Happiness: the Key to Good Health in the Years of Maturity

by Noelle Nelson

Last week I had lunch with a dear
friend who later texted me, apologizing for having spent most of our time
together moaning and groaning about various things going on in her life. She
hoped she hadn’t been a drain on me.

I texted her back that no, she
hadn’t. On the contrary, I value our friendship and appreciate our being able
to share whatever’s going on in our respective lives. That made me happy.

Not happy, of course, that my friend
is going through a rough patch, but happy that we can talk about such things,
support each other, be there for one another. And certainly not happy as in
jumping for joy, but satisfied, content, pleased with our friendship and our

Happiness Is Good for Your Health

Happy comes in many different shapes
and colors, but here’s the thing. Regardless of what makes you happy, whether
it’s the content/satisfied version or the jumping-for-joy version, happiness
has a direct and unmistakable impact on your health.

Extensive research – over 150 studies – show that
happiness, what scientists like to call “subjective well-being,” supports
better cardiovascular health, a well-functioning immune system, faster healing
from wounds, and lower likelihood of getting colds and flus.

How do we get there? What if your
finances are less than wonderful, your health imperfect, your family annoying,
your work life disappointing? Or worse? Where’s the happiness in any of that?

It’s not. So don’t look there.

Watch for the Tide

Happiness isn’t an all-or-nothing
experience. Happiness, for most of us, comes and goes. The more aware we are of
what makes happiness come, so to speak, the more we can tune in to those events
or situations.

For example, my friend loves to watch
tennis on TV. No matter what else is going on in her life, she can lose herself
and forget about her problems while watching a tennis match. For that time, she
is happy.

For me, it’s dance. No matter how
dreadful my day, no matter how awful some part of my current experience may be,
I will come out of a dance class uplifted and happy.

For others, such as Jean Bailey, it’s volunteering. At 98, she could
sit at home by herself, but that’s not what makes Jean happy. She’s been
volunteering at Methodist Women’s Hospital since she turned 62, escorting
patients to scans and offering assistance to RNs and techs wherever she can be
of service.

Jean doesn’t volunteer for the
recognition, although she recently received the Methodist Health System’s
“honorary lifetime V.I.P. Award” for her greatly appreciated and valuable

Jean volunteers because she enjoys
people. It makes her happy. Her “happy” certainly supports her being healthy,
as her spry 98 years show.

What makes you happy may be simple,
like diving into a good book, or more involved, like kayaking. It doesn’t
matter. Find something – find several
things – that make you happy no matter what,
and engage in those activities as often as possible.

With that, you will enjoy the health
that your happiness brings.

What are the two activities that
bring you the most happiness? Are you happy at least part of every day? Do you
think what brings you happiness has changed over the years? Please share your
thoughts with our wonderful community!

Let\’s Have a Conversation!

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