Life certainly has its up and downs. How do we make the best of it?
That’s the million dollar question we’ve all asked ourselves one time or another, and there’s plenty of ‘how to’ advice out there: Be a success, Get a better job, Make more money, Start exercising more, Eat healthy, Find your passion, Find purpose, making the solution seem like a long list of aspirations. But, we all discover sooner or later there is no quick fix, and personal or professional accomplishments do not necessarily result in health and happiness. So, what’s the answer? Let’s explore.
Family, Friends and Community
Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, Zen priest, and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest continuing study on adult life and happiness. A valuable lesson emerged from the 75 years of study — Good relationships with family, friends and community keep us healthier and happier, and it’s the quality, not quantity, of the relationships that matter most.
Robert Waldinger Ted Talk, courtesy of TED, CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International
Robert Waldinger website (updated Harvard study findings and insights)
Feature photo is courtesy of Derek Thomson/Unsplash CC0
Live in the Moment
When I met Fernando, I was trying to find my way through grief and upheaval, and struggling with what to do next. I’d been told he had been very ill, suffering a heart attack while being treated for cancer, and he was still recovering when he sat next to me at a hair salon. The first thing I noticed was his gaunt appearance, but then it was the look in his eyes — a joyful peace, and I remember thinking ‘this guy has been hit hard, but he somehow manages to look like the happiest person in the room’. I wanted to know how he did it. What’s his secret? During our talk, Fernando asked me, “Have you ever read ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle?” When I said no (I hadn’t even heard of it), he told me, “It will change your life”. I didn’t believe that, but I got the book anyway and discovered he was right.
In The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle speaks to the topic of personal happiness in a question and answer format, and recommends methods for living in the moment without troubling thoughts of past regrets and worries about the future. The book was first published in the late 1990’s, and remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for years afterward. Some people find the book hard to read, and get more from listening to the audio book. *[Zeester Media LLC may receive a small commission for a book purchase you make via the links on this page. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.]
Laugh Without Reason
Laughter has great short-term as well as long-term effects on both the mind and body that can make you feel happier in some amazing ways.
- Stimulates heart, lungs and muscles, and increases endorphins (pain relieving, hormone-like substances that are produced and released by your brain)
- Increases circulation and helps muscle relaxation
- Releases neuropeptides (protein-like molecules) that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses
Go ahead – Give it a try. Watch the Comedy: People & Phones channel, an On2In2™ collection of short videos about the use/misuse of phones – always good for a laugh.
Martin, a dog with some issues, makes everybody laugh as he tells his story in the comedy ‘mockumentary’ series “Downward Dog”. Watch it here → Dog Speak
Information/Resources: Stress Relief From Laughter? It’s No Joke, Mayo Clinic (April 21, 2016)
Connect to Nature
There’s an enduring belief among many cultures that being outdoors and viewing nature are good for mind and body. But, what to do when you’re trapped indoors?
Research has shown just looking at trees from a window can lighten a hospital patient’s recovery time after surgery, and a study conducted by BBC Earth and the University of California-Berkley revealed that viewing nature in images and video footage triggers a feel good response in people. As a result of these findings, the free-to-watch & share ⇒ Planet Earth video series was produced by BBC Earth. The series consists of 40 hours of visual soundscapes taken from footage filmed by the BBC Planet Earth II camera teams while on location. No commentary on these videos, only breathtaking sights and sounds of nature: Island Sounds, Mountain Sounds, Jungle Sounds, and Desert Sounds.
Information/Resources: View Through a Window May Influence Recovery From Surgery by R.S. Ulrich, The Center For Health Design (1984)
There’s more nature to see on the Natural Beauty video channel, an On2In2™ collection of favorite short videos. Amazing views of the extraordinary and Free to Watch, On-Demand
It’s Never Too Late
“For what it’s worth: It’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
Benjamin Button’s letter to his daughter
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008 film)
Story/Screenplay by Eric Roth & Robin Swicord
Based on short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Eat without gluttony, drink without getting drunk, love without jealousy, and occasionally, with great discretion, misbehave.”*
*Lessons Learned on the Quest for a Longer, Happier Life by Dan Buettner, The Aspen Institute – Global Health (June 1, 2018) Start with making small changes to downshift through each day – Take more vacation, do not check emails after work hours, eat dinner with family and friends at a table without any distractions, go on a long walk with a friend over your lunch break.
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Feature photo is courtesy of Derek Thomson/Unsplash CC0