The 7 Characteristics of Happy and Healthy People
In the chaotic world around me, as I pick my head up and observe people, I notice those who appear stressed and frantic and those who seem calm and content. I take note of who tends to react and who lets things unfold. I observe when I tend to react vs. just letting things be. What strikes me is that those people who seem less reactive and more easygoing are overall healthy and happy. The people who seem to get all the colds, flu’s and ailments seem to be those that are more stressed, reactive and intense, usually due to stress. Being a busy, at times, reactive, mom of four, wife, coach and businesswoman, I am constantly seeking balance, peace, stillness and the ability to let go. I seek happiness and overall health, not just for me, but for my family, friends and clients.
Research from Berkley and Harvard have linked happiness and reduced stress, depression and anxiety to better immune function, cardiac function and improved longevity. The research revealed people who are happier are also healthier. The happier, healthier people in the studies seem to have several characteristics in common. George Vaillant, based on his research on the renowned Harvard Grant Study, categorizes these characteristics into two main pillars of happiness: Love and Coping. Based on research reviews regarding health and happiness, and Dr. David Meyers book, Pursuit of Happiness, I offer you 7 characteristics of healthy and happy people.
Happy and healthy people are:
- Self aware and accept themselves.(Love) Happy people know who they are and accept themselves without the need to compare self to others.
- Physically and Mentally Active.(Coping) Happy people are “doers” who experience life, move their body, and participate actively in life as it unfolds. Exercise releases endorphins which help one feel happy and exercise decreases cortisol, a stress hormone, which turns down the stress response.
- Optimistic and Hopeful. (Coping) They see the glass half full instead of half empty and do not dwell on what is wrong. Instead, they have hope that things will get better, or even believe that they can handle whatever life throws their way. This characteristic helps with overcoming stress and challenges, which I can attest to first hand having gone through Leukemia with one son and a stoke with another. Dr. Ed Diener relates people’s ability to adapt to stress with the positive cognitive attributes of: attention to the positive and beauty around you, positive interpretation (without negative spins) and positive memories vs. rumination on past memories.
- Close Relationships and Social Connections. (Love) People who feel connected to others and supported are healthier and happier. Dr. Diener claims that “happy people have strong social relationships”.
- Healthy Diet and Good Sleep.(Coping) As I have mentioned in numerous other blogs and in my “Fueling for Performance” and “Family Fuel” talks, the quality of what you eat and the quantity of sleep affect your mental, physical and emotional health tremendously. Food and sleep affect mood and outlook greatly.
- Balanced in Work/Family/Self and Play. (Love) All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy… and not very happy. Balance in work/family helps you feel connected to others and to purpose which leads to feelings of happiness. Balance with work or obligations and self care leads to connection with self and reduction of stress. It helps you adapt to change and challenge.
- Mindfully Living. (Coping) I know mindfulness is a trendy topic and buzz word, but, simply stated, it means being present, on purpose, in the moment without judgement. This is living life as it unfolds versus dwelling on past or being distracted by all the “to-do’s” and “shoulds” in our “competitively frantic culture”. (Daniel Goleman, author of The Meditative Mind.)
Mindfulness has helped me reset and adapt to stress and challenges. I am still a work in progress, at times reactive, chaotic and distracted, but constantly seeking peace, stillness and pause on my journey to health and happiness. Change starts with the ripple of awareness. Which characteristics do you possess and which do you want to cultivate? Be well beautiful seeking soul!