A person’s emotional health is just as important as his or her physical health.
There are various aspects of an individual’s emotional health, such as being sad, depressed, angry, insecure... and the list goes on and on. But one emotion that may trump them all is happiness.
Unfortunately, happiness is difficult to define and, frequently, it can be very elusive. Philosophers have tried to define happiness. Immanuel Kant listed rules for happiness, and they were, “Something to do, someone to love and something to hope for.”
The Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not ready made. It comes from your actions.”
Although not a philosopher, to me, a very important aspect of being happy is having good health. It is difficult to be happy if you have some type of illness that is associated with discomfort, malaise, fatigue and other symptoms. So don’t take your good health for granted, and be happy when you are feeling well.
A recent study was done to determine what it is that makes people happy. Some people believe that having a higher socioeconomic status -- that is, a lot of money and what it can provide -- is associated with happiness. However, the researchers found that, overall, happiness in life was not related to how much money you have, but rather how much you are respected and admired by your peers.
By peers, the researchers meant friends, neighborhood acquaintances, co-workers and people with whom they have frequent encounters. I believe that is just one aspect of being happy.
There are many realistic reasons why you may not be happy, such as your life is filled with stress, you don’t enjoy your job or you have significant family problems. But you can start trying to find happiness by enjoying and appreciating the good things that you already have in your life.
Appreciate your good health, and savor it. Make efforts to change the things that make you unhappy, granted this isn’t always easy to do. Remember the saying, “Don’t worry, be happy.” If only it was that easy.Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio in Massachusetts, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.