Choosing to “just be happy” – basics to get you there
Every day, life throws curve balls left and right, and we get to choose how we’re going to handle unexpected problems or twists in the way we thought things were going to happen. Of course, every situation is different, but ultimately a choice needs to be made. You are either going to fall apart and allow the situation to destroy you, or you will bounce back with the decision to move forward and turn that negative situation into a positive one.
In 2011, we were beyond devastated when our 18-year-old daughter, Janelle, unexpectedly became ill and passed away due to bacterial meningitis. My family and so many others just couldn’t imagine life without her in our lives. She had such a big heart and touched so many in a short period of time. My husband and I quickly came to realize that we had to adjust to our new norm not just for ourselves, but most importantly for our two younger children who were 7 and 10 at the time. The best way to do that was to let go of the negative emotions, begin to foster positive emotions and choose to be happy, which we know Janelle would want us to do.
So, what does it truly mean to be happy? Being happy is enjoying or showing pleasure, satisfaction or joy. It is being in a state of well-being or contentment. According to a Harris Poll, only 1 in 3 (33 percent) Americans consider themselves very happy. How can we improve this sad statistic? You may not be surprised to learn there are two basic factors of being happy: good physical health and good mental health. The bottom line is, we must love and take care of ourselves in order to be happy.
One of our biggest downfalls to having good physical or mental health can be getting stuck in an unhealthy daily grind with lack of sleep, loads of stress and little to no exercise. How do we stop this madness?
First and foremost, we should ensure that we make time for ourselves. In running my own business from home, I’ve learned that setting my business hours and sticking to them leads to better organization, success and time for other activities. So, it’s no different when it comes to our personal lives. You should put yourself on your schedule and pencil yourself in first. This might sound a little selfish, but putting “you” first better prepares you to take care of those you love.
While a regular routine of physical exercise contributes to different health outcomes, it also makes us feel happier and our bodies feel better due to more oxygen circulating through our systems. According to “The Pursuit of Happiness – Bringing the Science of Happiness to Life,” The Cochrane Review (the most influential medical review of its kind in the world) has produced a landmark analysis of 23 studies on exercise and depression. One of the major conclusions was that exercise had a large clinical impact on depression.
Incorporating healthy eating preparation (including taking supplements), adequate sleep and more outdoor activities in your daily schedule can also help you achieve good physical health.
We can include many things in our schedules to keep us mentally fit as well such as meditation, yoga, journaling and spending time with friends and family. Whether it’s a phone call or engaging in meaningful activities, making time for play with others proves to be very beneficial for our mental health. Practicing smiling and gratitude, helping others, counteracting negative thoughts and feelings and fostering more positive ones (like what we’ve been able to accomplish in my family) contribute to keeping the mind and spirit happy.