In addition to getting enough sleep, leaving abusive relationships, eating high quality food, protecting yourself from temperature and climate extremes, receiving help when you have suffered an injury or accident, staying out of jail, moving or exercising as much as is appropriate for you, and other self-care activities, it is helpful to maintain a happy outlook on life to stay healthy.
According to many scientific studies and also according to “Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness”, published by Harvard University Hospital, positive attitudes and emotions are linked with good health and longevity. Maintaining a positive outlook can be challenging, since it involves not allowing emotions to fluctuate based on situations such as relationships, work, politics, the stock market, or the weather. Instead, one must intentionally decide to have a positive attitude in life and do things to support those emotions and attitudes.
One way to support your happiness involves seeking out enjoyable experiences, i.e. going for a walk in the park, cooking a favorite dish, or reading inspirational literature. Another way is to pursue activities that are fully engaging and satisfying. These activities will vary from person to person; a common denominator is that when engaged in these activities, you will lose track of time, will forget about worries, aches and pains, and will feel like you are “in the flow.” A third way to cultivate positive attitudes and emotions is to do things that you feel are good and worthwhile. What is good and worthwhile can vary greatly, but some examples are volunteer work for the environment or helping those less fortunate.
Of course, it helps to be healthy in the first place – that will help you feel happier, but just as it is possible to love and work intentionally, it is also possible to choose to be happy.
This blog’s offer: contact me if you want some ideas about positive activities or volunteer opportunities. Also, it looks like our Nature Writing Group will be going out for a half-day hike along the Skokie River Trail in mid-September. Included along this trail are swathes of undisturbed, centuries-old prairie. Come join us or go on your own.