I’ve always thought, and research shows that happiness is often dictated by one’s general outlook on life. Folks are either an optimist or a pessimist, and one’s personal position appears to have significant health implications.
A person who sees “the glass half full” handles stress better, as indicated physically by decreased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Thisboosts immunity, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), who reported that students who were marked as optimists had less fatigue and fewer coughs, aches and pains during the last month of a semester than their less optimistic peers. Laughter plays a role in the process also by lowering stress hormones and blood pressure and reducing pain. Also, and this is pretty cool, “laughter increases the number and activity of natural “killer” cells that fight illness.”
Evidence exists that some negative emotion and behavior is learned. It makes sense, then, that the opposite is also true — that people can learn positive emotions and behavior.
So, here are a few ways the reasearchers say we can improve our outlook. I’ll bet you have others, and some that work better for you.
• Identify and rephrase negative thoughts. For instance, instead of telling yourself, “I didn’t do very well,” try saying, “I did the best I could right now, and I can improve.”
• Choose a positive approach. When you run into an obstacle, don’t throw up your hands in defeat. Try to view it as a challenge — something over which you exercise some control — and begin brainstorming steps to get past it.
• Surround yourself with positive people and learn from their examples.
• Always look for something positive within a negative situation. You just got laid off from your job, but you’ve been considering a career change for some time. Now you have the perfect opportunity!
• Step back from troubling situations and view the big picture. How critical is the current “crisis” in the greater scope of your life? Chances are it’s not as overwhelming as you think. In other words, Don’t sweat the small stuff!
• Get physical. Exercise goes way beyond improving your fitness and health. It also has a dramatic affect on your mood and self-esteem. And with the right instructor or trainer, your workout can actually be something fun that you look forward to.
(credit: Judi Sheppard Missett is CEO of Jazzercise, Inc., a company she founded to franchise her international dance fitness program.)
Here are some things that have made me happy the past couple of days:
My older sons returned this morning from a week service project at our church. They both hugged me. That made me very happy.
And, of course, a good, sweaty workout always does the trick. (But not sharing a picture of that!)
There you have it, a few things, regardless of how mundane, can make a day better, bring some happiness, and, yes, can help improve your health!
What makes you happy? And, what will be your fun today?