Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Year's Resolutions: So You Want to be Happy and Healthy, do you?

It’s the new year, 2015, folks, and everyone I talk to is discussing their goals or resolutions. I don’t make resolutions, but I definitely use this time to re-evaluate my goals, set new ones for the new year, and make a new plan. A lot of us write “happy” and “healthy” at the top of our goals list. But what does that mean, really? And how do you achieve being happy? Or healthy, for that matter?

Everywhere I look, there is something on sale with the promise to make us happy and/or healthy. If the ads I’ve seen recently are to be believed, then: 
  • tissues will make us appreciate the special moments in our lives,
  • almond milk will make us want to skip happily through a meadow,
  • and, apparently, Herpes medication will make us enjoy white water rafting.
Who would have thunk it?

All kidding aside, I believe there are plenty of folks who really, truly want to help. Through hard work, they have found a formula for their own health and happiness and want to share it with us. That’s amazing and wonderful and thank the Universe for them.

I also believe some folks want to sell us something. Period. That’s fine, for the most part. I consider myself a capitalist, but I’m also a realist.

The truth is, we ALL would love a quick fix for ALL of our problems. Wave a magic wand and the house is organized and sparkling (woo hoo! I’d buy that magic wand). Take a pill and all those nasty health problems disappear. Follow this easy three-step plan and all your problems will go away.

Unfortunately, that’s just not how this happy and healthy thing actually works. First and foremost, our health and our happiness is up to us, period. No one can give us health, and nothing can make us happy. Also, we need to be aware of our limits. Sometimes, health issues spring up that we have NO control over. Genetics does play a part and anyone who tells us that we can overcome all genetic predispositions with their magic slime is…uh…well, I’ll let you decide.

There is not a thing on this earth that can GIVE us health or happiness. Period. Only we can gift that magic to ourselves.

Now, wait a minute, I hear you saying. What about that great feeling when we buy something new?

I get what you’re saying, believe me. I had to buy a new MacBook recently and I’m still riding the giddy high every time I turn it on. But answer me this: how long does that “great” feeling last?

 I submit we are experiencing an endorphin rush, not real happiness, that will fade with time.

Like when we take a drug? Or eat Thanksgiving dinner? Or drink wine? Or bungee jump? Or fall in love? Hey, no judgement. We all have different addictions.

And THAT is what produces that endorphin rush. A new “drug” of choice. AND it is what makes the rush go away after awhile. We get used to the high and it takes more and more of the stuff until we become frustrated or depressed and look for something NEW to get us high…I mean make us happy.

Being high is NOT happiness, no matter what our addled brains might try to tell us.

So what is the answer? How can we make ourselves healthy and happy? Well, that depends. 

There are some basic steps we can take, I believe, but there are no guarantees. Also, you’re path is YOURS, not mine, and I cannot tell you exactly what you need to do. All I can do is share what is working for me. Keep in mind, I am NOT happy all the time. I am NOT sitting in complete peace every moment of every day. I am, my friends, much like you…I am constantly searching, tweaking, trying, exploring….hmmmm…maybe too much. But that’s another topic for another day.

What I do know is this:

I’ve been on the wellness journey long enough to be able to say I have not found a magic pill, a special shake, or a secret diet that will make us healthy or happy. Believe me, I’ve looked. Everywhere.

I also have discovered that focusing on the DESIRE to be happy a.k.a. “I just want to be happy” is the kiss of  death. Desiring something almost guarantees a plaintive, unfulfilled state of mind. Not at all what you’re looking for when you’re talking “happiness”. So what should we be focusing on? Happiness. Not the desire, but the thing. Try it.

And last, take care of your physical health if you want to be mentally happy. I kid you not. The journey of becoming “well” and then maintaining that wellness is fraught with emotional pitfalls and physical struggles, BUT it is the constant companion to a state of happiness. I don’t mean you have to BE fit to be happy. I mean you have to be walking the path of wellness. Different thing.

What do you think it takes to be happy and healthy? I love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

Much love and light, y’all.

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