As the days get longer and finally warmer, my mood has felt lighter, too. I spoke on a panel a few weeks ago on the topic, “Happiness,” and ever since, I have been thinking about what happiness means to me. As I sit and talk to my patients day after day asking about their mood, I have uncovered what I think is an epidemic that I call health anxiety. This has led me to wonder how health affects mood and if you need to be 100% healthy, without any symptoms, in order to be happy?
The words health and happiness seem to go together. However, given the fact that we are all destined to age and have health issues and eventually die, we need to find happiness even while we address health concerns. So how can we do this?
The answer is to understand what happiness is about after we strip away the labels that we place on ourselves and our illness or challenges. It takes a personal and very truthful look into how we individually define happiness to be able to answer the question, “What makes you happy?”
Here is what happiness means to me: I believe that we all have a purpose in life and it is up to us to figure that out. For each of us to find our own true north. I have found that as long as I am checking in with my deepest self and am living in alignment with what’s true and right for me, then I am happy. I feel unsettled and unhappy when I lose myself and get so involved with other things that I veer off my path. This also happens when I let my mind get too busy with worry and noisy thoughts so that I don’t pay attention to my own intuition. And then I rely on mind-body practices to bring myself back to center again.
I love meditation and guided imagery. I also love to walk my dog outside in nature, quietly and off the phone. These are called mindfulness practices. As you learn to quiet your mind, you can hear your deeper voice that can guide you on the path toward happiness. This can sound complicated, but it really isn’t! To help you learn these tools, Elizabeth and I have created a 1-Day Happiness Retreat we will co-lead on June 6. We’ll practice these techniques together for a full day of learning, sharing, and fun! We can only include 14 people in our group that day, so register soon!