Last month I introduced the concept of achieving happiness following the five W’s I have thought through. These are
• Well-being of ourselves: physical, mental, and personality
• Wealth or absence of poverty
• Worthy partner/Spouse/Love
• Work and Retirement
• Well-wishers (Friends, Family, Culture, Religion, institutions)
Let’s talk about our own Well-being:
Everyone attempts to find happiness in three ways: Doing good for others, doing things you’re good at, and doing things that are good for you.
The first part of well-being is our physical health. It is straightforward to state that healthy aging is essential for happiness. Throughout our life, our goal should be to prevent an illness or accident. You must eat healthy, sleep well, see a primary care doctor, and consistently engage in physical activity. In addition, avoiding too much alcohol or caffeine will help us to keep unhappiness at bay. Of course no smoking.
Disability: People with disability have lower life satisfaction if their disability is recent and they lack social, economic, and health resources. Adaptive functioning will bring your happiness back to normal, but you do not have much time to gain that lost ground in your old age..
Healthy Eating: Research suggests that healthy eating leads to happiness. Medical students who ate a healthy breakfast every day and had three meals and 1–2 snacks per day had the highest happiness score. Eating together daily or consuming holiday feasts makes people happy. For some, cooking and baking bring peace and joy to doing for others.
Physical Activity: For many individuals, exercise works like any antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds. People who are physically active and not doing rigorous exercise are happy too. The goal is to keep moving. Exercise also brings people together; it helps you release your endorphins and brings confidence as you achieve your goals regularly. Outdoor hiking also brings you closer to nature and defends against negative moods. In 2023 study proved that physical activity is 1.5 times more effective at reducing mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression, psychological stress, and anxiety than medication or cognitive behavior therapy.
Sleep: Chronic Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of car crashes, poor work performance, and problems with mood and relationships. Sleep deprivation taxes the immune system and is associated with a heightened risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and depression. People who chronically fail to get enough sleep may cut their lives short.
Controlled intake of Alcohol: Research suggests people are momentarily happier when drinking alcohol. It increases the happiness level by 11% with the first drink. — but drinking more over extended periods does not make them more satisfied with life. Life satisfaction drops when one gets to the level of problematic drinking.
Coping skills and Regulation of affect: Learn to improve your coping skills. There are three types of skills.
- Appraisal-focused -accept, deny, defer or fight,
- Problem Focused -what can we do about the problem
- Emotion Focused coping : Journaling or talking, mindfulness, humor, forgiving, acceptance.
Regulation of affect can be achieved by: Naming that emotion, and validating that emotion, and resolving emotional triggers. Triggers can be biological, people, places, past experiences, our interpretations, our control issues, or expectations.
Like they say, “charity beings with home” and well-being beings with you.
Thanks for reading till the end!
Tarak Vasavada, MD