Did you know that March 20, 2017 was the official International Day of Happiness around the world? There has been a profound shift in attitudes across the world, and we, as a people, are beginning to recognize that progress isn’t only about growing an economy…about money. Progress is also about increasing our happiness and wellbeing.
This paradigm shift can even be found on the global political stage. In 2011, the UN recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and began working towards an approach to promote happiness across the globe as a symbol of progress. In honor of this resolution, March 20th has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness.
As a doctor, I consider this an incredible sign! I firmly believe regardless of whether it’s the physical heart causing the symptoms, the condition of the spiritual heart must be addressed before complete healing can occur. We see the physical manifestations of poor spiritual health all the time. Maybe you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or perhaps battling an addiction. We don’t just feel these things emotionally and mentally. We experience them physically, too. Spiritual health is just as important as physical health!
In 1 Thessalonians, the Bible tell us to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We were created to be joyful, and we are not, our hearts manifest this issue. For example, a scientific study concluded in 2005 that happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure. In 2008, research also uncovered a link between happiness and heart rate variability, which is associated with risk for various diseases. If that isn’t enough, an additional study in 2010 found that expressing positive emotions regularly over time puts people at a 22% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease. In essence, happiness protects the heart.
Since happiness can seem like such an abstract idea, I’ve listed ideas from the official website for the International Day of Happiness on how to increase happiness. I want to challenge each of you to begin practicing these “disciplines” daily.
1. Do things for others
Helping others is not only good for them, but it also connect us to our community making us happier.
2. Connect with people
People with strong social relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer.
3. Take care of your body
Being active makes us happier. It improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression.
4. Be comfortable with who you are
Learning to accept ourselves and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, resilience, and well being.
5. Be part of something bigger
Meaning and purpose make people happier. People who possess meaning and purpose feel more in control and less stressed and anxious.