In 1998, when Positive Psychology surfaced, studies began to look at healthy people and emulate their behavior instead of figuring out what was “wrong” and how to “fix them”. An oversimplification of the bottom line, healthy people are happy people. There is a definite correlation between being happy and being healthy. Some may say, “Of course, I could be happy if I am healthy”, but the truth of the matter is, being happy contributes to being healthy. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the case of health – happiness is a precursor. Newsflash: happiness is a choice!
There are many ways to incorporate happiness into our lives. Here are a few:
- Realize that happiness comes from the inside out. It is easy to equate “happiness” with something externally, e.g., when that certain car is finally purchased, when weight loss occurs, when Mr./Mrs. Right comes along, or a million other things. While there are external circumstances that contributes to a person’s joy, these are not the end all, be all.
Some skinny people are absolutely miserable, as well as sad people driving brand new cars. Marriages continue to end in divorce which cause heartache and pain. The point is, people lose when they base their happiness on external circumstances. The choice to be happy is made, minute by minute, every day –– regardless.
- Be Grateful! We have so much to be thankful for. Keep an “attitude of gratitude”. Count your blessings every morning when you awake. Instead of thinking about what you HAVE to do, be thankful for all of the things you GET to do.
- Be social, NOT social on social media but actually engage in others. Seek community and seek relationship with one another. Do not look for ways another person can give to you, but ways you can give to others. Being a giver doesn’t necessarily mean giving monetarily (yet, paying it forward always seems like a welcomed idea) but look for ways to give encouragement, give a positive affirmation, offer hope, and give your time by listening.
- Move more! Exercise contributes to joy and is much better than anti-depressants. An hour of moving can release a chemical in the brain that contributes to a person’s state of happiness. There is an exercise for “any” body and “every” body including activities like, gardening, walking, dancing, and other forms of movement. Find something enjoyable and inspirational and get moving!
- Turn off the news. Bad news creates sensationalism which also causes network ratings to spike however, bad news also contributes to depression. Limit the amount of time you spend watching current events. Be aware then pray. “Cast your cares upon the Lord”. (1 Peter 5:7).
- Lastly, smile and laugh often. A smile is easier to conjure than a frown. Smiling elevates one’s mood, lowers blood pressure, and alleviates stress. Smiling is contagious. As the song goes, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”. And laughter is therapeutic. There is a branch of yoga called Laughter Yoga where participants laugh away their stress along with improving circulation, stimulating the immune system, and exercising muscles. Laughter also reduces stress hormones, alleviates depression and anxiety as well as lowers one’s blood pressure. How about this for an exercise!
It is true that happier people have less sickness and disease. “A merry heart doeth good like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). There will always be a crossroad, choose happiness! Rhonda, a native Nashvillian and a graduate from Belmont University holds a BS degree in Psychology with a background in counseling. She enjoys traveling with her husband and entertaining, along with hanging out with her three adult children when life and time permit. She is a public speaker, a certified Yoga instructor, and a freelance published writer. One of her favorite pastime includes running