|Enjoyment can bring on better physical results
It’s interesting. When you look into someone’s eyes, you are literally getting a peek into the windows of their soul. This is because your eyes are the only visible part of your nervous system (unlike your digestive system, your mouth, or your respiratory system, your nose). This is why you get so annoyed or even angry when someone suddenly looks away when you’re in a deep conversation with them.
Or if I purposely lie, perspiration instantly forms on the top of my hands. If I happen to be attached to a lie detector, that perspiration shorts the machine out. That’s called a mind-body connection. A very important connection was recently reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It answers the question, “How do the feelings I have about my life affect my physical health?”
UK researchers at University College in London (UCL) discovered that people who are satisfied with their lives maintain better physical functions in their everyday activities. Another fascinating finding was that people who enjoy life can actually maintain a faster walking speed as they age, compared with people who enjoy their lives less.
The way they conducted the research was well, pretty interesting. First, they began the eight-year study by first dividing 3,199 men and women into three age categories – 60-69, 70-79 and 80 years or over.
The researchers then assessed the participants’ satisfaction with their lives with a four-point scale: 1. “I enjoy the things that I do;” 2. “I enjoy being in the company of others;” 3. “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness;” and 4. “I feel full of energy these days.”
Over an eight-year period, the researchers used personal interviews to measure the participants’ daily activities such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing or showering. They also gauged their walking speed with a gait test.
“The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life show slower declines in their physical function as they age,” said Andrew Steptoe, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at UCL.
It has been known for a long time that there are a lot of health benefits connected with having a positive outlook on our lives. This 2013 study however, is the first to suggest that people who bring more enjoyment to their lives also enjoy enhanced physical health.
The study discovered that the seasoned adults (my own word for seniors) who said they were enjoying their lives indeed were better off physically than people who stated they were unhappy. The study discovered the participants who were found to have a lower sense of happiness and feelings of well-being were more than three times as likely to say they had difficulties with their performance in regular daily undertakings.
In fact, older people who enjoy their lives are far more likely to live nearly a decade longer. In addition, they do better physically. Further studies indicate that almost three times more people over the age of 50 who stated they had “low to no enjoyment in their lives” had died compared to those who enjoyed their lives.
So this research shows what everyone already suspects; people who enjoy their lives will have a better quality of life than their more pessimistic counterparts.
How can I apply
this to my life?
Now, what does this mean to you? Am I admonishing you to “get out there and enjoy your life?” No. You and I know that life doesn’t work that way.
However, listen to this. Most of us connect how we feel with events in our lives. We think that “if good things happen to us, we feel happy and satisfied, and if bad things happen to us, we feel sad or mad.”
As a result, we spend our time and energy attempting to rearrange our circumstances in order to insure our happiness. The fly in the ointment is the people we know who are in miserable situations and are completely happy and content. We have also met people who are in wonderful situations to die for, and literally wish they could.
This dichotomy suggests that our feelings are not dependent on what is going on around us. We can buy that brand new car, acquire that perfect job, develop a relationship with that wonderful new someone or finally lose that 50 pounds and still find ourselves feeling not quite right, or worse.
The reason is there is something else going on…something that determines how we feel. This additional factor is what we are choosing to say about our lives.
According to the American psychologist, Albert Ellis, one of the originators of cognitive-behavioral therapies, the factor that determines what you are feeling is what you are saying to yourself. In other words, it is simply your own self-talk. In fact, most of what you are is based on what you choose to say about yourself, today.
And your brain believes what you tell it, without question. So when you say it, your brain says, “OK” and then does everything it can to make it true. It is your choice.
Steven Campbell is the author of "Making Your Mind Magnificent" and conducts "The Winners Circle" every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. He can be contacted at 480-5007 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.anintelligentheart.com.