The Happiness Debate: Does happiness equal health?

The Happiness Debate: Does happiness equal healthSome people say the meaning of life is to seek happiness. Others think it is a fleeting and self-indulgent feeling and other human traits such as usefulness, compassion and responsibility should be the basis of creating meaning and purpose in our lives.

Is happiness the purpose of life, or is happiness the result of another purpose? And more to the point, what has it got to do with our health?

While we are no happiness experts, it does seem that the desire for greater happiness motivates most human endeavors – whether directly or indirectly. And most people can’t argue the fact that we are at our best when we are happy (as long as we are not overly attached to what we think is making us happy).

Maybe we desire happiness because we have had glimpses of being at our best while in that state of mind. Perhaps, then, happiness is not our goal but a context in which we can achieve something greater. On the other hand, perhaps the search for happiness is the meaning of life in the sense that true happiness is the ability to reach contentment and peace no matter what life throws at you. Maybe that self-mastery is the goal of great living.

The happiness debate aside, it’s hard to ignore the facts:

Laboratory experiments on humans have found that positive moods reduce stress-related hormones, increase immune function and promote the speedy recovery of the heart after exertion. In fact, most long-term studies found that anxiety, depression, a lack of enjoyment of daily activities and pessimism all are associated with higher rates of disease and a shorter lifespan. Diener, a research reviewer of the study Happiness Improves Health and Lengthens Life said. “The general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being — that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed — contributes to both longevity and better health.” Click here to view full research article.

Now, of course, anyone can get sick. Happiness isn’t a magic bullet that guarantees health and we’re certainly not meaning to blame all illness on negative emotions. We’re just suggesting that the effect emotions have on our health may be more complicated than previously thought. Besides, when we are depressed, anxious or negative, we are more likely to skip healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise and eating well. We head for the coffee, the junk food, the cigarettes, the alcohol and the sleep-ins.

To look at things another way, does health equal happiness? We know that factors contributing to low or erratic moods are sleep deprivation, stress, physical pain and discomfort, inadequate nutrition and unstable blood sugar levels, and other health problems. If you suffer depression, anxiety or mood imbalances, it’s highly recommended you seek help not only on a psychological level but also on a physical level.

It’s difficult to separate the body and mind: if you skip breakfast, drink 2 cups of coffee and are operating on only 5 hours sleep, it’s a pretty fair assumption that you will feel anxious, edgy and then have an afternoon crash of mood. If you have adopted poor lifestyle habits over a long period of time, it’s very likely your mood, energy levels and general well being will also have suffered. It’s like a bank: what you put into it is what you get out of it.

We are here to help you make positive health choices, and we have a range of natural modalities that are very effective in stabilizing mood, boosting energy, addressing underlying causes of depression and anxiety (i.e sleep disorders and stress disorders), and enhancing feelings of well-being.

Firstly, we can use Naturopathy to assess nutritional deficiencies. For example, depression and mood disorders may be linked to low levels of magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, B12, folate and other B Complex, and essential fatty acids, to name a few.

We have products which improve specific hormonal/neurotransmitter deficiencies such as serotonin, dopamine and gaba.  For example; Proxan is a natural anti-depressant which improves serotonin levels; Gaba is a natural anti-anxiety capsule which improves gaba, the calming hormone; Prozestan is a natural supplement which improves dopamine, which helps give us the umph to get through the day; Stressan and Relaxan help to calm mood disorders which are linked to hormonal imbalances.

Secondly, we can use Acupuncture and Massage Therapy.

Did you know:

  • Studies show that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of clinical depression, even for patients who are non-responsive to conventional pharmaceutical antidepressant therapies. Click here for the research article.
  • An analysis of over 40 studies on Massage Therapy was conducted and the benefits they found across all studies were that massage causes a reduction in anxiety, depression, stress hormones (cortisol), heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, massage causes an increase in circulation, relaxation and feelings of general well being. Authors noted that reductions in trait anxiety and depression were Massage Therapy’s largest effects. Psychological Bulletin Copyright 2004 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2004, Vol. 130, No. 1, 3–18 0033-2909/04/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.1.3

In the meantime, how can you cultivate a more positive outlook?

In basic terms, this is how we can look at things:
1. Things happen that we don’t like.
2. We make it worse by being bothered by it or wanting it to be otherwise
3. We don’t have to be bothered by it
4. We learn not to be bothered by it through an ongoing process

Your job is to find out what works for you.

“No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” – Barbara de Angelis