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- 1 Life Skills 6: Health and Happiness in Life
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Life Skills 6: Health and Happiness in Life
We often hear people talking about the health and happiness in life. Writers blog about it. Self-help books discuss ways to ensure it.
Realistically, almost anyone can attain health and happiness in life. Even those with less than perfect health may find balance in their life.
Let’s look at some important factors.
1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Many schools and colleges offer classes or at least a portion of a class on logic training. You might remember the “if this, then that” type of skill test.
However, not everyone learned those critical thinking skills that help with problem-solving. In the last article, Life Skills 5, we talked about creating and maintaining priorities. And those priorities help build your critical thinking skills.
You need the ability to break down a situation to make good choices, based on your priorities. Then, measure the possible outcomes.
Sounds simple? Yes, but really it requires some practice to learn to tackle life’s bumps and hurdles. And like so many things in life, continued practice is necessary to build and maintain these skills.
Learning should not stop when you graduate. In fact, the more you challenge your brain, the more fit it becomes. Keeping it fine-tuned ensures it’s ready when you need it.
Some ways to exercise your brain include doing a variety of games and puzzles. Think of crossword puzzles, sudoku, card games, and other thinking activities. Chess and checkers are good, too.
For those helping senior citizens, encourage them to exercise their brain, too. While studies are still underway, some suggest that dementia can be slowed by the use of brain games.
2. Synthesizing as a part of critical thinking
The ability to combine parts of a whole in a unique and new way can help us adapt and “roll with the punches.” This learned skill, a part of the critical thinking skill, is considered part of higher-level thinking.
Think of synthesizing as similar to a chef creating new dishes using ingredients from another recipe. By combining them in different amounts and ways, perhaps even using different cooking techniques, he creates something quite different from the original.
Many people fail to practice this after they leave school. But consider how it can help every-day life. It can help you pivot when life throws a roadblock at you and continue without the extra stress.
3. Exercise, Nutrition, Self-Discipline
We hear about the need to make healthy choices every day. Eat healthy foods. Exercise and keep fit.
But the ability to discipline ourselves to do what we know will get and keep us healthy is not innate; we need to learn the skill.
Human tendency makes us think of the moment, rather than consider the future and the effect our current choices bring. That bigger picture concept is easy to set aside to create a moment of happiness. But then our future self pays for our impulsive choices.
Of course, no one is perfect. Even the most self-disciplined person might fail to make the right choice in a difficult moment.
But when you consider health and happiness in life to be a gift to yourself, rather than punishment, you might find it easier to choose.
Begin with small steps. Add a vegetable to each meal. Park your care a few spaces away from the store to give you more walking. Have a piece of fruit for dessert, rather than that handful of cookies.
You can even go a few steps further. Make it a point to choose healthy meals most days, possibly even following a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet. Plan your exercise program for a certain time each day.
And if you slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself. But don’t give up. Forward steps, even baby steps, make a difference.
4. Take care of yourself
Remember when you were a teen? You probably took hours each day caring for your personal needs, showering, styling your hair, maybe even applying makeup. You took care of yourself and found your health and happiness in life.
Many times we get so wrapped up in caring for others that we forget to care for ourselves. Remember the safety talk given before each airplane liftoff. Provide oxygen to yourself first so that you can help your children or others.
The same is true of your health. You need to sleep and rest. In fact, lack of sleep leads to many health problems. And if you are ill, caring for others becomes more difficult, sometimes impossible.
But caring for yourself includes personal hygiene, too. Often new parents find it difficult to find time to shower and change into fresh clothes. Those caring for elderly parents may have a similar problem.
You may not be able to find time for a spa day if you have a newborn baby. But you do need to take a few minutes each day to ensure you have the basic essentials. Reach out to your spouse, a relative, or a friend and ask for a short amount of time for help. You might even hire a teen to be your “mother’s helper” for a couple of hours a day.
The important part is that you feel like your basic needs are met. Learn to take care of yourself.
5. The life skill of finding health and happiness in life
We know that good health usually means a longer life. And being healthy certainly helps us attain happiness, too.
But we need more than just good physical health. Our relationships with family, friends, pets, and God also help us feel happy.
Life is not all fun and games. Negative things happen. We might lose a job or have an unexpected bill. A friend may prove to be not so trustworthy. Or a family member may die. Things happen. Some good. Some not.
Even everyday struggles can test us. What parent hasn’t had a day when a child pushed normal limits? And who hasn’t had a day when they wondered what they were doing in their current job?
It’s important to remember that those are moments in the entire span of life. Don’t let them define your life. Use them to learn. Laugh whenever you can. And move into happier moments.
So take care of yourself. Enjoy your life, even with the ups and downs it brings.
Remember the song written by Bobby McFerrin and sung by Bob Marley– “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”