All around well-being is one of the things that humans seek most these days. In fact, it’s quickly turning into a billion-dollar industry. Why? Because more people today than ever before suffer from stress and illnesses that traditional medicine can’t treat. The solution is, of course, to build it into our lives, not to medicate the stress away.
Psychologists have found that what actually does lead to long-term happiness and all around wellness is a combination of internal and external factors, a combination of how we feel and what we do in the world, a combination of who we are and how we self-actualize. It seems overwhelming at first glance and how would you know where to start with all this, anyway?
One of the easiest ways is the start from the inside out, from the physical to the spiritual, from the concrete to the esoteric. Basically, start where it’s easiest. Who you are, what you do, how you do it, where you do it!
One of the easiest ways to change how you feel is by being more selective about what you put into your body! Scientists tell us that within seven years, every cell in our body has been replaced. By what? By the food we eat obviously. So make your nutrition choices good ones!
With 650 muscles and about 340 joints in our bodies, we were obviously designed for action so moving our bodies is necessary for our wellbeing. You’ve heard of the fit body, fit mind mantra? It’s not an accident that every ancient culture has developed a practice of daily movement that contributes to their wellbeing.
With the body sorted, the next concrete element is the mind. Forward thinkers say that continuous learning is probably the most important skill humans will need moving through the 21rst century. And not just any learning, but getting both your analytical and your creative brains engaged. It’s no wonder practices like playing the piano or building things with your hands has been proven to keep mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s at bay!
Emotional intelligence (EI) has been hailed as the most important intelligence, even over intellectual intelligence. In fact, studies have found that people with high EI and average intelligence tend to be more successful than people with high intelligence but average EI. Let that sink in for a moment, then work on understanding and expressing your emotions through a healthy outlet.
In fact, Lord Richard Layard, the lead on a study called Origins of Happiness, concluded that “tackling depression and anxiety would be four times as effective as tackling poverty.” Makes you wonder why most of the developed world continues to accumulate ‘stuff’ and ignores mind and heart.
Believe it or not, people who retire early tend to die sooner than people who continue to work. On one condition. They enjoy their work. This one hits two keys to happiness: meaning and mastery. This means that getting good at something and feeling like what we do actually makes a difference in the world (no matter how small) makes us happier and live longer and healthier than just doing a job that replenishes our bank account.
And speaking of bank accounts, it’s all good and well to speak about happiness, but we do have to ensure that we have a certain level of financial stability to maintain peace of mind while we live. The key here is not to focus on accumulating wealth for the sake of wealth, but to know how to manage what we have and what we want to use it for. Having a clear goal or objective that really means something to you beyond the money is essential!
Another element of true happiness is connection. Yes, believe it or not, even with all the money and accomplishments in the world, if you don’t have a good social structure around you and don’t feel connected to those people, you will still be unhappy. It’s mind-blowing but true. The people we spend time with and the quality of those interactions matter.
One of the biggest factors that influences our wellbeing, without us even being aware of it, is the environment. We are constantly being pushed and pulled by unconscious triggers that drive our behavior without us even being aware of it. What does that mean? It means that we need to be really deliberate about the environments we chose to live in, and we need to be active in creating healthier and greener environments. Nature is one of the cheapest healers out there.
And finally, having a spiritual connection to something beyond yourself and the planet gives you a greater sense of meaning and purpose, and somewhere to turn to when you feel despair. Scientists have shown that people who believe in a higher power live longer and heal from illnesses faster.
Finding a way to mix all the above into your life will help you hit the wellness jackpot.
How to do it?