As a lover of self-help books geared toward health and wellness, I often wonder: what truly makes people happy? Looking around the gym at people working out intensely, what motivates them? Walking by a Newbury Street outdoor restaurant and seeing a person laugh at dinner, what is making them happy? Obviously, happiness can be defined in many ways, but how is it defined by healthy and happy individuals? After doing a bit of digging, I’ve highlighted 6 different trends that seem to be commonly present in the lives of the healthy and happy.
1) They don’t sweat the small stuff…or hold grudges.
Ever notice yourself feeling stressed and “gross” when you’re upset with a friend or loved one? Well, those feelings of anger or resentment activate our flight-or-fight response, triggering cortisol, our stress hormone, to run rampant on our nervous system. Heightened stress like this can have an impact on the positive things in our lives: relationships, mental health, and physical health (less exercise, less sleep, etc.) What’s the best thing to do? Practice forgiveness and the act of letting go daily. Work meeting didn’t go as planned? Let it go. Argument with a friend? Talk it out, forgive and let it go. Clearing these negative channels will leave you open to more positivity in your everyday life.
2) They keep fit and positive company.
Friends that work out together stay together, right? Working out with a friend does a few things: 1) holds you accountable in showing up, 2) allows for a positive experience/distracts you from the workout in a good way, 3) can motivate you to work harder during your workout. The same goes for consumption of food. If you are out to dinner with friends that order unhealthy food options and a few too many drinks, are you more likely to do the same? Probably. If your friend is in a bad mood, can it put a damper on your mood as well? I’m sensing a trend. I challenge you to surround yourself with motivating, healthy and positive people. I guarantee you will notice a difference in your own demeanor and drive because of it!
3) Plants are their fuel.
Though the long-term impact of diets is still being (and will continue to be) studied, a team of scientists out of Mass General conducted a study that found a diet rich in plants decreased overall mortality risk and cardiovascular risk.* Stock up on your dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, #amiright?
4) Water is their best friend.
Our bodies are composed of roughly 60% water. When we sweat or lose even 2% of our body’s water content, it can lead to dehydration, decreased physical performance, fatigue, and even brain function including mood and concentration. So, how much water should you drink per day? There are tons of studies out there that debate this, but ultimately, trust your body and always have a water bottle on hand to quench thirst and stay hydrated.
5) Their money goes towards experiences, not material things.
Think back on the gifts you remember most. For me, it has always been around the plays that my parents took me to or the trips we went on. These types of experiential gifts hold positive places in our memory.
– Experiences are always unique.
– They involve social interaction with people you care about.
– You can recall them at any time.
The next time you plan to treat yourself or someone else to something special, try to make it about the experience and not the material gift. It will have a lasting, positive effect on both of you.
6) They express gratitude.
The happiest individuals work daily to cultivate an environment where they express their gratitude for the things, people and experiences that surround them. The act of gratitude engages positivity and can decrease any anxiety you are feeling towards yourself or others. The next time you go to a workout that you find particularly challenging, instead of beating yourself up for struggling, remind yourself that you did it! Be grateful for what your body and mind are capable of and you’ll leave every situation like this in a healthier, happier way.