Lasting happiness

Can we do better than be happy?

Lately, I have been questioning the entrenched pursuit of happiness. I’m thinking that it’s not necessarily the target of our deepest desires, despite the current media onslaught pushing us to pursue it. Maybe the singular aim in life is something more. Let me explain.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpgI’ve written repeatedly about happiness over the years and for good reason. It has been linked to physical and mental health in many research studies.  Happy people tend to experience a better sense of well-being.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Feeling happy is generally a good thing. But what really underlies much of the quest for happiness is an intrinsic desire for recognition of our worth.  The happiness crave cannot be satiated without a reasonable understanding of one’s own value and the worth of others.

We know the drill. It’s been instilled in us from early on. Acquire that new smartphone or car, amass wealth and prestige, foster attention and notoriety, or gain intellect and scholarly success and we are told happiness will ensue.  But who has ever found that to be the case, at least in a lasting way?  Read more…

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It’s as plain as the nose on your face

Or is it?  Perhaps things are not as black and white (or gold and white in this case) as we sometimes think.

The echoes of #dressgate continue to reverberate throughout social media. My son and I were sitting on the couch when he showed me the picture, on his phone, of the now infamous dress.  He asked what colors I saw. I suspected a trick question, but answered truthfully, black and blue. It was obvious.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpg My son laughed skeptically and informed me he saw a gold and white dress. We checked with my wife who saw a gold and silver dress. Same picture, three different perspectives. What’s going on?

The explanation given for the dissimilar testimonies revolves around light wavelengths, visual cortex, and how each individual processes the information their senses acquire.  It seems they are not the same. Of more importance to me are the parallel lessons to be learned about our own stubborn beliefs and willingness to defend them. And perhaps we can extend the experience to grow a bit in our understanding of well-being.

@alexismadrigal tweeted, “The dress should remind us all: what you see is mostly a projection of what your brain expected to see.” When it comes to wellness, it is the same. Our expectations can be downright destructive to health.  After all, aren’t the so-called “rules” of well-being hinged on age, decline, parts wearing out, etc.?  And don’t we expect to see evidence of this played out in our own lives and on our own bodies?  Sometimes, we let our own convictions convict us.  Read more…

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The human mind can’t go it alone

Is there anything more helpless-feeling than being stuck in the snow?  Press on the gas all you want, you’re still just spinning your wheels.  Getting free requires a change in strategy.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpgCan’t the same be said for most of life’s ‘stuck’ moments? They call for a fresh approach.  The insight and impulse delivered by prayer can provide the needed push.

It’s been one of THOSE winters.  In the latest round of snow and biting cold, one neighbor and then another needed my help in freeing their cars from heaps of the white stuff.  Alone and feeling stranded, each was relieved to see me walking down the alley.  Together, we were able to maneuver over the deep potholes created by the solo efforts to get free.

Like winter, life’s challenges can be intimidating.  Health is the biggie… Read more

Resilience – Choosing to Get Back on the Horse

“Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” John Wayne’s on and off-screen persona has wide appeal.  His pick-yourself-up, shake-off-the-dust attitude made him a super star.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpgMany of us have something in common with Wayne’s movie characters; we have had to bounce back from challenges, rebound from adversity, dig deep within ourselves to find peace and normalcy. His resilience resonates with some part us.

“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever,” according to Psychology Today. Wayne made it look easy.

Most of us, however, don’t possess Wayne’s swagger.  And unlike the movies, life is not scripted, nor are happy endings guaranteed.  Yet, trust in something outside our own narrow perspective comes to the rescue in our despair.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,”  Read more…

Start

Take a cup of kindness this year

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”

A fresh start!  A rebirth! Renewal! We can get behind that!  A new year can spur us on to a healthy turn-around as we focus our best efforts on what’s important to our well-being.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpg There is nothing magical in flipping the calendar.  But there is something appealing about closing the door on unhealthy behaviors and their consequences.  A healthy, new beginning can result when one gives himself or herself permission to leave behind past failings.  The next step is to solidify in some practical manner the positive steps required to achieve our wellness goals.

Positive health is an emerging concept that an interdisciplinary team is investigating with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This approach to health promotes patients’ health assets while focusing on key factors that include subjective influences like optimism.  This can add to a healthier and longer life according to the organization.

But what happens when optimism wanes?  Read more…