Happiness and Health

September 13, 2006

I have decided that my previous post regarding happiness barely scratched the surface of the┬átopic. So, I’ve decided to do a series of post on the relationship between happiness, and certain things…

This is the first post of that series. Happiness and physical health.

The funny thing about health is that most of us don’t appreciate it till it’s taken away from us.

For anyone trying to improve their lives, the first aspect that they should attack is their health. Physically healthy people tend to be happier. An improvement in the state of your health has many benefits, including greater mental clarity, greater focus and greater energy, which can then be used to improve other areas of your life.

So how can you go about trying to improve your health?

The first step is to recognize that you want to be healthy, and to set that as an intention. Most people don’t pay attention to how they feel physically, until they feel distress. The first step is to actively try to improve the way you feel physically. This will include trying to learn methods of improving your health, as well as avoiding unhealthy things and seeking out healthy activities.

I would consider exercise to be the most healthy activity. Even if you don’t eat well, the benefits of exercise counter that to a large extent. (I speak from personal experience!)
Exercise doesn’t have to be unpleasant or strenuous, or even very long. Choose an activity you enjoy: take lessons in yoga, go swimming, take a hike and explore the countryside. An easy way is to pick a group activity that focuses more on the fun, than on the movements you’re doing, which is why dancing is so great. Once you’ve gotten used to an increase in your activeness, start working out with weights, which in my opinion, offer the greatest health benefits. Stretching activities like yoga and pilates have amazing after-effects in terms of the relaxation that you feel. A former yoga skeptic, I always tell people that there is no possible way to describe the amazing feeling after a yoga session.

It’s important to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to ill health, as does too much sleep. Try to establish a sleep routine, and to sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable place. Don’t drink caffeine too near your bed-time.

Speaking of caffeine, the benefits of that are still controversial. One to three cups of tea or coffee are supposed to be beneficial, but I’m still undecided about this. Personally, I’ve developed a slight caffeine addiction, so I don’t think I can deal with this aspect too well. However, I am a firm believer in the beneficial effects of tea and green tea.

Too much alcohol is unhealthy. As is too much food.

Be careful about what you eat. Try to opt for natural foods, of the organic and free range varieties. Avoid sugary, starchy and processed foods.

Get regular check-ups.

Experiment. Listen to people’s experiences, and try out new things. You never know what might work for you. Personally, I am very impressed by the reported health effects of going vegan, and am dying to try it.

Cheat occasionally. Don’t live your life too bound by the rules of trying to be healthy, or you’ll suffocate. Go drinking with friends, sleep in on a weekend, eat a few french fries.

Finally, eat chocolate. Chocolate rules. ’nuff said.