Are you happy? No, truly. Are you excited to get up in the morning and conquer the world with your 101 goals and dreams to fulfill? Yes? No? Perhaps?
Here's the thing: people's perceptions of what happiness is, differs just as much as people's levels of happiness. They're just so diverse.
So what does it mean to be happy?
The latest scientific research into the state of happiness, has focused on the characteristics that shape this so called sense of happiness. These primary factors are: overall level of satisfaction, social connections, family upbringing, health and then the external factors like career, wealth and marital status. From this, researchers have concluded that happiness is not what you might think it to be. It's not the idea of being overjoyed or pleased all of the time. Happiness is not to be considered a fleeting, short term phenomenon, although much of Western society's' conception of happiness is based on just that: materialism, career, having a long term partner.
This will burst your bubble: only 10% of the external factors like these, contribute to your overall sense of happiness.
Perhaps we need to broaden our approach to happiness to mean overall content, as this is where the research is pointing.
So how can you boost your happiness, right here, right now?
The first step is to realise that pursuing this notion of perpetual happiness is a false and lost cause. It's impossible. Our humanity itself calls for us to experience a broad spectrum of emotions: joy, sadness, anger, frustration, love and excitement. What scientists have pointed out through their extensive study across people who report high levels of happiness, is their understanding of this concept. The ability to put things into perspective, to acknowledge that we have our ups and downs, and to be resilient to an overarching doom and gloom
Mentality when times are tough, greatly shape a happier, healthier person.
What about diet and nutrition? This can be beneficial, but a balanced and nourishing eating regime alone won't result in high levels of happiness. Considering all areas of your life is the key. Here are some helpful tips to boost your happiness:
1. Meditate daily. This will enable you to better handle your emotions and shape a sense of mindfulness in all that you do.
2. Nourish your body. Whole foods should make up 80% or more of your diet. Don't be afraid to indulge. It's important not to restrict, but to find the balance that works best for you.
3. Socialise. Social connections are one of the greatest contributing factors to your happiness, which you can control. Lonely people aren't happy people!
4. Find a sense of purpose in what you do. Have goals. Share them with others, especially like-minded people. Excitement is the seed for long term happiness.
5. Be grateful. Practicing expressing gratitude will help you see the rose amongst the weeds. It will nourish your spiritual side and leave you feeling happy to be alive. This is best done through writing in a gratitude journal, for a mere 5 minutes a day!
Tell me below what you do to shape a sense of happiness, and whether or not you've tried any of the techniques noted above!
Thomas Grainger: www.thomasgrainger.info
Eating Disorder Recovery Book: www.eatingdisorderbook.info
Photography by: Patrick Lim
In this video I share my top 5 tips for successfully overcoming an eating disorder for life. Hope it helps. Don't forget to share it with friends, family and loved ones! Much appreciated :)
Vegan for more than 10 years, Jennifer reveals why you should consider being a vegan, including how to make small changes in your life to be more animal-friendly. We discuss whether veganism is for everyone, the 'right way' to be vegan, common mistakes/misconceptions, vegan-friendly living in the city, and much much more!
Food guilt. What is it? It's that all too familiar feeling we get when we regret eating something, or perhaps for some people, eating too much in general. So how does it come about? The answer lies in the way you approached the meal you just consumed/devoured or perhaps practically inhaled: a lack of mindful connection.
Say what? This isn't about yoga or meditation or any of that new age spiritual stuff, isn't it? It's supposed to be about food right? Think again. Before you stop reading out of frustration, disinterest or disbelief, allow me to explain.
Whether you are a chronic over eater, a closeted snacker, food restrictor, anorexic or just find yourself stressing about food, the commonality behind the root cause of this is not being present with your food when you eat it. That's right, you're not really paying attention. How do we know this to be the case? Well for starters, you wouldn't be experiencing that after guilt had you been present throughout your meal.
So what is this 'presence', this mindfulness that I speak of? To put it simply, it's to be consciously aware of the food choices that you are making, listening to your body to find out just what it needs at this time in your present situation. This is not the same thing as an impulsive craving. It's not about what you intellectually think you should eat or would enjoy the most. It's about being present, being focused and simply feeling into your own body.
Being present during a meal will ensure that, if going through patterns of restrictive dieting behaviour, that you will eat enough. Conversely, it will ensure that, should you be a classic overeater of unhealthy processes Frankenfoods, that you make wiser innate decisions from within and nourish your body with exactly the right amount of nutrition that it needs at this present moment. By adopting a present and mindful approach to the way that you eat, you won't feel guilty about the foods that you consume, because you'll know that you have given your body the right fuel to help it fulfill it's daily tasks. You won't have that aching regret for binging on the jar of cookies because you won't have binged to begin with. If you do choose to have a cookie, it will be for the right reasons at that moment. You will enjoy the experience and you will be able to stop at one, not when the jar is empty. Eating disorder sufferers will be able to trust that their body is asking for the dire energy it needs to continue to produce healthy cells in their bodies. They will eat to satisfaction not to a rigid low calorie regime.
It may sound stupid, it may appear overly simple, but the underlying reality is this: sometimes the most clear and concrete things are those that we overlook. Eat mindfully and you'll walk away smiling, not stressing, every time you swallow.
Thomas Grainger: www.thomasgrainger.info
Eating Disorder Recovery Book: www.eatingdisorderbook.info
Photography by: Daniela Brown
Personal fitness tracking devices like the Fitbit have been the latest range of products to take the retail market by storm. Everywhere I look, someone is walking around with a coloured armband that flashes. In cafes I hear people comparing how many steps they’ve done over their mid-morning espresso. Then there’s the blow-up of health kick programs, wonder diets and short-lived weight-loss protocols. The last one to peak international interest was the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet. It worked a treat until people got hungry. Then they were back at square one.
Although as a health and wellness advocate I am often the first person to praise new approaches to stimulating a healthier, and hopefully ultimately, a happier you. The consumerist craze that has followed this last stream of products and protocols, has left me hungry (no pun intended) to clear up the distinction between being healthy and taking things too far. Too many of any good thing, as I’m sure you’d be aware, turns that blessing into a nightmare.
Call me dramatic, but I think each of these health practices have their place, but when they’re taken to the extreme, when people become obsessed with having to know how many steps they have walked, with only eating raw biodynamic organic vegan paleo friendly fermented superfoods, to the point of it producing anxiety when such foods are not available, is far from being healthy at all. The key word is balance. Aiming for a healthy lifestyle with whole foods, moderate exercise, a thriving social life and working in an industry that you enjoy, that inspires you, is what we all ultimately are striving for. Yet when people become so caught up in the moment of having to jump on the latest health bandwagon, we lose sight of what truly matters.
Having suffered from anorexia and orthorexia (an obsession with clean eating’), I know too well the dangers and health implications: both physical and psychological, with taking so called health and wellness to the extreme.
So how can you be sure that you’re doing the ‘right thing’?
First of all, I’d like to establish that there is no such things as the ‘right thing’. The best way to eat, the best way to exercise and the best practices to boost your mental health, are all terribly subjective. You’ve just got to work out what works best for you. For some, intermittent fasting WILL do them wonders. For others, snacking regularly is what works for them. You’ve got to listen to your body, truly listen, and ask it what it wants. Being mindful is the key step towards true health and wellness. Some electronic device can’t tell you that your healthy. It can’t define your happiness. If they do invent something like this, believe me, I’ll be the first one to jump on it.
Until then, remind yourself that as a society, we are no healthier than we were before these items and regimes. The soup diet which was all the rage 5 years ago, is dead. Atkins has made a prominent resurgence. Paleo and raw eating are in. High carb is and low fat are out.
Trust your body. It will tell you what should be ‘in’ for you for the long hall, and what to leave by the wayside as interesting muses in the development of the latest in health and dieting movements.
Checkout my blog: www.thomasgrainger.info
Read my book: www.eatingdisorderbook.com
Listen to my Podcast: SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES
Image by: 401kcalculator.org
Vagabonding - the art of living out of a suitcase. After 9 months of travelling the globe, volunteering in Kenya and meeting hundreds of new people, Liz discusses how travel can truly change your life. We chat about how travel leads to gratitude, simplicity and happiness. Why should you travel? What are the best places to visit? What should and shouldn't you pack. We discuss it all!
I was out enjoying a fabulous dinner the other evening, when I found myself passionately in an argument with a friend of mine with a background in biological science. This debate centred around the effect to which our thoughts impact our physical health. People who know me well, would be aware that I'm an adamant believer in the power of positive thinking. What's more, I believe that how we perceive ourselves and the world has a profound effect on our health. Studies have begun to reveal that our mindset not only influences stress levels and our happiness, but on a deeper level, it can have a correlation to the development of disease. Conversely, it can be the catalyst for profound long term and sustained healing and lead to better health and wellbeing.
Dr Bruce Lipton is a key spokesperson around the research behind how our thoughts shape our reality. He explores how epigenetics, the idea that our genetic expression is influenced by our mindset and our environment, from relationships to our diet and lifestyle choices, create the health conditons that we face in our lives, whether these are positive or not so positive. His international best-seller Biology of Belief has made groundbreaking research in the medical field to prove this idea.
Yet the question remains, why are people so dismissing of this phenomenon? My scientist friend, with all due respect, is a highly educated and learned individual. Yet to dismiss such claims as a fallacy, as a joke to the scientific field, is forgetting one fundamental and very basic principle: we don't know everything. Just because something hasn't been definitively proven in 1000 consistent studies doesn't rule out the very possibility that there is something very real the potential of our thoughts to shape our physical health.
If you think of the power of the mind and it's correlation to health when it comes to eating disorders, it is the psychological struggles in ones life which leads to the manifestation of physical health markers dictated by disorders eating patterns. The mind has lead to a depletion in optimal health. Think about when you're nervous. Do you not feel a certain way when your thoughts are occupied with stress and restlessness? Butterflies in the stomach? Dihorreah? Shallow and sharp breathing? These are physical responses to a psychological development.
So cutting this hot debate short, the underlying principle is this: your thoughts shape your reality, at least to an extent. Stress causes physical harm to the body, that we know. If stress causes such harm, can our mindset not directly shape our physical health? Can it not lead to miraculous remissions from terminal diseases? Can it not dramatically shape our physical experiences of this world?
I look forward to more 'evidence' being revealed about this very phenomena in the coming years. Then perhaps science will be more satisfied. Then perhaps more people will begin to realise that the mind is the cornerstone to your health and wellbeing. Happiness is not merely an ideal. It is the very essence of living an enriched and healthy life.
Join the conversation on Beyond The Body
Photo credited to: aboutmodafinil.com
Volunteer surf lifesaver Mickey Mason helps answer the questions: what is a healthy lifestyle? How can you find what works for you? What is with the Paleo diet? What about veganism? Why is meditation so important? Should mindset or healthy eating and exercise come first? These are just some of the areas we discuss in depth. Tune in to learn more about personalising your health and wellbeing!
I find that, like it was with myself, it can stem from personal dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Since food offers that instant gratification, the relief from feeling empty inside and filling yourself with the sensations of eating/consuming food, I find that the best strategy is to find NEW WAYS of filling that gap. Apart form cognitive behavioural therapy, which is basically being 'mindful' about how you are thinking and catching yourself out before you turn those thoughts into unhelpful behaviours, there's a number of approaches I have found helpful:
You can tune in to the podcast Beyond the Body to listen more about overcoming body image and eating disorder issues!
Presented by Thomas Grainger