Friday, July 29, 2011

Happiness lies where?

I was standing at the book store looking at a magazine rack and was overcome with a sense of panic. Different publications telling me how to live my "happy life" and textually screaming at me how to "be healthy now!". It seems that being healthy is a full time job and I already have a couple of those. But then I remembered that I already live a fairly healthy life. I do what I can, and feel good most of the time. It's taken me awhile to get to this point but after some small changes in my life living well has become just like breathing.

So...what does a healthy life look like? That depends on what source you're looking at as a reference. Cosmo will tell you it's flat abs and good sex. Lucky will tell you the key to happiness is in a pair of great fitting jeans. I, however, am a firm believer that a healthy life has many, less materialistic, attributions. It's not just what you eat, where you shop and how you exercise. It goes much deeper than that. I think of my own healthiness in categorical terms. If you know me at all you know that I'm constantly trying to compartmentalize and organize into boxes anything and everything I can.

My healthy life is this...

Establishing yourself in a community and becoming active with it's participants. Whether it's your kids' school, a sports team or the fellow Twinkie eaters of America. Find something that you love and become involved in the community of people that makes it up. Yes it is as simple as going and saying hello to your neighbors. They ARE your community, even if they don't take their trash cans in right away or they make their own fireworks on the fourth of July. You'll feel that you are a part of something bigger and this feels awesome.

We can't all make a living at doing what we love. I doubt my IT friends love sitting in their cubicle 8-10 hours a day looking at code and answering questions like why someone's wireless mouse isn't connected to the computer. Find a way to tolerate. Have an active life outside of work. If you absolutely hate your job...quit. Shannon Kaiser says it better than I could in her essay at Tiny Buddha.

{Love} friends, family, lovers
Love a lot. Love ruthlessly. Love everything. Find a way to love what you do. Sometimes this means shifting your perspective but it's worth it. Love your community, they might become extended family if you're not careful ;)
Lead a life full of love. Give love and you will get love. Bring a friend flowers the next time you see them. Send a letter to someone in your family. Tell your lover how awesome they are. When you do this without expectation you will feel full of love and a smile might even creep up on that face of yours unexpectedly. Be open to love and if you are not or think you could (and probably should) do better then practice being open to love everyday...openness comes.

{Movement} exercise-ish
Move your body. Walk down the street, strike a pose, climb a tree, swim, dance to that song on the radio or jump up and down. Get your body moving for the sheer purpose of moving it everyday even if it's just for 5 minutes. If this is something that you haven't done for awhile it might suck and not feel good...until later...when you look back and smile because you hadn't done anything like that for a long time. Your body was made to bend so move those bones!

I could go on and on about the effects of food on our bodies and mind but it really is this simple: Bad stuff in, bad stuff out. Now, I'm not saying that a piece of cake is bad and if you eat it you will be a bad person that bad things happen to. But if you eat nothing but bad food you won't feel good about yourself, your body will feel gross, your brain won't work as well as it could, and you'll be tired all of the time. Eat food that is good for you and eat food that isn't with moderation. Have a drink! Eat ice cream! But eat some veggies and fruit and whole grains in there too. Your body will thank you in so many ways.

God, Jesus, Mother Nature, Allah, Yoga, Elvis...whatever works for you. We all have questions that no one will be able to answer. This is why we pray, vision quest, make pilgrimage, and meditate. We all search for something greater than ourselves, something to find solace in and hold faith to. Some of us walk into a forest and see God everywhere, some of us see our own selves. We practice spirituality to become more familiar with our inner selves. Spirituality is the idea of a path to self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be. It's cultivating a deeper connection and understanding of what surrounds us. And yes, if you haven't already figured it's complicated.

And above all...embody a sense of ADVENTURE. This doesn't mean you have to go bungee jumping or deep sea diving. Next time you're in Warrior II sink a little deeper into that lunge, explore a street in your neighborhood you've never been down, eat a fruit you've never tried before.

Yes, while I have made these little categories I know that there are more. I am always striving to live my life in a way that respects my body and my surroundings. Sometimes I forget but I always ask myself if what I am about to do, say, eat, etc...will make me truly happy.

Where do the successes to leading a healthy life lay for you? Comment with your two cents either here or on facebook. I'll choose one at random next Wednesday and the winner will get a special gift.

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