Sunday, April 23, 2017
And now a word about "Creating Happiness" from the Surgeon General of the United States on TED-MED
And now a word from our former Surgeon General about "creating happiness" through the powerful practices of gratitude, meditation, and social connectedness (community).
In summary: We can CREATE HAPPINESS in our lives, and this can lead to change our health behavior and health outcomes.
Positive physical health outcomes can result from practicing gratitude, and we have the power to touch other peoples lives through simple gestures or kind words. This will increase our happiness factor at the same time.
The Gratitude Study: 3 Randomized Groups
Gratitude group: Participants were asked to daily write down 5 things they were grateful for.
Hassle group: Participants were asked to daily write down 5 things that hassled them.
Control group: Participants were asked to daily write down 5 things that happened, without a positive or negative slant.
At the end of 10 weeks, the "Gratitude" group had a greater level of optimism, and had more positive view of life. They also exercised for 1.5 more (on average) hours per week (then they had at baseline), slept better, and had fewer physical symptoms of pain, nausea, headaches.
The simple practice of gratitude had the power to increase their happiness, and to change their health behavior and health outcomes.
Do you focus on the things you are thankful and grateful for? Or do you focus on the things that hassle you? Where do you direct your attention? If you practice gratitude regularly (rather than focusing on things that hassle you), studies show you will decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke, increase your chance of living longer, decrease your chance of your kids using addictive substances, and increase your chances of losing weight! Yes. You read that right.
WE can focus on gratitude, instead of focusing on hassle, which always leads to anxiety. We CAN creating wellbeing and happiness in our lives, AND pay it forward into other's lives through the daily practice of gratitude. WOW.
My own added thoughts and contemplations:
Perhaps these Bible verses, then, represent powerful advice not just for spiritual health, but for medical and emotional wellbeing as well! WE can guard our minds, direct our thoughts, and choose what we focus our attention on:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Thessalonians 5:15–18 — Thankfulness, God's will for you. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,"
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Practical tips - Things to START doing, and perhaps things to STOP doing:
1. START taking a few minutes each day and think of all the people and circumstances you are thankful or grateful for.
2. START practicing small gestures of kindness, or giving words of encouragement, to others.
3. Consider the Apostle Paul's advice about learning to BE content in any circumstance you are in:
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." - Philippians 4:12. Notice he said "learning to be content". BEING Content is not a default state for us humans, it is a learned and practiced skill.
4. Pay it forward by helping others enrich their lives in some way. Help others create happiness. Be of service to your neighbor, to your friends, to strangers. Practice the golden rule of "doing unto others as you would have others do unto you". And guess what, you don't even have to feel like you are "in the mood" to do this! The Bible explains that if we are sad, if our hearts are downcast, SERVE OTHERS and that will CHANGE! Serving others can actually LIFT our spirits, boost us out of a depressed state! Truly! I know this to be true, and have seen it first-hand!
5. Get IN to community. Connect with others. Don't isolate, but reach out.
Here are some practical ways you can STOP FOCUSING on hassles. Choose to "look away" from them! How do you do that?
1. STOP following friends or acquaintances on Facebook whose posts ALWAYS seem hassled, offended, harried, negative or angry. You don't need to unfriend them, they'll never know you have turned off notifications to their page or unfollowed their news feed.
2. Reconsider where you source your news from. Maybe it's even time to take a short of long break for awhile from the doom and gloom of what passes for "news" these days? Do you fill your mind with the headlines several times a day? Is the world going to evaporate if you unplug from the news for a day? A week? A month?
3. What about that drive to and from work? How about leaving 10-15 minutes early for work so that the rush-hour traffic is less of a frantic, hectic hassle because you now have more time to get where you need to go?
4. What do you listen to on that commute back and forth to work? Talk radio? Peddlers of pessimism? Try changing to an audiobook or listening to your favorite music.
Try these things for a few days, a week, or a month then reflect on the changes they can make in your life.