I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I have always felt generally happy, but I am at my peak of happiness, which I find surprising as I have been in a battle with prostate cancer for the last 8 years. I am pretty sure I know why, but before I dive into my personal happiness journey, let’s take a look at the “Ten Keys to Happier Living” from the Action For Happiness, which is based on a review of the latest research from psychology and related fields.
1. Giving – Doing things for others
2. Relating – Connecting with people
3. Exercising – Taking care of your body
4. Awareness – Living life mindfully
5. Trying Out – Learning new things
6. Direction – Having goals to look forward to
7. Resilience – Finding ways to bounce back
8. Emotions – Looking for what’s good
9. Acceptance – Being comfortable with who you are
10. Meaning – Being a part of something bigger
Right now, this is how I am doing with these 10 keys. As you read along, I challenge you to write your answers, thoughts, and ideas about your own journey to happiness.
Giving. I have not always been the most giving person; However, since launching the OneDayToWellness.org non-profit with Mindy, I have felt a true sense of giving by helping others on their personal wellness journey, while expecting nothing in return. I can honestly say that I am making less money now than in my entire working career, yet I feel more satisfaction and joy in what I am doing than any other time in my life. It truly feels great.
Relating. I feel strongly connected to my family (wife Mindy, and my three boys, Drew, Chris, and Casey) and my few very close friends (you know who you are). But again, because of our mission to help people understand the importance of plant-based nutrition and total wellness, Mindy and I have connected with literally thousands of people across the continent who are facing the same health struggles I did prior to becoming plant-based or who are also thriving with cancer. This has been a true gift, so I think I get a checkmark for Relating.
Exercising. Well, I do love to exercise and that’s been the focus of our business for a long time. But, I exercise less now than I have most of my life. We strive to exercise daily by creating moments for working-in (learn more during our One Day to Wellness workshop) and simply try to move throughout the day. Just a minute every hour can really change your body, mental capacity, and overall mood. Need some ideas? Find our One Minute to Wellness movement library here. Check mark again!
Awareness. I think I lived most of my life in a state of not being mindful. It was only after my cancer diagnosis 8 years ago that I have really moved in the direction of being mindful. Meditation has been a key component of this strategy for me personally. And again, we speak about mindfulness and meditation in our One Day to Wellness program. Want to give it a try with Mindy and me? Check out our Straight Talk series “The Mindfulness Continuum” or join us for our 10 Days of Moving Towards Mindfulness group that starts November 1st.
Trying Out. I am giving myself a big YES to this as my passion for evidence-based nutrition has given me the opportunity to learn so much more about food, cooking, and research than I ever expected. I am obsessed with the subject matter and I love it.
Direction. I love the direction our lives are headed (cancer being the one holdout). We live in a fruit and veggie wrapped RV (also known as the Wellness Wagon) and travel North America lecturing on one of the most important issues for everyone: overall wellness based on science, not marketing. Checkmark again!
Resilience. An 8 -year cancer battle has been a struggle. But the battle has forced me to become an optimist. I am alive and feeling great in the midst of the battle. As Tich Nhat Hanh says, “No Mud, No Lotus” (Great book! Read it). How could you possibly be happy if you never experienced sadness? Checkmark, please!
Emotions. Mindy will tell you that I have not always been so open with emotions. I used to bury them as the standard operating procedure. No more! I am an open emotional creature. This has been a big growth territory for me. I don’t do positive emotion chants in front of the mirror, but I find my emotions to naturally be more positive than in the past. Checkmark AGAIN!
Acceptance. I love myself for who I am, more so than ever. and this is probably the key to my overall happiness. I don’t concern myself with possessions, money, or status. I do what I love to do and I make all of my own decisions in every aspect of my life. I am in control of my destiny, no one else. Checkmark!
Meaning. I am giving myself an 11 out of 10 on this one. I have more purpose and meaning in my life than I ever have. We speak to thousands of people about our own personal experience and the importance of strictly evidence-based living, from plant-based nutrition to mindfulness actions. Check again!
So, in summary, according to the Actions To Happiness check list, I should be happy; which is great, since I AM happy! And the great news is that you can be too! Happiness does not come with a nice car, a house, or a checking account. It comes from being genuinely who you are while helping and connecting with other people. Pretty simple, right?
I would add to the list:
Marry and love well. I am the luckiest guy on the planet. My wife is my lover, business partner, and best friend (and navigator of the wellness wagon). I would have accomplished nothing personally without Mindy.
Eat a whole-food, plant-based diet. My entire life improved when I finally dumped the standard American diet for a health-promoting plant-based diet. Just doing that will make you feel so much better which will automatically make you feel HAPPIER!
Our partner and friends at the Food Revolution Network have several articles and links for you to explore on the subject of happiness – please check them out here.
Last but by no means the least, it’s breast cancer awareness month. If you or someone you know is dealing with this dreaded disease, PLEASE watch this video by Dr. John McDougall.
You need all the facts about traditional treatments and their efficacy. Chances are, you will not hear these from your doctor unless you are a skilled interrogator!
So how do you fare on with collecting the 10 keys? Remember, only you are responsible for your health (and happiness!)