Archive for July 2013

If You’re Happy and You Know … 5-HTT?   Leave a comment

shutterstock_100186745Surveys, Conferences, Flash Mob!

It’s been a happy morning so far… 6am gym-without-walls; hearty breakfast; mental fitness session with God; caught up on the news; watched an impromptu flash mob on-line (these always bring a smile!); read a recent report on a scientific breakthrough regarding the “happiness gene” 5-HTT; read the latest health survey finding “Australians are the happiest people in the world”.

What would make me unhappy right now? If the plumbing sprung a leak. If my internet connection bombed out. If the café ran out of cappuccino this morning. If I felt unwell. If a loved one phoned to say there was a death in the family. How quickly happiness can be ripped away! What sure foundation of thinking can I hold on to, especially for my latter “ifs”? Is there such a thing as being completely happy, as opposed to positive thinking making us happy?

1828 Webster’s Dictionary: ALL-HAP’PY. a. Completely happy.
In the 1913 Webster’s dictionary this exact word was not found. I wonder… did the word disappear because it wasn’t believed any longer?

The 5-HTT gene discovery doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Scientists analysed genetic data from more than 2500 participants in a US investigation looking at health-related behaviour in adolescents. A Sydney Morning Herald  article quotes: “Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, a behavioural economist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, who led the research, said: “Of course, our well-being isn’t determined by this one gene – other genes and especially experience throughout the course of life will continue to explain the majority of variation in individual happiness.””

There’s no shortage of surveys and conferences in the quest to understand happiness and wellbeing. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-op & Development) rates Australians as the happiest people in the world. The survey was done on income, education and health —

How to find it? How to feel it? How to keep it?

Most of these health surveys indicate that thoughts are seen as brain-based. When it comes to feelings like happiness and wellbeing, it makes sense that we should be looking beyond brain into consciousness. Philosophers, theologians and all the thought-storming schools you can muster have looked at these fundamental questions throughout history. But ‘now’ belongs to the individual and we have other choices. It would be an unjust “sentence” to be told that you don’t have the right length “happiness genes” to be happy like some other lucky ones. There are scads of accounts of depression and other mental illnesses being completely healed, through the power of reasoning against sentences of that nature. We have divine authority to expect to be happy and well – these are spiritual qualities that are the makeup of every person. I’ve found in my practice of Christian Science, that reasoning our way through physical problems to spiritual answers is imperative. It’s beyond chemical control, and beyond the common idea of positive thinking.

Some very helpful excerpts from ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures’ published in 1875, by Mary Baker Eddy:
Through human consciousness, convince the mortal of his mistake in seeking material means for gaining happiness. Reason is the most active human faculty.”
“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.

In the Science of Mind Forum at the Happiness and Its Causes Conference – held in Brisbane, QLD Australia – the Dalai Lama spoke about “human nature that makes it so difficult to change our unhelpful thoughts and bad behaviours.” His talk was titled: ‘Changing our minds for a happier life’. Natasha Mitchell spoke with the Dalai Lama on the subject. Mitchell is a science & health journalist in Australia, and host/producer of the popular program, ‘All in the Mind’ on ABC Radio National and Radio Australia.

It’s great that there’s no shortage of discussion on happiness. At the end of the day, are you feeling any better? If not, it’s worth looking into mental fitness sessions with God (Truth and Love), and understanding that it’s normal to feel “completely happy”.

This article was orginally published on Health 4 Thinkers by Carey Arber. Sydney-sider Carey writes on health, incorporating research on the link between consciousness and wellbeing.

Posted July 24, 2013 by cscanberra in Happiness, Healing, Health, Wellbeing

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Smile More! It’s Good For Your Health!   1 comment

shutterstock_118635883How often do you smile – really smile? If your answer is a lot, then you’re well on your way to achieving better health, happiness, and even a longer life.

Surprising as it may seem, Professor Barbara Fredrickson, says there’s growing evidence that smiles have a health-boosting effect.  That’s because they reflect positive emotions which include joy, contentment and gratitude.  Dr Suzy Green, agrees. She says a number of studies show genuine smiles were linked to higher personal wellbeing, or even living longer.

While increasing our health, happiness and longevity sound like good reasons to increase the number of smiles we ‘beam out’ each day, how does this actually boost health? “Positive emotions are mind and body events”, Fredrickson says. “One study found people who had more positive emotions in daily life were less likely than others to catch a cold. There is also good evidence that those with high levels of positive emotions get out of hospital faster after a cardiac event.”

From this research, it seems that positive thoughts and feelings have a measurable, favourable effect on the body. In fact, it could be said that they benefit our health. So, if you or I want to increase our wellness, how often should we smile? Professor Fredrickson says, “My research suggests that we need three positive emotions to lift us up for every one negative emotion that wears us down. So we need three or more smiles to each grimace, think of it that way.”

While that may sound an easy thing to do, what happens if someone is not naturally a smiley kind of person, or if he or she believes that they have nothing in their life to smile about? Are these individuals doomed to experience poor health and unhappiness? No. This is not the case. No one has to remain smile-less.

Positive emotions can spontaneously lead to a person having a broad grin, and it’s entirely possible to increase them. This can be accomplished without the kind of effort it takes to work-out at the gym, or to make drastic improvements in one’s life-style. In fact, you’ll be glad to know, that it’s possible to attain a sunny disposition quite naturally.

Gaining a cheerful facial expression, unlike other life-changes, is simple. That’s because an appearance of delight is merely an outward expression of what a person is thinking. People smile readily, when they’re thinking happy thoughts. An unsmiling face, is often the product of unhappy thoughts. Understanding the thought-based nature of a cheerful expression, shows the need for cultivating smile-inducing thoughts. So how is this done?

There was a time in my life when a smile didn’t come as readily to my face – as it does now. Several unhappy situations had occurred causing me to experience gloomy thoughts and feelings. As a result, I found myself not smiling unless someone actually smiled at me first. Eventually though, because I am normally a happy person, I decided this was not an acceptable way for me to be.

I devised a simple action plan. Each day I would remind myself to,

  • take the initiative and be the one to smile first at others. In moving around the community, for example at the check-out, coffee shop, bank and post office, make sure to smile at the person you’re speaking with.
  • stop waiting for someone, or something , to make you feel happy and to prompt a smile. Happiness is a state of mind. It doesn’t depend on external factors for its existence. Balanced thinking, contentment and satisfaction, don’t exist “out there” somewhere. Happiness doesn’t have to be found and then somehow acquired. It’s within consciousness. We have it already.
  • nurture only face-lighting thoughts. Dwell on constructive, optimistic, affirmative thinking, instead of constantly chewing over negative thoughts.
  • Employ “extra help” that’s right at hand in the form of tried-and-true meditation and prayer practices. These methods, according to doctors, have been found thought-strengthening, and studies have corroborated their mental and physical health benefits.

This plan of mine was successful. It “put a smile back on my dial”. It was simple, comforting, and didn’t require a large dose of positive thought-power to implement it. Since then, I’ve noticed that taking a moment to smile whenever some blue kind of thinking comes along, gives a spark of happiness – and that’s got to be good for one’s mental health.

This article was originally posted on June 17, 2013 on Spirituality and Health Connect by Beverly Goldsmith.  Beverly is a Melbourne-based health writer who provides a diversity of health content on how spirituality and thought affect health.

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