmy, sweat, Zumba” Jenny Zumba
“Family and boxsets” Karen
“Family making memories” Claire
“Nail varnish, mince pies and belly laughing” Nicola
“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but our disposition.”
For those who are struggling with health at the moment, who remain positive and shine light on those you meet, you are an inspiration to us all.
Never forget how awesome you are!
‘Til next time….wear your party pants!
*It’s also important that I make a distinction that when I talk about the opposite of happiness “unhappiness” I by no means am referring to depression. Depression is in a different catagory from what this blog intends.*