Happiness is defined as a state of well-being—a joyful, meaningful life of contentment with a purpose. On the other hand, it’s never guaranteed. Surprisingly, it can be overwhelming, as some researchers have noted, since being happy takes hard work, sometimes referred to as “endless struggles.” In other words, happiness doesn’t just fall from the sky into your life and those around you! Nor is there a joyful switch you can flip on! But being a happy person is surely worth the adventure I eventually experienced!
Where are you in this crazy, stressful world? How would you rate your joy and happiness over the last couple of years and/or right now? Think about it over a few days and then, using a scale (1=miserable) and (10=extremely happy), assess your life. Unfortunately, many are chasing gold at the end of the beautiful rainbow frantically trying to secure fleeting, happier lives. When John Rockefeller, one of the richest people in American history, was asked how much money would make him happy, he replied, “Just a little more!” Haven’t we all, at some point, wanted “just a little more,” never to be satisfied nor arrive at the finish line? People often ask: “How are you doing?” Isn’t our automatic response “Great!” when actually, many times, we aren’t?
Wouldn’t it be a treasured event if we could look back on our lives from our deathbeds, erasing heartbreaks, only remembering good times, and with forgiveness, smile, and say, “Thank you, God, for my life!” And, at this point, even though there were many very painful failures, disappointments, and tragedies, I wouldn’t change a thing! All the negative events were used by God to build a better person, increase my faith in Him, and prepare me to help others from my suffering. Looking back over the bad times, they turned into blessings! Sadly, many people die filled with regrets, guilt, bitterness, anger, remorse, or unresolved conflict.
In 2006, I was on top of the world…or so I thought and possessed “almost” everything that anyone would want. But God had other plans for me. I’m a very curious person, wanting to learn, grow, and share knowledge. While there were many warnings, my life was about to change. One alert came when teaching a Bible class for seniors, many of whom were in their 70’s-80’s. I would always ask thought-provoking questions like, “If you could re-live your life, what would you do differently?” The purpose was to learn from their mistakes, successes, and experiences, but alarms sounded when couples frequently said with painful regret on their faces, “We wish we had spent more time with each other and our families!” Their unhappiness was often tied to overindulging in areas like careers, making money, or running from one activity to another (with or without their children) and less on real values like enriching and enjoying “balanced” personal lives. They regretted their errors and felt it was “too late” to change. Aren’t we all guilty of their agony at some times in our lives?
Another major warning came while teaching a university class. Over 100 students had flown in from around the country while a filming crew was taping my presentation. Suddenly, as I began class, “I lost my sight!” I’m certain that God, in my “worst-imaginable nightmare,” decided, “OK, Mike, time’s up!” Fortunately, a staff member was able to step in and help me teach the course and after many operations, my eyesight was restored!
With all of these thoughts and circumstances as fuel, the realization set in that I had been driven by success to buy my happiness and live up to unrealistic expectations set earlier in my childhood. Many of us are haunted as if programmed by our past experiences that influence our adult lives. As psychologist Erikson noted, “We are trapped in the past with unresolved conflict unable to move forward into the future.”
My new journey continued while reading the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Although this bestseller focused on building successful businesses and how mature leaders behaved, it provided insight about continual improvement. No one can be happy and joyful all the time—everyone will experience unexpected tragedy, heartbreak, sadness, failures, pain, and disease. You really have to take one day at the time! At 56 years old, I committed to becoming a better person and learned to like myself—and others—in the process. As recommended by the bestseller “The Gifts of Imperfection,” we need to let go of the person others expect us to be and embrace who we want to be. Your real self is always there; it just takes some soul-searching and hard work to find peace by accepting the past and moving into the future.
As a researcher and person who wanted to live a life of contentment, I began an in-depth study of happiness that has extended 16 years. It’s very intriguing as to why some people with few financial assets seem happy and satisfied, while some of the wealthiest are miserable. Why do certain couples enjoy long, happy marriages, while others divorce or live regretfully together as roommates? Why do those who are struggling with disease, failures, or mistakes seem content with their circumstances as the Bible teaches us, while others with great blessings don’t? Why are some individuals positive, even in the most difficult times, while many are into gloom only talking about themselves and their insignificant problems or family, never asking how you are doing? My research kept seeking an answer to the question: Are certain people genetically predisposed to be happy and joyful while others aren’t? Are unhappy individuals dealt bad genetic hands?
In my quest for knowledge, many happy people were interviewed, much scientific research was examined, and 20+ books were carefully reviewed. I also asked friends and employees how I could improve? WHEW! That request flooded Pandora’s box! No one believed my sincere desire to change! My wife simply wanted the person back she had married in 1971. A lot of brutal feedback helped me to eventually alter my thinking and behaviors which led to creating new paths of happiness, joy, and contentment. In other words, I made a radical change for the better! It took a lot of work over many years to re-wire my brain, wipe the human computer drive clean, and install new software to build the person I and others wanted me to be!
A book that challenged me to think more openly was “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. In this bestseller about leadership, he focused on “habits to overcome in planning your future.” We often think that our life will get better, using the same, old playbook, and we are surprised when it doesn’t! Change is often required to successfully move from one stage of life to the next as we mature. That’s important because you have to establish where you are so you can determine where you want to be. Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else!”
I prefer to focus on positive facts that improve lives. But what causes unhappiness? See if any of the following resembles aspects of your life. The research noted that when we are young, we “think” we’re happy but our brains don’t mature until after the age of 30. Looking back, during our teenage years, we mimic our peer group’s behaviors and values. Our parents and others can influence our future in positive or negative ways. After graduation from high school, college, or graduate school, we chase careers, money, power, and other worldly things—not necessarily what “we’re passionate about and love to do.” We build layers of others’ expectations that can “drown our desired future.” We have children, which, like marriage, takes work if you do a decent job. We often place our children, jobs, and other activities over our marriages, which begin to fizzle, and we slowly drift from being lovers to roommates. Many live financially beyond their means to obtain things or impress others, thus becoming indebted to financial obligations—paycheck-to-paycheck. When both spouses are employed, their time is totally spent on work, childrearing, household chores, and “frantically running from-one-activity-to-another.” The poisonous media and our political beliefs add more fuel to our unhappiness. Many go to bed at night exhausted because there’s little energy left! According to a 2022 quality-of-life-study, most individuals aged 18-49 aren’t happy with their lives.
Life becomes burdensome and monotonous. We quit having fun and don’t have much to look forward to. We reluctantly get out of bed to the same old grind with few good things to be excited about. In fact, multiple polls document that half the American workforce is unhappy. We sometimes get stuck in jobs that we don’t enjoy though they pay the bills. George Burns noted, “I would rather be a failure at what I enjoy than succeeding at something I hate.” It’s rare, but exciting when I hear, “I love my job!” since employment satisfaction and home life happiness are directly correlated.
As our children leave home to build their own lives, the nest becomes empty and many couples have no joyful or valuable purpose, especially in retirement. Suddenly, we are in our 50-70’s, thinking what a friend regretfully shared with me, “This is not the life I imagined at my age.” Some call this a midlife crisis, but it’s a state of unhappiness and regret that has been ingrained in us over time with unrealistic expectations. We mistakenly believe that the responsibility of making us happy comes from things outside ourselves like jobs, money, possessions, and other people, perhaps our spouses and children. Many people try to relive their lives through their children.
Once we realize we’re unhappy, we experience regret and blame others. Studies also revealed that most people aged 50-59 rated their quality of life as unfavorable, but individuals aged 70+ were the happiest. Recent studies have shown that the older we age, seniors finally realize that the little time they have left is precious. Thus, we appreciate even ordinary events like a walk with a friend.
Unfortunately, many begin looking for greener pastures, not realizing that although the grass across the fence “appears greener,” it’s just as hard to cut. Current divorce rates are 42% for first-timers, 64% second, and a whopping 73% for third-go-rounds! Children of divorced parents are four-times more likely to sever their marriages! Researchers discovered that 50% of divorcees wished they had worked more on their marriage before ending relationships. Don’t we all, looking back on our pasts, “ache to undo what cannot be undone?”
On brighter notes, the average, first-time marriage age now is 30+ years old and fewer in this group are divorcing. Is it because their brains have matured and they are making better decisions? Perhaps they have taken time in selecting the right mates. As Smokey Robinson and the Miracles sang about getting married, “My Mama told me….you’d better shop around!” This song’s content has much relevant meaning for us today! Visit www.mikedubose.com/blog/why-do-people-divorce on the consequences of divorce.
Most of the time, there could be green, luscious scenery all around us if we just took the time to slow down, appreciate, and cultivate what we have. The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article 6/13/2022 titled “You Only Have So Much Time. Are You Using It Correctly?” by Rachel Feintzeig. She posed the question: “Are you doing what matters?” Many people travel through life building joyful experiences, while others go down dark, unhappy roads. America, while one of the richest democracies in the world, is only ranked 19th in happiness! (Denmark is #1).
Yale University psychologist, Dr. Lauri Santos, developed a college course on happiness which I recently attended on-line in 2022. She brought in university-researchers and best-selling authors as presenters who studied happiness and shared how we can change our habits and experience joyful lives. Santos created the curriculum because many Yale students were experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression. She admitted her own happiness as “less than average!” The following are some important items gleaned from the course and our studies.
Genetics: Based upon extensive research with twins, neuroscientists determined 50% of our personality and happiness is pre-wired by DNA. Even prior to birth, the mother’s moods and circumstances influence the child’s psyche. Thus, positive people see the glass “half-full” while others negatively perceive the same container as “half-empty.” This explains why one child is different from another sibling born to the same parents. While environmental factors impact lives, our personality chemistry is complicated. We don’t have much control over our genetic-wiring system, so, if you want to alter your life for the better, you’ll experience serious battles with your thinking. The mind will fiercely resist change, send the wrong signals when encountering situations, and often steer your reactions in harmful directions. We know that health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bi-polar, and other medical diseases can be traced to family genetic history. In other words, you could be pre-destined to be joyful or unhappy, and your genetics will instruct you that “you’re fine just the way you are.” But that doesn’t mean you give up without fighting! You have to work towards becoming happier!
Circumstances: About 10% of our happiness or dissatisfaction is based on situations sometimes beyond our control. These include the economy, stressful work environments, politics, long-term financial hardships, post-traumatic syndromes, hostile marriages and divorces, sudden-family-member deaths, diseases, disabilities, abuses, complicated griefs, chronic stresses, etc. Of course, people handle these circumstances in various ways, but many are long-term, difficult, and damaging situations that rob our joy over time. It’s interesting that when a violent storm is approaching, buffalo charge the storm because they know that the frightening part is short-lived, whereas cattle panic and will run away from the storm which will follow them for many miles! Don’t we all run away from our past and problems at times, while we are stuck in the storm that is chasing us?
Manage Life Experiences: Recent studies determined that 40% of what goes on around us and in our thought-processes are “within our control” to improve our happiness. Important—Researchers have concluded that these areas need our focus to grow joy versus concentrating on uncontrollable or the wrong areas that won’t. In other words, “Follow and nurture your passions, gifts, opportunities for improvement, and potential for fun!”
Determine your signature strengths: Scientists with the Institute on Character accurately discovered everyone possesses 24-character-strengths in different degrees. Visit www.viacharacter.org for details and take a free, easy-to-complete assessment, along with 21 million individuals, to recognize your gifts. Some of our assets include excellence, creativity, curiosity, forgiveness, gratitude, hope, humility, humor, love, learning, and spirituality. Santos recommended to identify our greatest strengths and expand them if we want to live happier lives. The Bible echoes similar gifts in Galatians 5:22-23 with the “Fruits of the Spirit” which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Know what doesn’t make you happy: Research has confirmed that making more money, buying or owning stuff, striving for higher-paying jobs, and building perfect bodies won’t make you happier. Of course, work that we’re passionate about adds happiness, but most employment situations aren’t necessarily joyful! And trying to have a perfect body—forget it! It’s not “the things” in life that make us joyful. Happiness isn’t getting everything you want, but rather enjoying what you have! As the Rolling Stones sing, “No… you can’t get what you want, but if you try…sometimes…you’ll get what you need.”
Want a better life: In my publications, the quote “a 1,000-mile-journey begins with the first step” is often used because it applies to many aspects of our lives. Before any planning, you must have an unwavering, strong desire with an “open mind” to improve your life and be happier, no matter your age or circumstances! In my conversations with Harvard University psychiatrist Alex Vuckovic, MD, he shared: “If you want to change behavior, it will take time and small steps. You cannot suddenly say, ‘I’m going to be happy beginning today!’” Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, commented “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the second one which has been opened before us.” Does that ring any bells for all of us?
Develop new, flexible life plans: Go to a place where you can relax and have fun by yourself. Then, read some of our recommended books on happiness and reflect on your current life back to childhood. Socrates once wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Make a list of activities you enjoy, your passions, and what you really want to do with the rest of your life. What excites or deflates you? What are you doing that you need to “stop” and what should you “start” implementing to increase your happiness? What is lurking in your past that is haunting or trapping you from moving forward into the future? Identify the encouraging, positive people who lift you up and which negative individuals drag you down. What are your opportunities for improvement? Define what “being a better, happier person” is to YOU and not to others! Listen to the voice inside you that’s screaming for happiness. Make a list for the future!
Let’s examine strategies that are proven to work! Remember acquiring joy is a “long journey” implemented through small steps, and for some, that can take years! Happiness is an ongoing daily process that takes work. Of course, no one will follow all of these suggestions, but the more you implement, the higher your chances of obtaining a happier life.
Hope for the best and plan for the worst! This philosophy has served us well in our companies and personal lives. Enjoy the highs and joys of daily life but know that suffering is part of living. Embrace mistakes, misfortunates, and failures as pathways to success and happiness. When going through painful conflicts, after the storms pass, seek opportunities to learn, grow, and help others from your experiences. Avoid letting fear dominate your life. As Elbert Hubbard wrote, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearful.”
Reduce negativity: Surround yourself with positive people and fun events. Negative individuals will draw you into dark, wasteful thinking. Instead, seek positive persons who lift you in bad times, fill your empty glass, encourage laughter, and inspire you. Proactively schedule meals or fun activities with them—avoid waiting to be invited! Don’t watch the news or political talk shows. The one-sided- and biased-media goal is to make money and can be compared to drug-pushers who capture your mind by spewing poisonous news, leading to anger, depression, and anxiety. You cannot achieve happiness by watching and listening to one-sided, bitter news. Read the topics you wish to follow. Avoid any political discussions with others. The Wall Street Journal concluded cockroaches are more popular than self-serving-politicians! Above all, stay social and avoid isolation which is detrimental to happiness.
Reduce stress: Identify anyone or anything that bothers you! Your assessment should include both major and minor things that irritate you, since small ones added together, can become a major item in your unhappy life! Long-term studies confirm that stress disables us, promotes disease, and brings unhappiness. Stressful workplaces and negative, rushed lives are killing us! Our bodies react to stress by emitting excessive amounts of harmful hormones like cortisol and adrenaline over long periods of time. Scientists have determined happy people who reduce and productively manage their stress live 10+ years longer than unhappy individuals.
Practice Getting Things Done: It becomes stressful to feel that you are not accomplishing certain tasks each day. Procrastination adds to the suffering and unhappiness. Make simple tasks with calendar reminders that are doable versus overwhelming, long lists that cannot be completed. Try to have an organized, not perfect, home and office. When you live in a reasonable, neat environment, it makes you feel better. While we like to hang on to our past, get rid of clutter. If you have not used the items within a couple of years, donate, trash, or give them to loved ones.
Forgive others and seek forgiveness: Research confirms difficulties of happily moving into the future if you have unresolved conflicts, regrets, unforgiveness, and bitterness. All of us have experienced wrongs in our past, and often, we can’t let go. If possible, confront guilty persons in civil ways, explain their offenses, and forgive them. If that’s not possible, if you feel uncomfortable doing so, or the person is deceased, write a letter to them, burn or shred it, and/or visit their graves (and let them hold it!). General Colin Powell once said, “Get angry and get over it! Then, move on with life.” Of course, that is often easier said than done! You can’t forget pain and verbal or physical injuries, but you can recognize suffering is used by God to grow us and help others we know. Channel your past hurts towards a greater good!
Learn from watching others on how to be a loving parent and grandparent. You’ll never forget harmful, damaging things that were inflicted on you, but you can choose not to dwell on them. Our minds are programmed not to forget “where the hatchet is buried” and to harbor angry, festering feelings. Or, worse, replicate them as an adult.
As outlined in our article on trauma, you want to identify and work through harmful events in your life. Once that has been accomplished facing any past or current conflicts, based on our studies of hypnosis, you can train your brain, over time, to avoid negative, unhealthy thoughts. If you repeat this mind-command “I will not think this way” when bad events surface, with God’s help, you can train yourself to minimize painful memories and they will eventually diminish. Trust me, while it takes time, this mental command works!
Likewise, seek forgiveness from anyone you have hurt or said regretful things to by letter or in-person. You’ve got to erase the slate to find happiness, and it’s not easy to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Can you forgive me?” But it’s refreshing to reach out to them for a “win-win.” Seeking forgiveness relieves you of your painful, burdensome past and provides you with a gift! Ask God to mend your wounds and allow forgiveness. After all, if He created the universe, He will help you!
Sometimes, it requires skilled counselors to guide you through violent storms. Visit our article on overcoming bitterness www.mikedubose.com/blog/the-path-of-bitterness-a-a-tough-road-to-travel and look for our tips on a soon-to-be-released article on how to find competent therapists.
If you’re married, place your spouse first: Sometimes marriages deteriorate over time for many reasons. It’s a joyful event when unhappy couples re-discover their love for one another. Sure, it may not be the same experience as when you were married in the early years, but it’s definitely doable and worth the effort! Like happiness, having a good marriage takes work! Visit our non-profit website www.mikedubose.com/blog/67-tips-for-a-happy-marriage for suggestions on building stronger marriages.
Just Say No! Warren Buffet recently said the most important word used amongst successful people is “No.” I’m often asked to serve on boards or give of my time to many worthy causes, all of which we support. However, life has taught us to follow our passions and use our God-given talents, experiences, and gifts wisely, doing fewer things we enjoy really well to impact the most people. Don’t allow your ego to make rash decisions when others ask for your involvement that leads to an overly-busy, stressful-life—focus on what’s important. The old saying, “Slow down and smell the roses” is really appropriate for many of us! Having a balanced life is so important since you only have so much energy and time!
Stop placing people in your box: One of the greatest achievements I have made in life was to quit expecting people to think or act like me. We should appreciate, understand, respect, and encourage sharing our differences. Avoid being rigid thinkers—practice being open-minded. Avoid trying to micromanage other people’s lives, but rather focus on your own sandbox.
Tell yourself you’re dumb: I’m sure that raised eyebrows, but a philosophy I believe in! You can’t learn and grow if you think you have all the answers! Some individuals with low self-esteem often over-compensate by being arrogant, dominating, rigid, know-it-alls, not entertaining others’ opinions. Throw out everything you know, stay open to change, and create a new, exciting life. In other words, reinvent yourself! It’s OK to be imperfect, make mistakes, and fail. In fact, those are my greatest teachers!
One of the worse happiness killers is trying to be a perfectionist! While you want to strive for excellence, taking it too far is dangerous and unhealthy. You can never have a perfect life nor should we expect others to follow our unrealistic expectations as well to be happy! Eagerness to learn and willingness to change are two keys to a fulfilling life. It’s amazing how much I learned and grew when I started my life over with humility! Thus, “dumb is good!”
Follow your passions and establish your life’s purpose: Figure out what you love to do. Envision what would make you get out of bed most mornings with some excitement. Then, plot a course towards that passion, even if it means giving up a good, high-paying job you may not like and following your dreams. It will take some time, but if you can dream it, you can do it! My passion is connected to our family’s purpose of “Creating opportunities to improve lives.” I love to research interesting topics, read books, and create articles that help others. When I publish one column, it can benefit hundreds of individuals! “Now, that’s a thrilling ministry!!” As Robert Browning said, “To do good things in the world, first you must know who you are and what gives meaning to your life.” If someone were to ask you, what would you say your purpose in life is? If you don’t have one, create it!
Encourage people to want to be around you: Have you noticed that when meeting people, they often talk about themselves and their problems or family, and never inquire about your life? If you want to attract positive people, listen without dominating, and strive to have interesting, positive, two-way conversations. Make it a point to ask questions about their lives. Avoid politics and negativity while looking for ways to make each other smile.
Be content with what you have: Many people cannot hear, see, or walk. Others are in pain most of their lives or experience disease and disabling conditions. Look at what’s right in your life versus wrong. Many of us don’t realize and appreciate the blessings we have until they’re taken away! When I lost my eyesight, I realized what a gift it is to have your eyesight!
Live within your means and strive to be debt-free: It is a wonderful feeling going to bed at night knowing you have no debt nor payments for things you could live without, and that you have saved for retirement!
Be nice: It’s amazing to see the outcomes when you are pleasant, loving, and positive. It’s a very satisfying state of mind that inspires happiness and joy! In their book, “The Power of Nice,” Thaler and Koval found “Every time you smile at and laugh with others, thank someone, or treat a stranger with graciousness and respect, you throw off positive energy. That energy makes an impression on the other person that, in turn, is passed along to others.” Practice doing good deeds every day, no matter how small, like paying for someone’s meal behind you in a fast-food line, allowing individuals in their cars to exit from side streets in busy traffic, and putting smiles on others’ faces. When people blow their horn at you, cut you off in traffic, run up behind your car, or give that universal-single-finger-sign, smile! “Don’t allow their anger to become yours!”
Donate: If you have the time and resources, give within reason! In her book, “Happier Hour,” psychologist Dr. Cassie Holmes reported that “Several financial studies have found that giving away money makes people feel happier than spending it on themselves.” The New York Times reported in a September 2022 article by Catherine Pearson, “The notion that kindness can lift well-being is hardly new. Studies have shown that prosocial behavior which is voluntarily helping others can lower people’s stress levels, and that simple acts of kindness like texting or calling a friend who is struggling can mean a lot to both parties.”
Learn: There’s growing evidence that challenging our brains can increase knowledge and reduce the chances of dementia. We are creatures of habit so our minds prefer to do familiar things and will resist change. Learning new activities, taking up hobbies, and reading a variety of news or nonfiction books can help build new brain cells. You don’t want to trap yourself in rigid thinking but as Aristotle recommended, listen with an open mind to a wide range of different viewpoints, even if it’s contrary to your thinking!
Have fun! Figure out what makes you happy and plan it regularly! I was on the university’s bowling team in the 1970’s and it was fun! But I haven’t bowled in decades! But, in 2022, I realized that bowling was enjoyable and I regularly go now with my grandchildren. So, look to your past for the fun things you used to do and re-engage in those events! And join in new adventures and activities that you have thought about. In other words, “Think, outside the box to build fun experiences!”
Spend quality time with your children and grandchildren: Don’t wait for them to come to you! It’s never too late! Give them quality time and attention, instilling good values! Let your actions speak to the way you feel. If you have adult children, share but don’t offer guidance unless asked. It’s painful, but you have to let them carve out their own life and that means allowing them to stumble and learn from their mistakes. In return, they may ask you for advice. When they do, give options—not specific directions and guidance. In other words, don’t tell them what to do with their lives!
Yoga: Harvard University has proven meditation creates many positive effects. Yoga focuses on participants looking inward and becoming more aware of their bodies and minds employing stretching, breathing, and meditation. You can practice Yoga on-line at home or through in-person, one-on-one or group classes.
Diet: Harvard Medical School Nutritional Psychiatry determined correlations between what you eat/drink, how you feel, and ways you behave. Serotonins (the happy hormones) are neurotransmitters that regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since 95% of your serotonin is produced in gastrointestinal tracts, your digestive systems not only help you digest food, but also guides your emotions and how you behave. The Mediterranean diet improves moods and physical health, while potentially adding years to your lifespans. Sorry, but my favorite vegetable, fried chicken, is not part of that diet!
Medical Assessment: Since our bodies and minds are interconnected, we recommend obtaining a thorough medical physical, preferably by skilled internists. Ask for tests beyond the CBC-classical-blood-panels to include C-Reactive-Protein (to measure inflammation levels), Vitamin-B-12 (the-energy-vitamin), and Vitamin-D (deficiencies cause disease, depression, and harmful problems), full-lipid-panel, A-1c (if diabetic), and detailed thyroid assessments which affect psychological and physical functioning. You want to ensure that your body chemistry is balanced. Also, study any medications or supplements you are taking at WebMD.com or drugs.com since many have side effects which could be negatively impacting your moods, energy, and happiness. Drugs.com has an excellent feature where you can insert all the prescriptions you are taking to determine how they will interact when combined. When you look at your medications and supplements, based on our studies, outside of required medications, the fewer you take the better!
Exercise: Cleveland Clinic reports, “Physical activity, eating healthy foods, and reducing stress levels can profoundly improve mood, anxiety, depression, and sleep.” Even 30-minute, daily brisk walks can improve your mental/physical health! Just being outdoors during good weather and admiring nature can be uplifting. The shopping malls, especially in the early hours when they open, offers an alternative, less-crowded place to walk. The New York Times reported on 9/13/2022 that 16 studies suggest that exercise can reduce the incidence of and severity of disease, possibly including Covid!
Ask for God’s Help: We often forget that the Creator of the universe is there waiting on us to bless us, offer us wisdom and guidance, and help our happiness to grow. Regardless of your religion, joy and happiness are mentioned hundreds of times in the Christian Bible. While we may go through trials that build our faith and character, God wants us to be happy and joyful! We need to seek His guidance before the storms approach!
If you’re interested in pursuing more details about happiness, there are many self-help books out there on happiness! While you can find a number of articles on our non-profit website, some books we liked were: “The Power of Nice” (Thaler and Koval), “Your Possible Life” (Dr. Kathy Murphy), “Happy for No Reason” (Marci Shimoff), “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (Marie Kondo), “Getting Things Done” (David Allen), “Feeling Good” (David Burn, MD), The Gifts of Imperfection (Dr. Brene Brown), and The Bible (God).
The Bottom Line: Life is a short journey. One day you are young and suddenly, you’re in your 70’s-80’s. Holmes writes in her book, “Happiness is a choice. How we decide to approach our hours and spend our day determines the happiness we get to enjoy our lives.” As the famous philosopher, Forest Gump, said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get!” When the end comes—and that could be tomorrow—you want others to celebrate your life and the good things you did, not the success and wealth you amassed. In your funeral eulogy, the ultimate honor is for people to say that you were a humble, caring, generous, and loving person who thought about others more than yourself. Remember: life begins when you do. Start the new future that you thought was unobtainable. No matter your age, it’s never too late to begin a new, joyful journey.
Mike DuBose has been a staff member with USC’s graduate school since 1986 when he began his family of companies. He is the author of The Art of Building a Great Business. Please visit our blog for additional published business, travel, and personal articles, as well as health articles written with Surb Guram, MD.
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