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Almost every study of longevity indicates one secret that makes people healthier and happier: helping others. Some research shows a 60% decrease in mortality figures among those who do this. It inspires gratitude for what life has given you, and it’s what really helps you define your purpose in life. The real secret to being happy may be realizing that true peace isn’t about being giddy and feeling as if you’re charged up on Red Bull all the time. It’s about slowing down enough to realize that you have a lot of gifts — gifts you should be passing along to others.
There’s a survival value in feeling empathy for others; teaming up to fend off an attack is more advantageous than doing it alone. Your moral system (and, to some degree, your happiness) is largely dependent on how connected you feel to others; the more connected you feel, the higher your degree of generosity and compassion. That’s what allows an essential health-giving thing to happen: You can connect with other humans and transcend your differences.
True human experience — which helps you be happy and healthy — happens not necessarily because you’re smarter. It happens because you’re deeper. Your life may be driven by external factors and motivators (striving for that promotion) as opposed to intrinsic ones with a higher ideal (a love of the work you do and your purpose). So to find your true, authentic self — and to be happy about what you find — you must contemplate the big picture and realize you are not the hub in the center of the wheel, but are one node that’s connected to the center at all times. When you break through a level of superficiality that many people typically tend to live with, that’s when you break through to a different, healthier experience in life.
The good life isn’t achieved by ignoring emotions when they come up, whether you’re reacting painfully to the loss of a loved one or getting angry when you’re mad at your boss or kids. The goal, instead, is to observe emotions and use them intelligently. That means recognizing your emotions and doing things like counting to 10 before overreacting with emotion in an argument.
For some, being spiritual means going to Mosque or church every day. For others, it means finding a silent place to meditate and think about the bigger picture in life. No matter how you do it or what you call it, meditation and prayer can help slow breathing and brain activity, and they reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Plus, when you do pray or meditate, you’re more likely to be filled with peace and joy. And there’s some evidence that these emotions lead to positive physiological responses throughout your body.
Being happy means you realize that there are times you will be unhappy, and you recognize that life sometimes stinks. We’re not saying you should lower your expectations; we just believe that if you can align your expectations with reality by expecting to face challenges, you’ll be better off. A little unhappiness here and there forces you to think through problems and think about what gives you happiness so you can set new directions that may change your life.
P.O. Box: 691, P. Code: 114, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Phone: +968 243 904 27 or +968 243 904 28
Fax: +968 244 896 61