by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
Are you interested in keeping your mind and thinking sharp? Then use it. Recent research tells us that frequent participation in problem solving and thinking games and activities will help us ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Want to maintain your physical strength and abilities? Then start exercising and keep at it. Amazingly our muscles will grow stronger as long as we are using them. Using them can include strength building exercises, playing sports, or completing activities of daily living.
Do you want to remain a sexual person? This same principle applies. Use it or lose it. Engaging in sexual activities keeps your sexual desire alive. And when the desire and urge are present chances are that acts of romance will follow.
Now lets consider your happiness muscles. Are you using them frequently and regularly? If not you are bound to slowly lose them. Use it or lose it applies to your Mental Health & Happiness too.
Do you know any grumpy people? Sadly there are more peevish older people than those of other ages. But being irritable and crotchety is not reserved exclusively for the elderly. Anyone who is not exercising, using and working out their happiness muscles is in great peril of becoming ill-tempered and churlish.
Rather than waiting for the research to confirm this idea, understand NOW that if you don’t practice strengthening, endurance and flexibility in developing your happiness muscles you will lose them.
Choose to meet your needs for safety, fun, love & belonging, power and freedom every day in responsible and respectful ways. Exercise your happiness muscles in the following ways:
smiling producing giving thanks journaling relaxing being mindful creating being in sunshine exercising physically sleeping healthy eating socializing volunteering meditating
What do you do everyday to improve your personal well-being?
Remember if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!
by Dr. Nancy Buck
In the community where I used to live almost every day included a trip to my post office. Because I always had some kind of business that involved interacting with one of the postal clerks I spent time in line with the other patrons waiting their turn to do their business. Inevitably there were usually more customers than there were postal clerks. As I stood in line I would calculate my chances of missing the grumpy clerk. With luck I hoped to interact with either the neutral fellow or the friendly gal. Too many times Mr. Grumpy waited on me.
I then began to make it my mission to say something pleasant, cordial, friendly and maybe even funny. I wanted to give this fellow a moment of genuine human connection that might also involve a smile. And of course, I hoped the results would be the same in return.
I tried all sorts of things from “How are you today?”which had zero results to “I’m happy to see you this fine day”which did result in him at least looking at me. But mostly my experiences confirmed my nick name for this fellow, Mr Grumpy. However, I didn’t give up. Each day I worked to create a new line, a new introductory comment, a new attempt at connection. This all had no affect on Mr. Grumpy but at least the challenge made my line waiting time pass more quickly.
Finally, I just gave up. And I told him so.
“Hi, I give up!”
He looked up at me confused.
“I’ve been trying to improve the pleasant interaction between us all these many days and weeks. I have been unsuccessful. So I’m going to just give up. May I have 100 forever stamps today please.”
He opened his drawer, handed my the “Love”stamps that were always my first choice. At the conclusion of our interaction he handed me my receipt and said, “I hope you have a terrific day”as he looked me in the eye and smiled.
What’s the lesson? It could be that his challenge was to see if he could get an overly friendly customer to stop trying to control him and cheer him up. It could have been that all those days that he never answered with a smile or a friendly “Have a nice day”did not mean that he wasn’t experiencing a genuine, pleasant human interaction with me. It could have been that he finally got a new pair of shoes that didn’t pinch his toes. It could have been that he played a game where he only smiled at a customer after he waited on them 247 times. Who knows?
But the result was that every day forward when I entered the post office, I hoped that Mr. Grumpy-no-more would be the clerk who would give me my stamps and a good dose of mental health & happiness.