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.
• Practice gratitude.
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.”
YT: Dr. Karen Finn is a life coach. Her writing has appeared on MSN, Yahoo! & eHarmony among others. You can learn more about Karen and her work at drkarenfinn.com.
Blog: I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can create a happy and healthy life for yourself.
Looking for more information about how to live a happy and healthy life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life
The process of divorce — the lead-up, the decision, the legal circus — is often more about getting out of unhappiness than stepping into happiness. Being able to say, “My life got better after divorce” may be a long time coming. But holding onto that vision can fuel your healing and progress.
If you’re the one initiating the split, you may be driven by the hope of a happier life after the divorce. You may be making plans in your daydream hours, if only to give yourself energy through a difficult and draining process.
Whether or not you want the divorce, you may also be plagued by the fear that your life will never be good again. Insecurities about your lovability, self-worth, relationship skills, financial security, employment, lifestyle, parenting, and social life can wreak havoc on hope.
But there are ways to set yourself up for both happiness and success.
And there are ways to strengthen your resolve en route to the day when you will say, with retrospect, “My life got better after divorce.”
Grieve.It’s certainly not the part of divorce you look forward to or think of as making your life better. But dealing with grief after divorce really isn’t an option.
It’s also not a predictable, linear process that you can schedule. But you can schedule sessions with a therapist or support group to help you recognize, embrace, and get through this inevitable consequence.
Losing your marriage and the dreams that came with it is a big deal. And the hole that loss leaves behind can be just as big.
Be proactive.You may not feel you have energy for more than just getting through your divorce. And you may have been emotionally drained before the process even started.
But, if you can take little steps every day in the direction of your current and future well-being, you’ll thank yourself later.
Divorce comes with inevitable fears and apprehensions. It’s a big unknown, even in familiar territory like parenting.
If you’re in the early stages of your divorce, start educating yourself and seeking out experts in essential areas. Take the position that you’re a blank slate. Research, ask questions, prepare, document.
Make it your goal to set yourself (and your children) up for immediate, short-term, and long-term success and happiness.
Think about how you want your life to look and feel several years out, and work toward that vision.
Create your circle of friendship and support.Engagements and weddings are cause for celebration and coming together. You can’t wait to “announce,” send out invitations, put your wedding picture in the paper.
Divorce, on the other hand, can be incredibly isolating. You know half of marriages end up here, but, for some reason, you’re the only one going through it right now.
Reason tells you that’s not so. But emotions tell you it is.
Start building your sacred circle of support. And be selective.
You don’t have to write people off or do a mass “unfriending” purge on social media. But get comfortable with the idea that some people who have been part of your married life may not be part of your single life.
And some acquaintances may unexpectedly rise to the level of trusted confidantes and forever friends.
Open yourself to support groups, both in-person and online. Consider hiring a divorce strategist or life coach.
Find a therapist you will be able to trust for the long journey ahead.
And revel in the fact that you are the one creating your new life and new (or renewed) relationships.
Take the high road.Much as you would like to look back on your life, marriage, and divorce with no regrets, you’re bound to have some. You can’t do anything to change the past, but you can decide how you go forward.
Even if your marriage was filled with fighting and childish behavior, you don’t have to carry that baggage into your new life.
You may still feel anger toward your ex. You may wish you never have to see his/her face again. But, especially if you have children together, a complete wipe-out isn’t likely.
You always have the choice in how you conduct yourself. You get to choose how you speak and behave around — and even think about — your ex.
You get to choose your words and outlook when you speak about your ex (and your children’s other parent) to others.
If you have proactively created your trusted circle of support, you have a safe place to scream, cry, and get things off your chest.
Exercising prudence and self-control when it comes to your ex may feel frustrating early on. But taking the high road will protect your relationship with your children and strengthen (and inspire) your relationships with family and friends.
And it will open unforeseen avenues for you down the road.
Shift your perspective.“My life got better after divorce.”
You’ve probably heard other people say that…and you’ve probably rolled your eyes and thought, “Yeah, right. That person didn’t have my spouse. That person didn’t have kids. That person didn’t have financial worries. That person, that person….”
And you would be correct…to an extent.
Your marriage was uniquely yours. And so is your divorce.
This is your journey, your story of evolving and developing self-awareness, your threshold into a destiny you co-create.
It’s also your opportunity to shift your perspective away from comparisons and self-pity and toward growth and self-reliance.
Your divorce marks an end. But, in the circle of life, an end is also a beginning. The two are inseparable.
Rediscover your passions.This is a time to remember where you put the key to your lockbox of passions when you were married.
What interests did you put on a shelf so your spouse’s interests could take priority? What talents had to wait for expression while you raised kids? What secret yearnings have you always had but kept hidden because “they wouldn’t get it”?
Now is the time to embrace your curiosity and creativity.
The idea that you answer to you may take some time to get used to.
But opening the closet door and giving your old self, your old passions, your old dreams some breathing room is a great start.
Become your own best friend.Nothing is more important than this. And nothing is potentially more difficult, especially in the wake of a demoralizing life event that can make you question your self-worth.
Learning to be OK alone — just you, your feelings, your memories, your self-judgment, your fears — can be a painful, unwelcomed process.
But there is nothing better than reaching that place where choosing and trusting your “all-oneness” brings a smile to your face.
Some things can only be acknowledged in hindsight. That’s why we look to our elders for wisdom.
We hope to find in their insight some seeds of preparation and prevention to plant in our own lives.
You may have no idea today how your life will look years down the road. But you can always live today as preparation for saying, “My life got better after divorce. And I never imagined it could be this good.”
(Need more tips on how to have a better life after divorce than when you were married? Click here.)
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’d like additional support rebuilding your life after divorce, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.