Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Happiness and Health

"Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions."   -- Dalai Lama XIV

How do you define happiness? 

Do happy people live longer?  Do happy people enjoy better health?  When someone is chronically depressed, how does that affect their health and their happiness?  Is there a relationship between happiness and blood pressure?  Happiness and heart health? Happiness and gut health? 

Recently, a client said to me, “You are always smiling.”  I decided a long time ago that life is so much better when you are happy about what you do every day, when you treat people with kindness, and you work hard to make the world a better place. When I wake in the morning and see the trees gently dancing in my back yard, I smile and my heart sings.  When I see the glow of the fading sun at the end of the day turn the sky into a brilliant shade of soft orange and yellow, I smile and my body relaxes.   For me, happiness is defined by my relationship with nature, my family and friends. What makes YOUR heart sing?

There is an ultimate relationship between happiness and health.  I see it every day.  Working with parents and children around the country who are dealing with diabetes, I hear their stories about what they would like to change about themselves.  I hear about their daily struggles with depression as they learn what to do about out-of-control blood sugars.  Many diseases are the cause, or the result, of depression.  Diabetes is one of them.  Being overweight is another.  

Whenever I talk with an adult at a healthy weight now who was overweight or obese as a child, I hear the pain in their voices when they share how they still suffer from depression because they never stopped thinking of themselves as fat.  There is a sadness that reveals itself when I have a deep conversation with someone who was fat as a child or teenager, even though they might be a very successful corporate CEO now and it was 30 years ago when they were overweight. 

This is why the work of GROWING HEALTHY KIDS, INC. is so important.   We have an opportunity to impact the future happiness of our children by actively learning what we need to know to give them access to the right foods and other tools for great health.

As parents, we have a responsibility to provide our children with good, healthy foods.  One of the keys to happiness starts with being as physically healthy as possible.  Physical health is connected to mental and emotional health.  When we feel good about ourselves, when we have fresh plant-based foods to eat, and we know how to get a good night’s sleep, then we are on the path to happiness.

Please pass the brussels sprouts. To learn more about the wonderful nutritional value of these little gems, click here. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.