The Happiness Factor

Maybe it was growing up with the Partridge Family (“…come on Get Happy!) but I’ve always been fascinated by the pursuit of happiness. I think it may be half of why I love the Dalai Lama so much–he’s always laughing and smiling. I’ve been pretty happy in my life, but happiness is one of those things that you kind of can’t get enough of. And more recently, I would say since I had children, I’ve definitely become more serious.

Children are full of joy so this may not make sense to you. It has to do with wanting to do the job well (this kid may be the next President!) and that ties in to my perfectionistic tendencies and my high standards. But I’m beginning to notice that my high standards lead to disappointment in myself and others more often than not, which is definitely not happiness. (Of course some might argue that you have higher achievements, resulting in higher accolades and self-satisfaction. Maybe there’s a balance). 

And then I can also get serious about political and social issues. I’ve always admired people who can argue a point with a smile on their face. Because I don’t know how to do that. I get all hot around the collar and upset. Definitely not happy.

So when my acupuncturist made a comment at our first meeting, “Everyone has cancer cells, but they don’t grow if you’re happy,” I thought, “Extremely simplistic (what about the babies and children with cancer?) but interesting to think about.” I do believe that positive energy and a healthy mindset can have long lasting health benefits. Could happiness be the key to the cancer prevention kingdom?

There are two sides to the human coin: the physical and the emotional. And I suppose the spiritual but that’s more controversial and besides, who ever heard of a three-sided coin? I have been working hard these past several years learning about the physical side, how to eat right for my body, how the immune system works, and how food intolerance can weaken it. But I haven’t spent nearly as much time and energy pursuing happiness. And it’s not just happiness that needs to be pursued, but joy, laughter, lightness and flexibility–they all factor in as well.

Lightening up may seem easy enough but for me, I see some more letting go to do first. To fully lighten up, I’ll need to let go of my desire to be taken seriously. I’ll need to look at what is keeping that so firmly in place because on the surface, who wouldn’t want to be lighter, more silly and more fun?

Here are a few things I plan to do to up the Happiness Factor:

1. Dance. I’m going to crank the music and dance at home even if my kids get embarrassed.

2. Sing. In the car, full blast and it doesn’t matter if I know the words.

3. Spend time outdoors. I live in one of the more gorgeous states in the Union. Time to start planning (after the cancer is gone) day hikes and weekend getaways to cute little towns.

4. Be more flexible. I don’t mean as in doing more yoga, although I’ll do that too, I mean letting go of it having to be my way. Maybe someone else’s idea is better. Or just as good anyway. 😉

5. Laugh. A lot.

Let me know what you do to bring happiness, joy, lightness and flexibility to your life in the comments below.


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