Happiness Is Healthy!

Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t worry be happy”? Don’t we all wish it could be that easy! In the midst of work, carpooling, soccer practice, homework, juggling busy schedules, taking care of pets, “happy” does not always feel like a natural emotion. 

Overall, I feel “happy” the majority of every single day, but I haven’t always. I love my station in life and all of the chaos and craziness that comes with it, but let’s be honest. We all are human and experience the entire spectrum of emotions throughout our days—not just the blissful, happy feeling we all strive to attain … and maintain! 

But, do you feel happy when you are woken up for the umpteenth day in a row at 5 a.m. by a toddler after nights where your head didn’t hit the pillow until after midnight? And surprise homework assignments, lunches yet to be made, and other must-do chores have you feeling less than enthusiastic. In those moments where it is challenging to find the happy, we have to dig deep, take a big cleansing breath, and practice gratitude. It is physically impossible to be angry, grumpy, or anything other than happy and peaceful when you approach each situation from a place of gratitude. Have you ever tried?

I share this insight from an amazing experience I had several months ago. My husband and I had a minor misunderstanding one night after the kids had gone to bed (yes, that happens to us on occasion too). I went to my normal “reset spot,” which is the middle of our sloped driveway to sit and take some deep breaths. I was irritated because I felt so misunderstood, and I could not shake it. God somehow cut through my irritation, which led me to pray. I thanked God for all of the things about my husband that I was most grateful for. Immediately, my self-centered frustration began to melt away. I went back inside, hugged him, and told him I loved him—and I wasn’t forcing it like I stubbornly sometimes do. I’ve applied this “gratitude trick” to numerous situations, and it truly resets my brain to a happy and more peaceful intention. 

Happiness is a conscious decision. It takes practice and discipline. There is no question, though, that the more intentional you are about consistently choosing happiness, the easier, more frequent, and more natural it becomes. You receive the energy you put out into the universe. So next time you’re feeling especially stressed or unhappy, just kick back, go to your happy space, count your blessings, and smile … the universe will smile back!

Just What the Doctor Ordered: (Sidebar)

Research has shown over and over that happiness is good for your health. In addition to the fact that contentment strengthens your immune system and prevents disease, here are some other healthy tidbits to consider (based on individuals who scored high on happiness and optimism scales)—

  • Happy people are 35 percent less likely to get a cold.
  • Folks who cultivate happiness produce 50 percent more antibodies in response to flu vaccines.
  • They have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and infections.
  • People who are able to maintain a good sense of humor, an indication of inner happiness, outlive those who do not keep jocularity prominent.
  • Those who score high on the happiness scale also live longer with cancer and/or are more likely to beat it. One study found that a sense of humor cut a cancer patient’s chance of premature death by up to 70 percent.