Happiness and Fitness: A Strange Mix
St. Therese died at a very young age of tuberculosis. She suffered from the disease all her short life, but her writings exuded happiness from her relationship with Jesus. Mother Theresa groaned under the task she took upon herself. She was sick, she didn’t like the suffering and poverty around her, yet she persisted until she died with a happy heart.
Is happiness a key to being fit, or is to be fit to be happy? These are very tempting questions with no straight answer, except maybe finding solace in Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Short and simple, but true. Worry causes stress, and stress can be as damaging to the body as diabetes.
Happiness: An Indicator of Fitness
Studies show that a person’s health is the strongest indicator of happiness. But their direct relationship defies medical explanation. When we talk about health, what is meant is objective health, i.e., medical assessment of a person’s fitness. Where happiness is concerned, subjective health (our own view of health) is always alluded to. You may feel healthy, but are not medically healthy. The difference between the two can make you feel either sad or happy.
How People Cope
We are not always healthy, however, and when our health hits a bump, our happiness is affected too. Poor health can significantly affect every aspect of our life, i.e., independence, self-image, personal relationships, ability to work, or the ability to carry on with your basic daily activities. These can significantly affect your happiness, making you even more sick—unless you make a conscious choice to be happy.
Abraham Lincoln once observed that most people for most of the time can choose how happy or stressed, how relaxed or troubled, how bright or dull their outlook will be. It all boils down to choice.
Choose to Be Happy and Be Fit
The following are choices you can make to stay happy and fit:
- Choose to be grateful:
No matter how bad things are, there are still a lot of things to be grateful for. Being able to wake up, have a good breakfast, love and be loved.
- Choose to keep away from bad news:
Bad news can wear anybody down. Unfortunately, people are treated to bad news each morning. Skip the bad news and go to news that can help set your day off to a good start.
- Choose to have peace with God:
Beliefs are strong a balm to a wounded soul. Communing with God is a stress reliever. Networking with people of your denomination can help you cope whatever lemon life throws at you.
- Choose to be on time:
There is no sure fire way of being stressed out than catching up on things not done. Doing things on time allows you to cover all that needs to be done and more.
- Choose to laugh:
“Laughter is the best medicine,” remember? A good laughter cures a lot. It’s a good exercise for the tummy muscles, too.
- Choose to communicate:
As a widower with grown-up children who are not home most of the time, I often find I have a craving to connect with others. It’s a good thing that my favorite coffee shop offers a nice place to read or talk with friends if they are around.
- Choose to be active:
Idleness has killed more people than work. Do your thing, be active. It’s good exercise and an excellent way to drive away stressful thoughts.
- Choose to learn something new, something different:
A friend loves to say that reading and learning new things is the best hedge against Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s or not, a healthy mind is a happy mind. Or is it the other way around?