The Pursuit of Happiness

As a culture we have developed a rather lop-sided idea as to how we perceive happiness. Instead of asking the question of how happy or joyful one another is feeling, we often take the approach of what can we do to help someone as if they're clearly not experiencing enough self-efficacy already in their life. Even when going to the gym we say things like "no pain no gain" or do exercises that focus on "stress reduction" rather than joy promotion. However, for most, the gym is not always seen as a happy place. For instance, many people are rarely excited when it comes to "leg day" but perhaps that attitude would change if we focused more on the benefits of what we're doing and the privilege of being able to perform some exercises with our legs that others don't have due to injury or predisposition. The benefits of unlocking a happier mindset goes farther than just how we perceive our environment and those around us.

A growing body of evidence is suggesting that increased happiness not only lowers the risk of illness but also the severity of what illnesses one will encounter. We already know that negative emotions such as sustained stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. What researchers are now finding is the positive affects that increased perception of vitality can have. In a 20 year longitudinal study completed in 2007, Kubzansky and Thurston discovered that an increased sense of enthusiasm, hopefullness, engagement in relationships, and the ability to face life's stresses with emotional balance appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, those who claim to experience a heightened sense of satisfaction in life typically have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and participate in activities of longer duration such as mountain climbing, bike riding, sailing, and distance running. 

Finally it is important for each person to define in their life what the word "happy" means for them. "Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment" is a rather difficult way to self-analyze our daily activities. The challenge here is to sit down and perhaps write out a list of things you want to do whether they be big or small. For most vacationing or traveling will probably be at the top, but focus more on what things you can do daily or weekly that could give you a more sustainable effect of joy (i.e. walking the dog, cooking your favorite meal, driving with the windows down). Look into making happiness not just a goal but a process so as to avoid the constant roller-coaster of attaining a goal and then scrambling to try and find a new one. 

Obviously there is much to be said about the pursuit of happiness and the way we go about it in our lives differs from one person to the next. We are each wired with our own personalities and desires that make us unique from one another. However, we should all share the common goal of keeping our bodies as healthy as we can. This can be done most effectively through the proper implementation of fitness and exercise as well as the integration of developing a greater emotional well-being. Let's look forward to what will be a stronger, healthier, and happier future!


Fit Tips

Dehydration by definition is simply, "Dryness due to the removal of water." So it's simple, you just drink water to avoid it right? Unfortunately it's not that easy. With summer approaching it's good to know what exactly is going on inside your body during dehydration, and what steps you can take to detect and prevent it from occurring.