Because happiness and health are linked
I read an article over the weekend that resonated with me: 10 secrets of happiness that I’ve learnt from my patients
Most of these tips seem pretty obvious, but it’s always surprising to me how easy it is for people to live for years in various states of misery before trying to fix what’s wrong in their lives.
I remember a primary care doctor telling me that so many of his patients came to his office with nothing physically wrong. They were just lonely, unhappy, bored, or stressed.
All these negative emotions can have a negative impact on health, however. How many of us (myself included!) eat crappy food or sit and binge watch TV when we’re feeling low? We stop exercising. We don’t sleep well. Our muscles and joints tighten up. Our stomachs get upset. We get headaches or rashes.
Sometimes what sends us to the doctor is a physical manifestation of an emotional problem. And until we identify and fix that problem, our health suffers.
The happiness tips
So what are these happiness tips the author learned from his patients? These are the tips that have made the most difference in my life. Do any of them resonate with you?
Don’t worry—it might never happen. I am so guilty of this one! I tend to worry over all kinds of “what ifs,” which is a classic recipe for anxiety disorders!
Write a list of things you’re worried about. Revisit this list a month or even a year later. I promise you the vast majority will have come to nothing.
Be kinder to yourself. I’m my own worst critic, and sometimes my nasty inner voice just won’t shut up!
Stop being so tough on yourself. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it to someone you love, then you shouldn’t say it to yourself.
Be kinder to other people. I’ve read this inspirational quote many times: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” No one’s life is perfect, despite what they may tell you or post on Facebook.
You never know what is going on in someone else’s life, so give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve met very few genuinely unpleasant and hateful people. Most are just muddling along, doing the best they can. Try to remember this.
Stop trying to change others. This is another common mistake that makes us miserable. It never works and we are left feeling angry and discouraged.
There are two options. Either learn to accept the person as they are and change how you respond to them. Or, if it really upsets you, distance yourself from them.
Learn to say no. Be polite but firm! I still have trouble with this one, although I’m much better than I was years ago. I wish I had all the time back that I’ve spent doing things I had no interest in or wasn’t any good at. When someone else says “No” to me, I always try to respect that (and learn from them!)
While it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes, if you know that something is going to make you miserable, just say no. Don’t delay, because the longer you put off saying it, the harder it becomes.
Speak to a therapist. I think everyone can benefit from talking to a psychologist and learning a few simple skills for dealing with negative emotions. We aren’t born with these skills, and most of us aren’t raised by parents who know them, either.
You don’t have to have serious problems to benefit from psychotherapy — and even just one or two sessions can help.
There are a few more happiness tips in the full article, which you can find here.
Life is dynamic, so I need to constantly check in with my inner self and figure out what’s causing me stress or anxiety. Usually I can identify problems pretty quickly and—thanks to my own sessions with a therapist many years ago—fix them.
Below are some of the self-help tools I still use, as well.
Remember to be kind to yourself and others 🙂