It’s no big news that happiness is a key component of health, and growing awareness of this powerful link is making happiness look a lot less frivolous than in the past.

Ninety percent of Americans agree that happiness can have a positive impact on your health, and research has found that optimistic people are 50% less likely to have a heart attack or a stroke.

A study by the University College London found that happiness improves the functioning of several other key biological processes, while another study from last November’s American Journal of Public Health says that happiness is a combination of feeling good, functioning well, and having positive emotions. Having all three in balance adds up to “flourishing”, and Coauthor Corey Keyes of Emory University concludes that people who were not flourishing “were at a dramatic risk of premature death at all ages.”

There is even a whole new discipline called Positive Psychology that shifts focus from fixing problems and advocates supporting strengths that can contribute to healthier, longer lives.

All this is well and good, but where’s the juice: How can we become happier, especially when we’re not getting what we want?

Here’s a taste of what’s helped me:

1. Get outside your mind and into your heart. By “mind” I do not mean the brain. I’m using the term in the Eastern sense, the monkey mind that constantly criticizes, compares, and plans. By “heart” I don’t mean the physical heart, either, but the energy center that produces by far the body’s most powerful electrical field. It is a place where your soul’s wisdom can surface which is often the opposite of your mind’s broken record (an antique recording device that used to sometimes skip).

An easy way to do this is to focus on your breath, either as a formal meditation or in the moments of your day. It is impossible to breathe consciously and worry at the same time. Sometimes one breath–one deep, delicious breath—is all you need.

2. Let go of your fear. Almost all stress is related to fear over a potential negative outcome, ultimately a fear of death. If you can see death as just a change of clothing, it loses it’s power.

How you do this is unique to you. What helps me is knowing that spirit wants my good if I’ll only open up to it.

Also remembering that no matter how scary a situation may appear, the divine spark of me is always working out the best outcome for everyone involved, so from a higher perspective there is nothing to fear, ever.

  1. Be sweet to you. Author Anita Moorjani. in Dying to be Me, attributes her cancer (it brought her into a near death state) to her own self-judgment and fear. She writes that her ability to recognize her own magnificence and to realize that she and the universe are one caused her healing: “the universe always proves me right in my opinion of myself!”

 

Wherever you are on your life’s journey, I wish you well, and lots of “Vitamin H”!

 

Gwendalyn Gilliam co-owns the Aloha Skin Spa Tahoe, where she practices massage therapy. Please feel free to send questions and comments to: gwendalyngilliam@gmail.com