October 30, 2007

Stress Management - Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Are you surviving or are you living? Are you enjoying your life? Do you ever pinch yourself to be sure it is you who is living this great life? If you are not smiling and gently nodding "yes", then this article is for you!

One of my favorite movie lines of all time was Mel Gibson's character William Wallace in the movie Braveheart who said (as he was preparing to be tortured to death), "Every man dies. Not every man really lives."

We are often so preoccupied with the idea of getting healthy or living longer. Anti-aging medicine practices are bursting at the seams from baby-boomers looking to extend their life for as long as they can.

Would it surprise you to learn that your happiness is one of the greatest factors in determining your current health, your longevity and the level of health you will enjoy for the rest of your life? Just as health is not simply the absence of symptoms, happiness is not simply the absence of stress. Happiness must be cultivated on its own, despite stress; like a flower garden that grows despite a few weeds. Everyone has stress, so to wait for it to be gone so you can be happy is not realistic.

As part of your goals, it is important to find out what makes you happy and for you to work on making whatever those things are, a bigger part of your life. Happiness comes in many forms. Below are the aspects of happiness I think matter to most people. Give them some thought!

* Family
* Hobbies
* Sports/Exercise
* Travel
* Love & Romance
* Reading & Learning
* Praying
* Helping others
* Animals or Pets

A word of warning: because you enjoy something doesn't mean you should make it a business or career! This often takes the joy right out of something!

I believe that many of us are unhappy and we turn to things that can give us short-term feelings of happiness, but can be major pitfalls for us over the long term. Be careful not to confuse these items with happiness:

* Money
* Sex
* Food
* Gambling
* Tobacco
* Drugs
* Alcohol

So how might we be happy, despite our stress? The secret is to realize and understand that stress is a perception: the amount of weight you give a situation is how much stress you will experience from it. Take some time to think about a few of the situations in your life that have really "stressed you out". Looking back, was it really that stressful? Did you really have to put that much worry or anguish into it? Chances are, probably not so much. So what about all of the "little stressors" you experience everyday? Now there is even less to be stressed about, right?

Learn to let go, to keep your center and to realize "this, too, shall pass". I have a colleague that uses a magic line with me when I start to get stressed. He says, in his very grandfatherly way, "Remain calm". I love when he says that, and sometimes I really need to hear it!

So I say to you, "remain calm". Find your center. Find what makes you happy. Be happy. Put your stress in perspective. Let it play a necessary role to keep you moving and learning and growing, but don't let stress run your life.
Author: Dr. Brett Saks, he is a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (NMD), author and lecturer. His book “The Bio-Logikal Diet: Your Guide to Optimal Health” helps readers develop the knowledge to make better, more informed lifestyle choices that they can implement in their daily lives.

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