It seems like such a given of an aspiration, doesn’t it — the simple desire for a happy and healthy life? And yet, guilds of writers, philosophers, and Buddha wannabes expound on how to achieve it.
For all our modern advances and easy-access knowledge, we humans still go about trying to reinvent the wheel. Or so it seems with the simplest of quests.
And that meddling little thing called Life sure has a way of interrupting its own bliss at the most inopportune times.
In the infinite wisdom of Rosanne Rosanna Danna, “It’s always something. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. It’s always something.”
Sometimes we humans just need to be reminded. Pulled back a little. Put on pause. Baptized in a font of crystal clear simplicity and essential proverbs to keep us connected to what matters.
If you’re in need of a little refresher course in building a happy life that’s healthy too, you’re in the right place.
Some of these practices belong in your daily routine. And some lend themselves more to a weekly, monthly, or yearly routine. But they will all help to reawaken your happiness.
Here are some easy tips for steering your life in the direction of happiness and health.
Eat nutritious foods.
Eating healthfully can seem so boring, especially if you have to do all the prep and cooking. It’s far easier to reach for a box in the freezer or that chocolate stash in your purse.
But our bodies — these miraculous, perfectly orchestrated servants during our time on earth — rely on quality fuel to do their job. Eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, for example, does more than just help maintain a healthy gut and weight. It also helps provide sustainable energy and a balanced mood.
Yes, you really are what you eat.
Drink plenty of water.
Your body needs water for every single function. Without it, toxins and metabolic waste are forced to linger in your body.
Many dysfunctions — physical, mental, and emotional — can be traced back, at least in part, to dehydration. If you’re not providing a steady flow of water throughout the day, your body will be forced to recycle the old stuff. Yuk.
Get plenty of sleep and have a sleep schedule.
Leading a happy and healthy life requires knowing when it’s time to work…time to play…and time to rest.
If you shave off even one hour of sleep a night, you will be a full night sleep-deprived by the end of the week. And the effects of sleep deprivation can be debilitating to your body, mind, productivity, and happiness, both now and down the road.
Your body was designed to move. Indulge it, and reap the rewards of all those wonderful endorphins that exercise releases.
Take a walk after dinner.
Put on some music and dance with your family in the evening.
Enroll in a new weekly class.
Get on your Peloton and give your digital trainer a ride for his money.
Just make intentional, sustained movement a part of your daily life.
Get out into nature.
Nature has a way of connecting us to what is pure and “now.” There is a frequency to the sights, sounds, and energy of nature that is calming and healing to the mind and spirit.
Find new trails for walking your dog.
Buy an annual pass to your state parks and visit a new one every month.
Plant flowers in the spring and fall.
Put your bare feet into a flowing creek.
Climb a mountain, sit on a rock, watch a falcon dive.
Just “be” in Creation.
Consider taking your love for nature one step further and volunteer to help with clean-up efforts in your own community.
Stay connected to people you love and enjoy.
Social connection has been proven time and time again to be essential to a happy and healthy life. Those who maintain meaningful connections with friends and family live longer and are healthier and happier than those who isolate.
Help someone else.
There is nothing like doing for others that does so much for your own happiness. And the more genuine and selfless your intentions, the more genuine and lingering your own satisfaction will be. That’s just the way kindness, generosity, and love work.
Imagine what an amazing world it would be if everyone was committed to helping others!
You don’t even have to go looking for opportunities. Just say “yes” to the countless invitations that present themselves to you in both small and big ways. By opening your heart to giving, you also open your heart to receiving. Isn’t it wonderful the way that works?
When is the last time you heard of someone leaving a peaceful, happy, simple existence to take on the craziness of Wall Street?
Not that it doesn’t happen. But the stories that capture our attention are the ones that involve leaving the craziness to find joy in simplicity.
You can embrace the same principle without giving up your day job or moving out of town. Just start decluttering, letting go, simplifying.
Create a ritual around the process if doing so helps you release what no longer serves you. And always keep a visual of the calmness and peace that come from living with purpose and intention.
Go somewhere new at least once a year.
Everyone needs a break from the daily grind. Every mind needs fresh stimulation. And every relationship — even the one with yourself — needs a periodic adventure to re-energize itself.
If you’re tight on funds, make the most of a day or weekend drive. The benefits of this ritual are really dependent on your own intentions and openness to life’s surprises.
Gratitude is perhaps the simplest, most benevolent key to “being in the moment.” It stops you from reaching into the future with longing for what you don’t have. And it stops you from looking into the past for things that belonged only to the past.
An attitude of gratitude sets your focus on what is. It is a commitment to looking for beauty, goodness, and abundance — in nature, in the world, in others.
Try wallowing in a pity party with a big smile on your face. Right? Kind of silly, isn’t it?
The very act of smiling has a positive effect on health, mood, and perspective. You have had a lifetime of connecting smiling and laughing with happiness and fun. So it’s no wonder that your brain rebuilds that bridge when a smile crosses your face.
And the added bonus is that your smile may be the greatest gift in someone else’s day.
You’ve probably noticed that nothing here is earth-shattering. Some tips are about caring for your physical health, some are about caring for your emotional health, and some are about caring for others.
In the long run, creating a happy and healthy life comes down to a mindset.
And, to return to the wisdom of Gilda:
“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”