Happy mind, happy body!
We have the false belief that happiness is linked to material gains or to the beauty of a young, slim and perfect body, as if the plumper ladies and also those in their forties and fifties did not have any rights to happiness.
It can be said that happiness is the state of being of those who are happy, regardless of height, width and thickness; it’s the feeling of wellbeing and contentment with oneself and this can come by for many diverse reasons. Happiness is made of several emotions and feelings, and can happen for a specific reason, like a dream that is realised, a wish that is answered. Some people are known for being always happy and in a good mood, for them it is not needed any specific reason to be in a state of joy.
A good mental health is linked to positive thoughts and feelings about ourselves, as people and regarding our abilities. Our minds have a direct and indirect relationship with our bodies. So, as we ‘nourish’ our mental health well (with positive emotions, adequate thoughts, etc.), the better our physical health will be.
Mental states like stress, depression, anxiety, anger, bitterness and resentment, among others, can cause several physical problems. These can lead to the so called psychosomatic diseases (psycho= mind and soma= body), that being, physical disturbances caused by psychological and social disorders.
How often during your every day you get annoyed with small and unimportant things, alter yourself because of other people and get frustrated and moody? All these instances, small as they may be, affect your happiness. As time go by these can generate anxiety, psychosis, neurosis, panic attacks or even lead to depression.
In the book ‘The Biology of Belief, Bruce H. Lipton, PhD in biology, shows with his experiments that emotions and negative thoughts release toxic substances like cortisol, noradrenaline, adrenaline by the suprarenal glans, causing the acceleration of the heartbeat and breathing, and increasing the blood pressure and muscles to contract.
According to Mr Lipton, chronic stress is highly toxic. In stressful situations, the hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline are released in large quantities and cause heart acceleration and shrink the calibre of the veins which, in the long run, can increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias.
Other negative effects of excessive tension on our bodies are the decrease of cognitive performance, thyroid dysfunctions, skin problems, bone weakening, erectile dysfunction and decreased reproductive functions, muscular rigidity and gastro- intestinal problems.
Thoughts and beliefs that lead to the lack of happiness:
You think that you must be esteemed or approved by all important people in your life, and because of that you find it hard to say no. You believe that you must be super competent to be deserving of value. You always expect people to behave according to your wishes. You get extremely worried with the problems of people you like. You believe that you have perfect and absolute control over things. That you know everything and, specially, you believe that you know what is best for other people.
The good news is that our body also produces happiness hormones. These are known as the ‘happiness quartet’: endorphin, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. But to have these we must cultivate healthy mental habits and positive emotions like love, humour, tolerance, patience, empathy, thankfulness, generosity. We need to celebrate small and big victories, have confidence in ourselves and so forth.
Do you want to have a happy mind and a happy body?
Know how these substances act naturally in our bodies:
1.Endorfins- these are a kind of natural pain killer and are considered a body morphine. Discovered some 40 years ago, endorphyns offer a ‘brief high that masks physical pain’. Dancing, singing and working in a team are some of the activities that increase levels or endorphins in the body and improve social unity and increase tolerance to pain. Eating spicy food is a way of releasing these natural opiates and create a feeling of happiness. But these are not of the the only way to get an endorphyn rush. According to studies published by researches University of Oxford watching sad films also can increase the levels of these substances, incredible as it may sound.
2.Serotonins- these flow when you feel important; the feeling of loneliness and depression are chemical signs of its absence. Recalling your last meaningful conquests allows your brain to to relive the experience. Our brains cannot tell the difference between what is real and imaginary and produces seratonin in either case. This is another reason why practising gratitude is so important. It reminds us that we are valued and theat we have many achievements in life to value. If you need a seratonin boost on a stressful day, spend a few minutes recalling some achievements and conquests you had in the past.
3.Dopamins- these are commonly responsible for feelings of love and lust and have also been labelled as being addictive. This is why they are described as being a ‘pleasure mediator’. They motivate us to act towards goals, desires and needs and give us a rush of pleasure when we achieve these. Procrastination, self doubt and lack of enthusiasm are all connected to low levels of dopamin.
4.Oxytocins- because these are related to the development of motherly behaviours, oxytocins are often nicknamed ‘emotional ties hormones’ and the ‘hug hormones’. A hug is a good way to get this hormone flowing. Giving or receiving a present is another example. Oxytocin generates intimacy, confidence and builds healthy relationships. It is released by men and women during orgasm and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding.
Practise these habits for a happier life:
Remember that you are not better than anyone else and that everyone deserves to be happy. On your day to day try to be generous and good-natured. Often a smile is all it takes to make others happy and if we are surrounded by happy people we end up also being infused with this feeling of wellbeing.
- Moral discipline
Control your thoughts, words and actions. Do not hurt other people’s feelings. Each person carries with them an emotional bag with life stories that are not known to us. Try to put yourself in their place before recriminating, criticising or attacking them. This often makes us see people and situations with different eyes.
Contemplate all difficulties as experiences and learning. Doing that will help you to see and deal with life in a more positive way. Being more patient will also allow you to learn with and to appreciate people more. Next time that you feel the heat of anger rising take a deep breath.
- Physical exercises
These release endorphins and help improve a feeling of happiness, self-esteem and health.
Thankfulness will strengthen you and make you become a better and more human person. Take 5 minutes of your day to thank for all the things that you have in your life. Your body and your mind will thank you.
By Magda Lizbir Gomes