We have all asked ourselves this question at some point in our lives: what makes me happy? Some of us may never find the answer. However, what we can conclude is that to answer it, we must look for it.
We must pursue happiness.
Benjamin Franklin himself stated, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
Scientific studies conducted by Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan found evidence that positive emotions, such as happiness, improve the health and life expectancy of individuals.
Furthermore, there are proven things in life that help the discovery of happiness. Some are natural marvels of the world that are available to all of us. Some you have to chase long enough to feel the benefits. All of them give partakers the taste of what it feels to be happy.
So, what are they?
1. Finding purpose
This may be the most difficult one to achieve but is the most rewarding. To some, this may be working in a place where they enjoy or feel like they belong in. To others, it may be the feeling of being helpful and positively impacting someone’s life or the world, such as volunteering, adopting, engineering or teaching. Each person has their own definition of a meaningful life. Overall, it is a combination of giving and/or receiving of good feelings and values. Most importantly, it must be something you fully enjoy and that ultimately makes you happy. Visit one of our Senior Centers and we’ll assist you in finding what you’re looking for.
Harvard University has been tracking the health of 268 male Harvard sophomores since 1938. After 80 years of studying the students, they’ve noticed that those who spent more time building meaningful relationships with people had better health and lived longer. Of course, this can apply to women as well. Getting along with others is not an easy feat, but is rewarding once accomplished. Make the priority to spend time with loved ones, family, friends or even pets and grow the relationship. A meaningful relationship will promote joy, but you have to build it to feel it. You can socialize with others at our Senior Centers while playing Bingo or Mahjong or taking art and exercise classes, among many other events we have available weekly.
3. Natural foods
Our parents have always told us to eat our fruits and vegetables. Our parents were right. As we grow older, it becomes harder for the body to digest foods. Therefore, the less processed the meal, the easier it is for your body to consume all its nutrients. Natural foods give a long-term, consistent and positive effect on our body. All fruits and vegetables have disease-fighting nutrients to provide, thus improving our health and increasing our happiness. An illness-free you is a happy you. Visit the Wednesday Farmers Market in DeLand to pick up your fresh greens. In addition, our meal services include plenty of healthy foods to choose from.
A study from the University of Derby studied the relationship between nature and human health. Similar to other studies, this one concluded that there is a positive connection between nature and people’s health and happiness. Overall, nature can make you happy, helping improve people’s self-esteem, depression, anxiety and overall mental health. Compared to the rest of the United States, living in Florida gives us the benefit to enjoy the outside and wildlife much longer throughout the year. Try going for a walk through the park or on the beach, do some gardening or feed the birds. Great natural sites to visit would be Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, DeLeon Springs State Park, and all of our Volusia County beaches.
We’ve all been told by our doctors, “exercise is great for your health.” Many of us stayed on our couches and did not take action. This is largely due to the struggle of starting to exercise. Luckily, once you begin, it’s much more difficult to quit. Exercising releases endorphins in your brain that reduce the sense of pain and prompts positive feelings, similar to that of morphine. You’ll become addicted to these feelings and even happier once you start seeing the health results. Find the urge to motivate yourself to get moving, whether it means you take a fitness class, walk with your friends, display those pants you want to fit in or even get a dog. If you don’t know where to start, our COA Senior Centers in Ormond Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Deltona, and Orange City offer plenty of exercises classes to choose from.
6. And speaking of dogs... get a pet
Having a pet provides an abundance of health benefits that lead to happiness. Pets motivate their owners to exercise, provide companionship and decrease anxiety, stress, depression, heart attacks, and more. In fact, petting an animal raises serotonin and dopamine, feel-good chemicals found in your body. Also, some pets have been known to alert owners about fires, natural disasters, cancers, thieves, or even alerting others when their owners need emergency help. Visit the humane societies in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Deland to find a lovable pet today.
Finding happiness is no piece of cake, and neither is trying to stay happy. Nonetheless, it is said difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Abraham Lincoln believed, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Aristotle thought that “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” In conclusion, we are capable of anything we choose to set our minds to. Set a daily goal for yourself to find what makes you happy and that will, in turn, improve your overall well-being. Be consistent, be determined and above all else, never give up.
If you need some assistance or guidance to become a happy and healthy you, contact or visit one of our Senior Centers. We’re here to help!