Today I´m very excited about this post. This is my first collaboration post, ever! I´m collaborating with my friend Sareena, the awesome blogger behind The all of it blog. Fortunately, she has more experience than me in this sort of post, and working with her was an absolute pleasure.
She showed up with a lot of topics and we choose happiness. Happiness is a familiar topic for me, not because I am a very happy person, but because I studied philosophy. Back in the day, I decided to study philosophy because I needed to understand what it is needed to be happy. Happiness is a fundamental concept in philosophy and I already had to write about it for several teachers. I never imagined that I would write about happiness again. I really enjoyed writing this post, revisiting old Greek authors, old pieces of advice, realizing which ones worked for me… A million thanks, Sareena!
In philosophy, happiness translates the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to the good life, or flourishing. Aristotle stated that the happy life is the good life, that is, a life in which a person fulfills human nature in an excellent way. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his reason. Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue. Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character, where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “Mean” between an excess and a deficiency.
From Tales to Adorno, all philosophers have reflected on happiness and good life, so we have a wide variety of opinions on what´s happiness and how to be happy. Exploring philosophical, cultural and historical variation in concepts of happiness is the best way to realize that happiness is a fuzzy concept.
Psychology reduces happiness to a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Since the 1960s, happiness research has been conducted in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including gerontology, social psychology, clinical and medical research and happiness economics. In my opinion, it´s pretty interesting how science tries to probe and translate to cold scientific language things that philosophers and poets said thousands of years ago.
“The physician heals, Nature makes well” Aristotle
Spend time outdoors. Recent studies show we spend too much time enclosed in buildings and vehicles. Up to 90% of the time, we´re inside. This is not just unhealthy but unnatural.
By definition, a jail is a place for the confinement of people accused or convicted of a crime. If you haven´t committed a crime, why do you confine yourself? How are you going to be happy if you´re punishing yourself by locking yourself? Happiness is outdoors!
Go outside and enjoy nature, earth and sky, lakes and rivers, beach and mountain. Time outdoors will improve your mood, self-esteem, creativity as well as your vitamin D levels. Also, many studies have found that regular exposure to nature helps to reduce mental fatigue and relieve stress reducing cortisol levels.
Make being outside a ritual, try gardening, find a trail, go to a local park or just sit outside quietly and appreciate the natural beauty around you! Notice the scents, sights, and sounds as you sit quietly and focus on the moment.
“A healthy mind in a healthy body” Juvenal
Exercise. Science can´t explain how it works yet, but exercise brings feelings of euphoria and general well-being. Endorphins, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, it´s not clear what causes these feelings.
A recent research shows that while many people started an exercise program to lose weight and improve their appearance, they continued to exercise because of the benefits to their well-being. Physical activity is an elixir of life, not a punishment for bad numbers on the scale. Give yourself 30 minutes a day to take care of your body, and you´ll see awesome improvements in your mood.
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best” Epictetus
Enjoy time with friends. There is no better way to spend our time in this world than doing activities that we like with people we like. Recent studies about friendship and happiness have found:
- Friendship is the single most important factor in determining a person’s happiness.
- Those who considered friendship very important were more satisfied in every category from their health, their personal achievements, their safety, their relationships and their lives as a whole.
- For married people, their level of happiness is significantly dependent upon the intensity of their friendships.
- Single people who think of themselves as being extremely happy and who believe friends are important are happier than married people who do not think friends are very important.
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything” Plato
Not just music, but arts in general. Make more art. In 2010, researchers analyzed more than 100 studies about the impact of art on your health and your ability to heal yourself and published the results in the American Journal of Public Health.
From five visual arts studies mentioned in that review (visual arts includes things like painting, drawing, photography, pottery, and textiles), the researchers described the impact that visual art activities had on the patients:
- Art filled occupational voids, distracted thoughts of illness.
- Improved well–being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones.
- Improved medical outcomes, trends toward reduced depression.
- Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions.
- Reductions in distress and negative emotions.
- Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks.
The impact of art, music, and writing can be seen in your physical body as well. In fact, this study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine used writing as a treatment for HIV patients found that writing resulted in “improvements of CD4+ lymphocyte counts.” In other words, writing actually impacted the cells and improved their immune system.Build something. Share something. Craft something. Make more art. Your health and happiness will improve!
Build something. Share something. Craft something. Make more art. Your health and happiness will improve!
“The happy man is the one who has a healthy body, a wealthy soul and a well educated nature” Thales
For many, formal education ends after secondary school or university. Of course, adults learn things outside of formal education such as how to manage their finances and make a success of their personal lives. Many will learn new skills in the workplace, and some do courses as part of their professional development. Continuing to learn well into adulthood is beneficial to health and happiness. Never stop learning!
These are my tips for you: enjoy time outdoors, with friends, take care of your body, express your creativity, and never stop learning. What are Sareena’s?