How to Live Happy and Be Heart Healthy
Being unhappy is the worst thing you can do for your heart. Smoking, over-eating, drinking to numb the pain, living a highly stressed life, eating meals that are high in fat, burying yourself into your work - are all ways to make yourself feel better when you have an underlying mood of unhappiness.
All these behaviours reduced your heart flow considerably.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, feeling good and being happy keeps you healthy. I am not just making this up. According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, "people who are naturally happy appear to have a lower risk of developing heart disease or dying from heart attacks." Happiness is not a state or a destination that you have to pave the path to. In fact it is living a live with accumulated things that make you feel happy and good throughout your life. Even thinking about the things that make you happy is happiness. So the bad news is, you are never going to get there, the good news is you already are there, you just need to reclaim it and choose it moment to moment.
Laughter is the best medicine. Yes, we have all heard that one and it is true. Deliberately finding ways, experiences and indulging in conversations that make you laugh will lower your stress hormones and increases the natural cells that fight off infections.
Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to experience joy and happiness in the moment. Especially when you are feeling down and sorry for yourself. It is very easy to feel happy and laugh when everything is going well, but it is in those times when you have little and big interruptions in your life that cause you to feel upset, angry and anxious when it is most important for you to switch your attention to being happy and grateful.
Ask yourself these questions, no matter how challenging it may be to answer them in the moment when you are annoyed, upset or anxious -
"What’s great about this situation?”
"What is great about my life right now?"
Go back to your childhood and be grateful to your parents for giving you life, feeding and nurturing you, your siblings and friends for playing with you, your teachers for showing you new stuff you never knew, to today and the methods with which you communicate and travel, the people involved in this infrastructure, your roof and the people who help put the food on your table and keep your space clean.
Two exercises I get my clients to do are:
1) Create your very own pleasure list, which is basically to list all the little and big things that they can do to make yourself feel good in the moment, easily and without much effort, time or investment, and
2) Create a happy playlist with 10 of your feel good songs.
Some examples of these pleasure things you can do are:
- Hug hug hug
- Give Rs50 or Rs100 to your watchman or maid, just because.
- Light an incense or aroma oil burner
- If you have a dog, pat it and cuddle it.
- Do your hair or nails yourself.
- Play with a child, your own if you have them, if not, find a friend who has a kid, or a niece, nephew and make a point to get involved in their lives.
- Buy something
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Call or skype an old friend.
- Take photos and look at your old photos regularly.
- Create montages or albums with themes.
Once you have created your own pleasure list, keep it handy and add to it whenever you think of something that can give you pleasure and whenever you are unhappy you can practice them.
So to sum it up, one of the best things you can do to have a healthy heart is to be happy. Happiness is not a destination you get to, you can’t postpone your happiness to when you go on vacation, when you buy that home or car or when your kids are grown up or your spouse retires or you find that special guy or girl. Happiness is the little moments of joy you give yourself every single day and living a life in constant pursuit of happy and joyous moments. Happiness is love and the truest expression of love is gratitude. Happiness is moments of pleasure and happiness is laughter.
Malti Bhojwani is the founder of Multi Coaching International, a Life Coach, an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioner, a workshop leader and an author. Her first published work is a Journal to encourage guided writing, Thankfulness, Appreciation, Gratitude – My Journal is available in all good book stores.