The Gift of Giving: Gratitude and Happiness

What is the connection between happiness and gratitude? Do we need to be grateful in order to be happy? We are all seeking the one thing, and yet we are also very different in our approach. I watched this TED talk on happiness and gratitude not very long ago, and it made me reflect – Is happiness born from gratitude? Can we start experiencing more happiness when we start appreciating little things in life? The next few paragraphs are my random thoughts, so bear with me.

As I have been told every moment is an opportunity, and that is the key to happiness. I have yet to discover things for myself, but the minute I started being thankful for little things in my life…feelings of joy started to flow into my life. We are not born with this mind-set ofcourse, but we can make it a habit. I also think there is a joy in gift of giving. The more you give out, you receive triple the amount back.

What we imagine, we become, and what we think, we create. Hence, I truly believe that our thoughts and our minds are powerful tool in shaping us into who we want to become. If I am in charge and in control of my thoughts then I am in control of my well-being. While people are aware of the importance of physical health (we look after our body, we go for our routine check, and we spend endless hours in the gym to be healthy), attitudes toward mental health are different. Why aren’t we as concerned? Why is physical health given more importance than mental health? I keep raising this question, and it is amazing to see that people are now acknowledging it as well.

I think it boils down to one thing: Change the way you think about things. We miss out on every little things in life, and beautiful moments pass by if we are not present in the moment. We show gratitude towards people, and appreciate sweet gestures when we start to make a mental notice of our surroundings. So take a moment to appreciate when someone does something good for you, next time. Never take things for granted! You may not show them in words (as not everyone can be expressive), but accept it in your heart, and be thankful.

And when you are happy and show love to the things you want, you don’t just attract them, but will have no room for fear, insecurity, resentment, envy, and doubt. If you fear that what you are aiming for is impossible then just believe in your vision, imagine it and enjoy the process. Don’t worry about the outcome, as everything will fall into place. Just BELIEVE it. ENVISION it. And dream big! Many people are confused, not because they don’t know what they want, but because they are fearful and may question their ability whether they can or cannot. And they may or may not overcome it.

I also read an interesting research on health and happiness. I think it is no surprise that when we are fully energised, we get a lot of things done. Hence the point of the research was that in order to increase our level of energy, we need to be getting enough sleep and exercise, as the two are the predictors of wellbeing.

Research also showed happier people are more interested in the problems of the world, and in the problems of the people. They are more often and willingly to offer help. If you are asking well then, what might bring you happiness? – It is different to each one of us, but novelty and challenge contribute to people’s happiness. What is challenging for you might not be challenging for someone else, so you have to know what is right for you.

Recently, as I have learned, outcome does not matter as much. Just enjoy the process. I hope some can relate to this post or hoping that you can take something positive out of it.

 

 

Exercising and Well-being

www.shape.com

shape.com

Benefits of Exercising on Our Mental Well-being

It is no surprise that in general people are becoming more health conscious, and are looking after their well-being, and not just physically, but mentally also. We hear it all the time that exercising is good for us, but what is that really mean? We obviously exercise to keep fit, but I think it is important to look past that and to really understand the benefits of exercise on our overall well-being. Does exercising actually boosts our brains’ happy chemicals?

Research shows Yes!

1. Exercise helps with combating depression. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Any kind of physical activity causes our brain to release these chemicals in a greater amount, and so we feel better mentally. Regular exercise has been proven to:

Reduce stress
Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
Boost self-esteem
Improve sleep

Also, depressed adults have been proven to become better with a regular exercise, compare to adults who just rely on medications.

2. Exercise helps with our day to day productivity, I am sure there is no surprise there. A study was done to test the productivity of employees at work. The study discovered that employees who were incorporating exercise in their daily routines were more productive compared to those who didn’t exercise. Also the study showed that subjects that were active (like exercised few times a week) appeared to be calmer, and showed more patience and understanding towards their work colleagues.

3. Exercise also helps with creating new brain cells. Any sort of workout whether it is going for a run or doing your aerobic activity in general has been linked to creating new brain cells. Running gives birth to some neurons. As it was noted, (Click here) adults continue to grow new brains when they learn a new activity. A new review of the scientific literature, published in the journal of Trends in Cognitive Science, tells us that new cells can grow in the hippocampus, which is an area in the brain that is linked to memory and learning. So exercise has shown to help us grow new cells in that part of our brain. The literature also points out that sex and mating have also shown to grow new brain cells, in case you were wondering.

Blog.newscred.com

Blog.newscred.com

4. Exercise also, as we know, improves our confidence and body image. Research indicates that a change in our diet, as well as including regular exercise routines have a positive impact on our body image.
5. It improves our overall strength and functionality- it is also linked to improving our memory and focus. Our brain changes in response to our environment, so when we learn something new, which involves something physical, it automatically changes the pattern of our brain. Study shows that when students are given a test after a 20 minute walk, their test scores improves by 10 percent.

What are some of the ways that help you stay active? What do you do for staying mentally fit?

I’ve constantly struggled with staying on top of my workouts. But I am aware of my problem, and as they say the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. In my next blog I will share what I do to stay active; and share tips on the importance of making small goals.

For more juicy stuff on health and exercise, click the link below.

Shawn Stevenson

Five Steps to Mental Well-being

Here’s another blog entry after ages. I got busy with massive school work.
I have been reading quite a bit on mental health  because it is the focus of my dissertation. I came across this one article that caught my attention. The article points out few steps for leading a positive mental attitude and the positive factors that are associated with keeping a positive outlook. According to the study, mental well-being is more than just being happy. There is more to it than what we think we know. It is about feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagment with the world.

Here are five steps to a healthy mind that the NHS article points out:

1. Connect with people around you: Your friends, neighbor, coworker, and family. Engage with the world and spend time in the presence of others.
2. Be active – find an activity that you enjoy and make that part of your life. It can be as simple as going for a walk.
3. Keep learning – pick up a hobby or learn a new skill, as it adds a sense of achievement and that a lone can boost our self-esteem and self confidence.
4. Give to others – be kind and generous towards others. A simple thank you and a smile can make a lot of difference.
5. Be mindful of the people around you – take notice of everday life and live in the present moment.

I hope you find this helpful and use it as a starting point.

For more on mental well-being you can refer to the NHS site.
NHS Site