Although the link between a positive emotional outlook, being happy and wellness is no secret, more and more studies are giving the scientific community reason to state this axiom as a scientific truth.
Being happy, scientists now know, has a definite healing effect on the body.
Twenty-five years ago, Norman Cousins, a world-renowned political journalist and a professor of medical humanities, beat an incurable illness by laughing. He wrote an account of that experience in his best-selling book “Laughter is the Best Medicine: Anatomy of an Illness.”
One of Cousin’s most famous quotes is: Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.
So there is now more and more scientific proof that your mind-set – whether you are chronically worried or chronically optimistic – will influence your immune system and your state of wellness – how often you get sick, the severity of your illnesses, and how quickly you heal from injuries.
Negative emotions and feelings of stress spike the production of the stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone suppresses your immune system, and therefore affects your over-all wellness.
So, how to be more happy and thus more healthy? Here are great tips to follow.
Simple Tips on Being Happy
Many psychiatrists, psychologists, and life coaches advocate getting into the habit of writing in a journal every day. You don’t have to write a book, just a few sentences will do. The point of this exercise is to give you the opportunity to vent. When you can express your feelings the negativity does not build up, and in turn the production of cortisol is lowered.
2. Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Also start a “Gratitude Journal.” When you focus on the things that you are thankful for, and that are actually working for you in your life, you can’t help but feel happy.
3. Meditative Exercises such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga
Don’t let these foreign-sounding terms scare you off. Many places now offer classes in these types of exercise, and the health benefits are clearly understood by even mainstream Western medicine.
These types of exercise not only benefit the body, but the meditative components have the effect of stilling the production of cortisol. You receive not only a work-out on a physiological basis, but an elevated mood as well.
4. Ask for Help
You will most certainly start feeling depressed when you start feeling overwhelmed. And then the cortisol pumps out and then you feel more stressed and more depressed, and you can see the way the cycle works here to keep you from having a sense of wellness.
There is a very easy solution – ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs help now and then – that’s probably why we were put on this planet with other people in the first place. Asking for help is nothing to feel ashamed about. Besides, you know yourself how good you feel when you are asked to help someone else – so give another person the chance to feel as good, by helping you.
If you are one who has “the disease to please,” and find yourself in overwhelm because you can’t say no to every request, do this – hold a mirror in front of your face, and slowly say the word “no.” Watch how your mouth forms the word; pay attention to the physical feeling of your throat, tongue and palate as you say the word. Then go out and practice it!
5. Depend on Friends
The human being is a herd animal. That means that humans not only enjoy, but require, the socialization that comes from being engaged with others of their kind. Social relationships are of paramount importance in being happy and therefore a healthier body.
Scientists believe that one reason why people who have active social relationships are healthier is that their stress levels are lower, and thus so is their cortisol levels. Strong social ties keep you happier.
6. Get a Pet
Another aspect of the mind/body relationship that has been getting a lot of attention by scientists is the effect of owning a pet. Studies are showing that the presence of a pet measurably reduces negative emotion and chronic stress, therefore, again allowing for lower levels of cortisol.
When adrenaline and cortisol aren’t pumping through your system, keeping you in a constant state of alertness and ready for the “flight or fight” response, you automatically relax. That relaxation leads to a sense of inner peace, and that, in turn, allows you to feel happy. Having an adoring pet who does nothing but live in the moment and exhibit happiness at just being with you, helps you feel the same way.
7. Walk on the Sunny Side of the Street
As the old song says – the sunny side of the street, and of your emotions, is where you want to stay as much as possible. Finding the silver lining, and not focusing on the dark cloud; seeing the glass as half full – because it is, actually – will keep you optimistic and hopeful about life.
Being happy is the cornerstone of all that you are. You have absolute control about that because you can choose the thought that makes you worry or the thought that makes you happy. You do have that choice every minute.
Author Sheila Henry is a leading expert on helping individuals achieve greater happiness in their lives, and has worked for over 25 years with a private practice in the field of psychology. Ever since she was a child, she has loved dogs. Because of her love of dogs, she has named her website: www.HappyAsYourHound.com.
Photo: Brandon Warren