BEING HAPPY REALLY CAN
MAKE YOU HEALTHIER
by Dr. Nicole Murphy
We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but does being happy mean that you are healthier? There is more and more research showing that just might be the case. People who tend to be optimistic are more likely to have lower blood pressure, fewer aches and pains, and even stronger immune systems. Happy people live longer, healthier lives. If you are a happy person then you may see the truth in this already. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed if you aren’t. You do actually have some control over your happiness. You can work on your happiness level with your actions and nutritional choices.
First, be kind and be thankful. Being kind to people is free! Some people may make it harder than others, but most of the time kindness is contagious. You can’t control how others behave, and who knows, your act of kindness might pull them out of a funk. Just think, you can be responsible for adding to someone’s life simply by being kind. Also, be grateful for what you do have. Thankful people look at what they have and not what they lack. When you’re worried about “keeping up with the Joneses” you focus on what others have that you don’t and how you aren’t good enough. This is a never ending cycle. The cool thing is that once you learn how to escape this kind of thinking and switch to being thankful, it can also become a cycle for optimism. Happier people value experiences over possessions. Things are temporary, but you get to keep fond memories forever. Seeing something new, enjoying time with a loved one, or just having time to relax with a cup of coffee are all experiences that can bring you joy. This attitude is much easier to obtain when you surround yourself with positive people. When you are only around negative or gossipy people, they will drag you down into pessimism and unhappiness. Find a supportive network of friends to surround yourself with.
Optimists are not without bad days. Studies show that if you respond to problems as challenges rather than crisis, they are easier to manage. Optimistic people recognize that bad things happen, but understand that you have control over how you handle them. They treat problems as learning experiences so they can have a better outcome in the future. Being optimistic means that you anticipate the best-case scenario, but it doesn’t mean you’re unprepared when things do go wrong. Happy people avoid making excuses for themselves. If something doesn’t go their way, they identify what they can control and work to make things better rather than doing nothing and blaming others for their misery.
Internal attitude isn’t the only thing that contributes to happiness. Nutrition and activity level are also essential to staying optimistic. Exercise helps to release the happy hormones in our bodies, but even just being outside in nature has been shown to improve mood. Eating a good and balanced diet is also important. When you eat pro-inflammatory foods, it exacerbates pain and makes you lethargic. Eating a colorful anti-inflammatory diet boosts energy and decreases aches and pains. Vitamin D is also important--particularly during the dark winter months. Scientists estimate that 85% of people have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D elevates your mood and can minimize the effects of seasonal depressive disorder. The list of things vitamin D helps with goes on and on; it even improves bone density and metabolism! If you only change one thing in 2017, start taking vitamin D. But if you are ready for a brighter happier world view be kind, grateful, and most of all hopeful. The world around you can be a beautiful wonderful place, you just have to look!
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln